Three Days: Episode 8
So much has happened up to now that it’s hard to believe we’re only at the halfway mark. This episode maintains the breakneck pace with more secrets from the past revealed, more mysteries to ponder, and yet another character who it turns out may not be as trustworthy as we once believed. Oh, and of course — more flashbacks than you can shake a stick at.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
March 8, 8:00 PM. The impeachment bill is introduced.
Tae-kyung stands before President Lee with a choice to make. Will he continue to protect the president as he attempts to uncover the truth about Yangjinri?
Before he can decide, we flash back to December 2012. Lee Dong-hwi has just been elected president and Tae-kyung is nervous to begin his first Secret Service assignment as part of the presidential detail.
As they meet for the first time, the president comments on how young Tae-kyung is, but Tae-kyung assures him that he is willing to lay down his life. “I will protect you,” he says, “no matter what happens.”
Back to the present, where that promise is about to be put to the test. Discovering that Secretary Shin was not on his side seems to have shaken President Lee deeply and he now feels he cannot trust anyone — anyone, that is, except Tae-kyung. He asks again, “Will you protect me?”
But Tae-kyung doesn’t know if he can anymore. Too much has changed and he’s become unsure of everything; it may be time to leave his position at the Blue House.
President Lee reminds him of the work for which his father was killed. For sixteen years, Tae-kyung’s father tried to uncover the truth about Yangjinri. He never gave up because he wanted to be an honorable father to his son. Even if Tae-kyung can no longer trust the president, Lee implores him to have faith in his father’s intentions.
Tae-kyung doesn’t give a final answer. Later, alone at his desk, he thinks back on two conflicting memories. The first is President Lee confirming that the results of the Yangjinri investigation are true. The second is Team Leader Ham’s instructions that the president must be protected no matter what kind of person he is.
The president finds Secretary Shin waiting in his office. Shin tells him that 35 members of the Blue House staff have resigned, with more likely to follow. Shin is not among those resigning; he pledges to protect the president until the end.
And just as Shin is winning back some of my admiration, he turns away from the president with a suspicious smirk. Okay, what’s he up to now? He leaves to meet Prime Minister Lee Kyeong-wan who has just returned from a trip to China.
Meanwhile, President Lee is up to something as well. The security director says he has taken care of that thing the president wanted. The president reminds him that it has to stay a secret between the two of them.
Secretary Shin has some shocking news for the returning prime minister. The evidence presented against the president is true. It’s time to start preparing for the prime minister to take over the presidency.
Tae-kyung, Cha-young, and other Blue House agents are wondering how Team Leader Ham’s funeral will be handled. Surely he won’t be buried in the National Cemetery, right? Tae-kyung rises to his defense, saying Ham made one mistake in his whole life. Then he tells them he is leaving his post at the Blue House.
Tae-kyung gives Cha-young his resignation letter to hand in. She tries to convince him that he did the right thing by shooting Team Leader Ham, but he knows he’s been changed by it. He asks what she would’ve done, if it had been her pulling the trigger on him.
He says that an agent needs to protect to the president without feeling and without wavering, but he’s a living person with feelings and a heart. He decides that he can’t kill someone to protect someone else any longer, and that makes him unfit to protect the president and he needs to leave. Cha-young tears up as she watches him walk away.
Tae-kyung sits down with Bo-won to apologize for getting her suspended from the police department. But Bo-won isn’t giving up so easily. (And isn’t that why we love her?) She’s been interviewing the families of the murdered statesmen, looking for any evidence that will help clear her name and, more importantly, reveal the truth that Tae-kyung’s father died for. He gives her the records from his father’s accident to help her investigation.
Cha-young puts Tae-kyung’s resignation away in her desk drawer. In the drawer she finds the post office receipt from the package Joint Chief of Staff Kwon sent to the president on the night he died. She notices something she had overlooked before: the receipt is for five pieces of mail. So where did the other four go?
With a renewed drive for answers, Tae-kyung is once again attempting to open his father’s computer file containing the real Confidential 98. He guesses that the password might be the date of the Yangjinri incident, and he’s right. The file opens!
The true document speaks of a meeting in 1998 Beijing between Chairman Kim, his cohorts, and high-ranking North Korean officials. A flashback to the meeting reveals Chairman Kim plotting for the submarine encounter at Yangjinri to lead to bloodshed in order to really grab people’s attention. He offers the North Koreans 100 million dollars in exchange for the lives that will be lost.
The present-day Chairman Kim has joined the meeting with Secretary Shin and the prime minister. As the impeachment proceeds, Kim offers to assist the prime minister in any way he can. Clearly he’s laying the groundwork to get on the incoming president’s good side.
After the prime minister leaves, Shin worries that they won’t be able to trust him. Kim reminds him that they only have to use him for a little while — the big day is approaching.
What he means by that is left up to our imaginations because the conversation is interrupted by a package for Chairman Kim. Inside the envelope is a photograph of everyone at the 1998 Beijing meeting. Look out, Kim. Someone’s onto you.
In a flashback, Tae-kyung’s father meets with Major Rhee Chul-kyu, a North Korean who was at the Beijing meeting. Dad is distressed to learn that the money he delivered to North Korea was payment for the Yangjinri incident, not the charitable donation he had been led to believe it was.
Major Rhee promises to return in a month with evidence. But according to Confidential 98, he never did. After some investigating, Tae-kyung’s father learned that he was executed in a purge shortly after their meeting.
In search of information about Major Rhee, Tae-kyung tracks down a North Korean refugee broker mentioned in his father’s files. Tae-kyung suspects that Major Rhee may still be alive, but the broker doesn’t know of any friends or relatives he could ask.
At the same time, Bo-won has followed Tae-kyung’s father’s phone records to a pay phone in Incheon. Alone in the city at night, she’s a little twitchy and every little sound makes her jump. Is she being followed? (That truck of doom was wrecked, right?)
As she calls Tae-kyung to find out who his father might have come to Incheon to see, a shadowy figure creeps up behind her. Bo-won gasps and the line goes dead. Fearing the worst, Tae-kyung hurries to her location where he finds the pay phone and the phone records, but no Bo-won.
Back at Jaesin, Chairman Kim shows the Beijing photo to one of his cohorts who was at the meeting. He also has an image pulled from the security footage revealing the source of the photo: Major Rhee Chul-kyu. He’s alive!
On a hunch, Tae-kyung decides to check out the motel across the street from the pay phone. Inside, Bo-won’s abductor is holding her in one of the rooms, hand clasped over her mouth. As Tae-kyung passes the motel room, Bo-won emits an involuntary squeak. He approaches the door to investigate.
As he reaches for the handle, the door flies open in his face and the fight is on. Bo-won watches in horror as Tae-kyung grapples with the kidnapper. The fight is too fast/too furious to get a good look at the assailant’s face, even as he clobbers Tae-kyung with a coffee carafe.
Finally, Tae-kyung pins him to the floor and sees who he’s been fighting for the first time. It’s the man of the hour, Major Rhee.
Later, Tae-kyung arranges a secret meeting with the president through the same numeric code his father once used. The president is shocked to find out that Major Rhee is alive. Tae-kyung believes he can help the president to reveal the truth about Yangjinri.
Chairman Kim and his cohort are wondering why Major Rhee would risk making himself known to them. Perhaps he’s looking for money in exchange for evidence he has against them? His cohort wants to have Major Rhee killed right away, but Kim thinks they’d better find out what he has on them first.
The president wants to know why Tae-kyung changed his mind about continuing to work together. Tae-kyung says he was inspired by Bo-won, who has suffered hardships again and again because of her work on this case, but continues to pursue the truth in spite of everything.
President Lee has one more question: Can Cha-young be trusted? Tae-kyung says he trusts her completely (but suddenly I’m not feeling so sure about her).
In the morning, Secretary Shin is nosing through some of the president’s papers at the Blue House. He discovers a coded message scribbled on the back of a document: “09000 + 3595 = rain shower.”
A Blue House aide informs Shin that the president is holding a special press conference. No one knows what he’s planning to announce, only that he has made the unconventional decision to hold the press conference outside the Blue House. Shin is perplexed.
Elsewhere, Chairman Kim is also wondering about the decision, but he has other problems to worry about. The lizard-tattooed assassin has learned that Major Rhee left the motel with Bo-won and Tae-kyung. Kim knows what that means — Major Rhee is working with the president.
Secretary Shin telephones Kim about the coded message. The code works out as “9AM + press conference = guest.” Kim now understands why the event is being held outside the Blue House — because a North Korean guest would not be permitted inside. Major Rhee is going to speak.
As the media prepares for their third urgent press conference in as many days, Chairman Kim is trying to find out how Major Rhee will be arriving. Shin says only his direct security detail has that information, but Kim urges him to find a way to get it. If Major Rhee is allowed to speak, it will call into question Joint Chief of Staff Kwon’s phony will and reopen the special investigation, something neither of them wants.
Cha-young catches Shin swiping the conference security plans from the security office. She warns him that the secret service will come immediately after the press conference so he’d better hurry. This is a secret between them, he reminds her. Wait, is Cha-young working with Shin? Say it ain’t so!
Shin reports the details to Chairman Kim. Major Rhee will be transported in a car with license plate number 5198 and arrive on parking level B-5. Kim scrambles his men to find the car.
Fortunately vehicle 5198 is being driven by Tae-kyung, exactly the person I would want behind the wheel if I were being pursued in a high-speed chase. Kim’s men surround 5198 and try to run Tae-kyung and Major Rhee off the road. Tae-kyung speeds through a red light, losing Kim’s men in the congested intersection.
But more cars come to take their place. It’s time for drastic measures. Tae-kyung shoots the tire of one of the cars, causing a major collision, and vehicle 5198 arrives at the parking structure without a scratch on it.
Tae-kyung races to the bottom of the garage, but is stopped on level B-4 by more of Kim’s men in cars. They emerge from their vehicles with assault rifles and begin to riddle car 5198 with bullets. Tae-kyung returns fire with his pistol, but he is far outgunned. Thinking quickly, he shoots a nearby fire extinguisher and he and Major Rhee manage to escape in the resulting cloud of smoke.
Now officially late for the press conference, Tae-kyung and Major Rhee hurry up the stairs, but the building is swarming with Kim’s men. Tae-kyung leads his precious cargo down this hallway and that, but can’t seem to find a clear path anywhere. Finally they run right into a large group of Kim’s men led by the two assassins. Tae-kyung and Major Rhee soon find themselves surrounded in a kitchen, cornered and outnumbered.
It’s ten minutes past nine and the president can’t wait for them any longer. He decides to begin the press conference.
Meanwhile, Chairman Kim has made his way to the kitchen where Tae-kyung and Major Rhee are trapped like rats. He wonders aloud what might be happening at the press conference without Major Rhee.
The president opens the conference by declaring that the results of the special investigation announced on March 6th were untrue, and the room erupts with shouted questions from reporters demanding evidence.
Flashback to Tae-kyung’s secret meeting with the president several hours earlier, a part of the conversation we didn’t see before. The president wants to know how exactly he can use Major Rhee. Tae-kyung explains that the president will need irrefutable evidence if he is going to take down men as powerful as Chairman Kim and company. Tae-kyung can get that evidence, but he needs some help from the president and the secret service.
Back to present. President Lee announces that he does in fact have evidence to support his claims.
In the kitchen, Kim offers Major Rhee five million dollars and a new identity in exchange for whatever evidence he brought with him, reminding him that it will be difficult to prove anything with just the testimony of a North Korean defector. Tae-kyung agrees that would be pretty difficult. That’s why Tae-kyung has been acting as a decoy.
The president’s evidence is actually a witness. He calls Major Rhee up to the podium. But if Major Rhee is at the press conference, who’s with Tae-kyung in the kitchen?
Flashback. Tae-kyung and Major Rhee race through the parking garage in vehicle 5198, but stop well before they reach level B-5. Major Rhee gets out of the car to follow several secret service agents and a lookalike takes his place.
Back in the present, Tae-kyung explains that they needed a second witness to corroborate Major Rhee’s story. Much to Kim’s dismay, Prosecutor Choi emerges from the corner of the kitchen where he has been hiding all along, listening to every word.
The real Major Rhee prepares to take the podium.
March 9, 9:18 AM. 13 hours, 18 minutes after the Bill of Impeachment was introduced to the Assembly.
Characters and relationships are what make a drama, and because this episode highlighted my two favorite relationships of Three Days, I’m counting it as a success. Of course I’m referring to Tae-kyung’s relationships with Bo-won and with President Lee.
Tae-kyung begins the episode in the midst of a bit of an identity crisis. He’s no longer sure if he can trust the president he’s sworn to protect. Even if he decides he can, would his guilt over shooting Team Leader Ham prevent him from doing his job properly? He goes so far as to pen his resignation, but in a brilliant bit of writing, it’s Bo-won who snaps him back to his senses.
Bo-won is an immensely likable character, and not just because she’s cute verging on adorkable. Her main appeal is her strong moral compass. She continues to do what she knows is right no matter how many problems she’s creating for herself in the process. She’s been fired from her job, blasted by an EMP, shot at, named as a wanted criminal… and still she doggedly pursues the noble goal of uncovering the truth. When Tae-kyung is at his lowest point, it’s Bo-won’s moral compass that points him due north.
But enough about the good guys; let’s talk villains. After Episode 7, I was pleased with the direction Secretary Shin was going. He had a unique point of view setting him apart from Chairman Kim. Whereas Kim is always working to protect himself, Shin was trying to protect the nation and the presidency. He did some terrible things in pursuit of that goal, but boy if it didn’t make him an interesting character. In this episode, I feel like he was betrayed by the writer. He lost his unique perspective and became another Chairman Kim lackey. It’s certainly easier to manage your characters if you can lump all the bad guys together that way, but easier writing is seldom better.
It’s hard to imagine how Chairman Kim can wriggle his way out of this one, but with eight episodes left I suspect he’s got something up his sleeve. As fast as this show moves, I’m confident that we’re not running out of material yet as this episode raised a handful of intriguing new questions.
What were the other four pieces of mail sent by Joint Chief of Staff Kwon on the night he died?
What’s the secret shared by the president and the security director?
What’s the big day coming up to which Chairman Kim referred?
Has Cha-young really gone over to the dark side?
Will anyone ever get some sleep?