Three Days: Episode 10
Three Days’ non-linear storytelling was once again stretched to its limits in this installment. With so many jumps through time backwards, forwards, and sideways, you almost feel like you need some kind of four-dimensional map to see how it’s put together. And yet somehow, it all actually works. And I kind of can’t imagine a better way to tell this episode’s story, which really began a couple days (and a few episodes) prior. Cha-young fans, get ready for some of the answers you’ve been craving.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
March 9, 11:45 PM. 27 hours, 45 minutes after the motion for impeachment.
Bo-won and Tae-kyung have infiltrated the Jaesin building. While Bo-won is trying to copy files from Chairman Kim’s computer up in the penthouse, Tae-kyung is down on the ground floor where he’s just been nabbed by Kim and his bodyguards. But Tae-kyung isn’t nearly so concerned with how to get away as he is with why Agent Lee Cha-young is amongst his captors.
Kim explains that Cha-young came to give him some information. She tries to excuse herself to return at a more convenient time, but Kim won’t hear of it and Tae-kyung is also very interested to hear why exactly she’s meeting with the evilest of evils in the dead of night.
As everyone boards the elevator to move the conversation to Kim’s penthouse, Bo-won has found Kim’s banking records and is frantically trying to copy the files to her jump drive with no luck. Finally she resorts to scrawling down what she can on a notepad and heads for the exit, but the door to the stairs is locked and the elevator is making its way higher and higher…
When the elevator door opens, the hallway is empty. On their way into the penthouse, Tae-kyung is the only one who notices Bo-won peeking out of a vent. (We had to have at least one person in an air duct or it wouldn’t be a true action show.)
Gracious host Kim invites Tae-kyung and Cha-young to have a seat and pours them each a drink. Tae-kyung refuses both. Kim asks if secret service agents really have to trust each other with their lives. Tae-kyung says it’s important not to trust blindly because agents can become the best assassins. He learned that lesson the hard way, huh?
Out in the hall, one of Kim’s bodyguards spots a screw that has been removed from the vent cover. Sensing something screwy going on (ha), he shines a flashlight into the vent. There’s nowhere for Bo-won to hide.
Tae-kyung begins questioning Cha-young about her role in the press conference blackout. Kim asks him not to be so hard on her. After all, the secret service is a mess these days. Isn’t it time for the agency to be disbanded?
Tae-kyung smashes a glass against the wall in anger. The noise brings Kim’s bodyguards in from the hall, giving Bo-won the opportunity to get to the elevator.
Kim won’t tolerate bad manners in his penthouse and has Tae-kyung removed. The bodyguards deposit him on a downward-bound elevator. You guys sure you don’t want to escort him all the way down to the street? Jaesin operates on the honor system, evidently.
Cha-young gives Kim the wireless access point used to create the blackout. He says he’s been wanting to meet her because of her close relationship with Tae-kyung. He’s wondering why, after helping to take down Team Leader Ham, she’s decided to switch sides. Cha-young explains: since learning that the president is a murderer, she can’t continue to protect him. She’s looking to protect herself now.
After she leaves, Kim instructs the lizard-tattooed assassin to keep an eye on her. He suspects she may be after the copy that Secretary Shin has. Copy of what, we wonder.
Alone in the penthouse, Kim discovers that his computer has been left on. Uh-oh — someone’s been looking at his secret bank records.
Bo-won and Tae-kyung link up outside and drive away to a secluded parking lot where she shows him the notes she jotted down. In January of this year, Chairman Kim transferred $100 million through a Chinese bank. Tae-kyung recognizes the name of the bank from his father’s records. It’s the same one from which he received the $10 million deposit for the Yangjinri incident in 1998.
Bo-won and Tae-kyung are now certain that Kim is planning something. And if the deposit is ten times the amount paid for Yangjinri, it adds up to big trouble.
Meanwhile, Chairman Kim and Lizard Tattoo have been reviewing the security tapes. They can quite clearly see computer hacker Bo-won slipping away, aided by Tae-kyung’s distraction.
Bo-won wants to alert the president right away so he can order a search of Jaesin or call Kim in for questioning. Tae-kyung reminds her that President Lee is on shaky ground right now. He doesn’t have any friends left that he can call on.
At the Blue House, the president steps into a conference room and remembers it as it once was. His staff are all there working together, including Secretary Shin and Tae-kyung’s father. On seeing their president, everyone stops working to welcome him with a respectful bow. The memory dissolves. The president is all alone in an empty room.
Flashback to a different memory. Team Leader Ham is concerned that the president has been going on unplanned outings unescorted. For his safety, Ham tells him, he needs to keep the secret service by him at all times.
Then a memory from just days before. Team Leader Ham points a gun in the president’s face. Just as he moves to pull the trigger, Tae-kyung takes him down with a bullet to the back of the head.
One final recent memory: an argument with Secretary Shin — the very moment he knew that Shin was no longer on his side.
Back in the present, President Lee asks for Secretary Shin to be summoned.
Tae-kyung tells Bo-won about a memory of his own from the day before. As he prepares to drive Major Rhee to the press conference, he asks why the major is on their side. “Because I need to stop it,” he says. He declines to give any further explanation, saying he will tell it all to the president when he sees him today. Rhee had information about Kim’s secret plans.
Tae-kyung intends to retrace Rhee’s steps after he crossed over into South Korea, talk to everyone Rhee talked to and find out who knows what. He also wants to investigate Cha-young. What is she up to and why did she change horses in midstream?
At that moment, Cha-young is composing a text message to Tae-kyung. She types just a few words, then thinks better of it and deletes the message. Tae-kyung tries to phone her, but she ignores the call.
At his sit-down with Secretary Shin, the president presents him with the photo he received from Major Rhee depicting Chairman Kim’s recent meeting with the North Koreans. He tries to appeal to the good in Shin, explaining how everything is happening just the way it did in 1998. Shin has to stop Chairman Kim.
But Shin refuses to believe the president’s theory that history is repeating itself. President Lee warns Shin against believing he has control of the situation: “To Chairman Kim, everyone else is just a pawn on the chessboard.”
Elsewhere, Prosecutor Choi’s staff have been poring over the new version of Confidential 98. They’re concerned that the document doesn’t have enough concrete evidence to go on, and an investigation against Jaesin would surely be an uphill battle. Choi is furious with his staff for getting cold feet about investigating the high-powered suspects. He reminds them that they were prepared to prosecute the president himself. This is no different. He orders them to start fact-checking the document.
In a flashback, Choi tells President Lee of his intention to reopen the investigation. The president advises him to be careful.
In the present, a Choi staffer makes a phone call to tell someone that the investigation is being reopened. On the other end of that call? The assassin with the lizard tattoo.
Lizard Tattoo relays the message to Chairman Kim, who is unable to conceal how nervous it makes him. At that very moment, he receives a phone call from Secretary Shin requesting a meeting right away.
Shin gets in his car and drives off to meet with Kim. In the same parking lot, Tae-kyung is still trying to reach Cha-young. As luck would have it, she’s been sitting in her car in the very same lot. He spots her car as she pulls away, following Secretary Shin.
Shin notifies Chairman Kim that the president is onto them, but Kim is not too worried. He knows that Bo-won’s computer hacking was only able to tell her that a deposit made; it’s suspicious, but not hard evidence. Shin asks for reassurance that everything will go exactly according to the plan. No repeats of the Yangjinri incident. Kim promises no civilians will be hurt this time. Am I the only one who doesn’t quite believe him?
Tae-kyung follows Cha-young to her destination: the Jaesin building. In the parking garage, he finds her returning to her car with a sheaf of papers. He drives toward her, but a different vehicle is also approaching from another direction. The mystery car guns the engine and plows into Cha-young full force! She goes flying through the air like a lawn dart and slams down hard on the pavement.
The car stops and Lizard Tattoo (man, I hate this guy) leans out to grab the papers she was carrying before speeding away. Tae-kyung rushes to her side, but things look grim. She’s bleeding profusely from the head. She asks Tae-kyung to get a message to the president…
Flashback. Cha-young meets with the president to share the detective work she’s been doing on the receipt from the mail Joint Chief of Staff Kwon sent on the night he died. Based on the price on the receipt and the current postage rates, the package had to have contained more than ten pages, but the envelope the president received contained only a single page, Kwon’s suicide note. Someone inside the Blue House must have switched the contents.
But President Lee already knows who it is — Secretary Shin. He hasn’t done anything yet because as soon as Shin knows the president is looking for the real document, he will destroy it. He needs to somehow get Shin give up the document freely.
Present-day Cha-young is slipping into unconsciousness, but her flashback counterpart is feeling a call to action. She asks to be the one to procure the document from Secretary Shin. The president protests, but Cha-young is adamant. Protecting the president is her job.
At the hospital, Cha-young is rushed into emergency surgery. She reaches for Tae-kyung’s hand before blacking out again.
Another flashback finds Cha-young working on Shin. She tells him she knows he switched the envelopes, but she trusts him — he wouldn’t have done it without a good reason. He explains that the document he swiped contained false evidence that the crooked president could use to clear his name. He asks Cha-young to help him. “What can I do?” she replies.
Tae-kyung watches as surgeons operate on Cha-young. Their frantic efforts indicate it’s not going well. She’s flatlining. As they attempt to revive her with defibrillator paddles, he thinks back to the president’s question from the day before — “Is Agent Lee Cha-young trustworthy?”
Flashing back to the parking garage where she had just been run over (stay with me), Cha-young needs Tae-kyung to give the president a message: “It was not a copy. You have to find it.”
As Cha-young continues her struggle for life, Lizard Tattoo presents Chairman Kim with the recovered papers. Just as they suspected, she had taken the document from Shin’s car. What they didn’t realize is that it’s not a copy. Kim’s eyes widen with fear as he flips through the document.
At the Blue House, Tae-kyung is an emotional train wreck, ransacking Secretary Shin’s office. The president himself comes to stop him. Tae-kyung is furious. Why didn’t President Lee tell him that Shin had the original Confidential 98? Why did he allow Cha-young to do something so dangerous? Now she’s in a coma and no one can tell if she’ll live or die.
In a series of flashbacks, we see Cha-young earning Shin’s trust, first by allowing him to steal the security plans for Major Rhee’s press conference, then by helping to create the blackout. Meanwhile, she tries searching his office but finds nothing. Later, she observes him stashing some papers in the glove compartment of his car. Could it be Confidential 98?
Cha-young obtains a spare key to Shin’s car from his desk drawer. Determined to get the document before he hands it over to Chairman Kim, she follows him to the Jaesin building and easily snags it from the glove box before being struck down by Lizard Tattoo on the way back to her car.
In the present, the president’s only defense for endangering Cha-young is that he needs that document to stop Chairman Kim. Tae-kyung can’t control his anger. Kim has killed so many people already. He even tried to have the president killed. “You’re the president of Korea! Why can’t you do anything?”
The president gingerly picks up a book and throws it at Shin’s copy machine. “Will that change anything?” he asks. Calm as can be, he smashes a vase against the wall. “Will that bring back the dead?” Even if his enemies cheat, he took an oath to uphold the laws of this country. As president he is bound to play by the rules.
Tae-kyung steadies himself, but looks as though his blood will boil when he reminds the president about the $100 million deposit. Something much worse than Yangjinri is coming.
He starts to leave, but a noise from the copy machine makes him pause. He has a thought: what if Shin’s copy of Confidential 98 isn’t on paper? He scans through the recent activity on the copy machine — the document came from Shin’s USB.
Meanwhile, Bo-won has retraced Major Rhee’s steps to the seaside town of Daesungri. As she follows Rhee’s ghost through the town, she imagines the marina at Yangjinri and the devastation there in 1998. Why did Rhee come here? Was he plotting something?
She calls Tae-kyung to let him know about her suspicions. It can’t be a coincidence that Rhee crossed over from the North and came right to this town that is so similar to Yangjinri. It must have something to do with the $100 million deposit. Tae-kyung has to stop Chairman Kim, but to do that he’ll need Shin’s USB.
The president and secret service locate Shin and confiscate his wallet. President Lee extracts the USB, disguised as a credit card, thanking Shin for keeping such good watch over it for him. Before he goes, he notifies Shin that he is being relieved of his duties as Chief Secretary. Boom — that’s how you president.
Tae-kyung calls Prosecutor Choi to tell him about the USB. The file has a security lock on it and can’t be e-mailed, so Tae-kyung will deliver it in person. Choi’s shady staffer is keeping an eye on the situation.
But President Lee refuses to hand over the USB to Tae-kyung. He wants to take it to Choi himself. Tae-kyung insists on escorting him, but the president won’t allow it, reminding Tae-kyung that he is no longer a secret service agent.
As the president travels to meet with Choi, the sun rises on a new day, the day the Assembly will vote on President Lee’s impeachment. Against Lee’s orders, Tae-kyung follows behind the presidential motorcade in his own car. It looks like he might come in handy, because Choi’s staffer was kind enough to give Chairman Kim a heads up about what’s going down.
Just before they reach the prosecutor’s office, the president orders the motorcade to turn around. Confused, Tae-kyung phones a secret service agent who tells him the president has changed their destination. They’re headed for Jaesin headquarters.
Tae-kyung pulls up next to the motorcade, sounding his horn to get the president’s attention, but he is ignored. One of the secret service cars pulls out ahead of him, forcing him to brake.
The president arrives at Jaesin with Tae-kyung still doggedly pursuing him. As the president enters the building, the secret service seize Tae-kyung who calls out to President Lee, “Why are you doing this??” An agent has to pull his gun to keep Tae-kyung back.
Alone in Chairman Kim’s penthouse, President Lee offers a deal. Kim has won. Lee is ready to give up the USB and cover up the whole Yangjinri incident. Kim just has to stop the impeachment.
March 10, 8:15 AM. 35 hours, 15 minutes after the impeachment was presented.
Much of this episode was devoted to revealing Cha-young to be a good guy all along. And since Three Days likes it good guys good and its bad guys bad, she isn’t just mostly on the side of right. She’s good as gold. She’s been taking a dangerous walk behind enemy lines, driven by a desire to atone for her mistake. (A mistake that was really pretty minor when you think about it. Okay, she failed to understand the significance of the receipt… until she did realize it. And ultimately it made little difference when she put it together, or if she ever did at all, because the president had figured it out on his own anyhow. But I digress.)
Up to now, Cha-young has acted as a foil for Tae-kyung, the Tae-kyung that might have been if his father had lived. Both characters have the same strong sense of duty that was instilled in them through their secret service training. But while Tae-kyung started working outside the system, following his sense of duty through whatever means necessary, Cha-young has continued to play it by the book.
I’m reminded of the scene in Episode 6 where Tae-kyung has forced his way into Agent Hwang’s interrogation room. As the police are pinning him to the table, Cha-young gives him this disappointed look as if to say, “Dude, what’s happened to you?”
That’s why it’s so interesting now to see Cha-young pushed out of her comfort zone by accepting the role of double agent. There’s no map to follow here. She’s still pursuing what’s right, but she has to blaze her own trail. And that means doing some things that aren’t so righteous, like helping to create the press conference blackout — an event which led to Major Rhee’s murder, I’ll remind you.
Cha-young being struck by the car was one of the more intense moments of the series for me, completely unexpected and shocking in its execution. I’m thinking that her current comatose state is a sign that we can expect a full recovery, but I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long. I’d be very interested to see how her trip to the dark side and back, via the brink of death, has affected her.
One final thought on this episode. Why is Chairman Kim now consciously deciding not to kill Tae-kyung? We’ve seen them face-to-face twice this week, and both times Kim lets this major thorn in his side walk away with little more than a warning. When Team Leader Ham decided not to kill Cha-young for fear of raising suspicions, I bought it. But it’s been clearly demonstrated that Kim is completely willing to have Tae-kyung killed in as ostentatious and public a way as you please. Anyone remember the assault rifles in the parking garage in Episode 8?
So why, when he has him outnumbered and unarmed in the privacy of the penthouse, does he not just get it over with? The only answer I can come up with is that we viewers at home still need him for six more episodes, which means that Chairman Kim is more thoughtful and generous than I would have guessed.