Three Days: Episode 14
The race is on to identify a Jaesin mole working inside the Blue House. But in this mystery-heavy episode, the biggest question on my mind is how many times can you attempt to assassinate a president in the course of nine days? We won’t know for sure until next week’s finale, but this episode adds a couple hash marks to the tally.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
President Lee steps out onto a rooftop and into a sniper’s crosshairs, ready to trade his life in exchange for Cha-young’s safety. But Tae-kyung has also made his way to the rooftop and you know he’s not about to let it go down that way. Sure enough, just as the sniper pulls the trigger, Tae-kyung tackles the president to the ground.
From the nearby tower where he’s been watching the action unfold, Chairman Kim can’t believe his eyes as the president sits up, a little dazed, but with no new holes in his body to speak of.
Kim’s sniper doesn’t get off so easy — a Blue House SWAT team has taken him out with a bullet through the brain. The dominoes just keep falling for Chairman Kim as secret service agents subdue his minions stationed inside the building. The good guys are really on point today.
Out of allies, Chairman Kim makes a run for the exit, but his getaway is halted by the security team leader who places him under arrest for his connection to the latest in a series of many presidential assassination attempts. So does this mean the security team leader is not the Blue House mole?
Out on the rooftop, the president apologizes to Tae-kyung and the security team for causing them to worry (a bit of an understatement). He doesn’t appear at all relieved to still be breathing. In fact, he almost seems a little disappointed.
Later, back at the Blue House, Tae-kyung confronts the security team leader about his role in the incident. Tae-kyung had alerted him to what was going to happen at the movie theater. Why would he ignore it and recklessly put the president in danger like that?
The answer lies in a flashback to earlier that night. In preparation for his night out at the movies, the president meets with the prime minister to tell him to get ready because he’ll be getting a promotion to acting president very soon.
The security team leader easily guesses the reason behind this action. He suspects that the president intends to let Chairman Kim murder him at the movie theater tonight. He urges the president not to go, but President Lee will not be swayed. He sees this as the only way to stop Kim once and for all, by leaving behind evidence that Kim was responsible for his death.
Thankfully, the security team leader has a good head on his shoulders and recognizes an alternate plan. He sends the SWAT team to the scene. As the president steps out on the roof, the SWAT team guns down the sniper and also identifies Chairman Kim calling the shots from a window in the tower next door.
In the present, Chairman Kim is now at police headquarters undergoing interrogation. He stays cool as a cucumber, declining to answer any questions without a lawyer present.
But he doesn’t realize just how screwed he truly is. Prosecutor Choi arrives with some additional charges against Chairman Kim: the kidnapping of Agent Lee Cha-young. She’s perfectly safe and ready to testify about his role in the assassination attempt.
There’s just one piece of the puzzle still missing. Who is Chairman Kim’s mole inside the Blue House? Kim dodges the question, laughing in the prosecutor’s face. Prosecutor Choi looks mad enough to hit him, but just then an assistant arrives with Kim’s phone records. Time to get to the bottom of this.
At the Blue House, Tae-kyung is wondering why the president didn’t trust him enough to tell him about the SWAT team plan ahead of time. But it’s precisely because he trusts Tae-kyung that he couldn’t tell him. The president knew Tae-kyung would never allow him to go forward with such a risky plan.
Tae-kyung scolds him for being so reckless, but the president reminds him that everything worked out. He’s safe, Cha-young is safe, and Chairman Kim is in custody. We can all finally relax now, right?
Wrong. The security team leader is at the door to burst President Lee’s bubble with news about Chairman Kim’s man inside the Blue House. Kim’s phone records have led investigators to a particular phone in the Blue House. The owner of the phone, and the identity of Blue House mole is… a nobody background actor. Like, just a complete rando. Huh, anti-climax.
The president is in visible distress as this apparently beloved staff member is arrested. The security team leader wants to investigate everyone in the Blue House, just in case there are still others among them with ties to Jaesin (like maybe a character any of us has ever noticed before?), but the president tells him not to bother. He still intends to announce his resignation in two days’ time.
Tae-kyung and the security team leader protest, saying that since Chairman Kim has been arrested, the president will likely be cleared of any charges against him. But President Lee feels too guilty about his past to continue in office. His final act as leader of the nation will be to visit Yangjinri in person to atone for his wrongs.
Tae-kyung goes to see Cha-young at the hospital where Bo-won has been watching over her. As he looks at the sleeping Cha-young, he thinks back to the times when Cha-young encouraged him to keep going, to keep doing the right thing even when it was difficult.
Watching him stare at Cha-young for far too long makes Bo-won a little uncomfortable and she decides to leave them alone. Since the danger seems to be over for real this time, she is once again ready to head home to Seojori. She thanks Tae-kyung for everything he’s done for her and makes a hasty exit.
As she heads down the corridor, her true feelings are written all over her face. She’s not ready to say goodbye so soon. She takes out her phone to write Tae-kyung a text message (Doesn’t she know you’re supposed to wait two days? Play it cool, girl), but before she can finish typing, he appears in the hallway behind her. “Have you eaten?” he asks. Bo-won is struck momentarily speechless.
At dinner, Tae-kyung wonders how Bo-won was planning to get home, it being the middle of the night and her car having been recently reduced to a pile of ash. He invites her to spend the night at his place again. Don’t anybody get too excited though; she’ll be there all by herself this time because Tae-kyung has to report to work.
She asks when he’ll return, but he tells her secret service agents never say they’ll be back — it’s always possible that they won’t. All he can say is that he hopes they see each other again soon. Bo-won hopes so, too. (That makes three of us.)
Chairman Kim seems to have friends everywhere he goes, and police headquarters is no exception. His allies in the police department slip him a cell phone, which he uses to call the creepy American guy from Falcon. “It’s time to prepare for our final plan,” he tells him.
On the morning of the Yangjinri visit, the Blue House security team prepares for the outing. The president’s itinerary is to be kept a secret from the media and the citizens of Yangjinri. Given his role in the 1998 incident, there could very well be Yangjinri locals who’d like to harm him. This will be the security team’s last event with President Lee and they want everything to go smoothly.
Prosecutor Choi phones Tae-kyung with an unsettling development. On closer inspection of Chairman Kim’s phone records, he’s discovered that Kim was speaking to a second Blue House mole just before the attempted sniping. The second mole was using a phone in the security team’s office.
Tae-kyung looks around at his fellow agents preparing to escort the president to Yangjinri. Which one of them could it be?
He brings the news to the security team leader and urges him to cancel the Yangjinri event. The team leader is reluctant to cancel the president’s final outing — if he’s called into court following his resignation, this could be his only opportunity to pay his respects to the people of Yangjinri.
He agrees to arrange for an investigation into the alibis of all the agents. Tae-kyung volunteers to stay behind and lead the investigation and the team leader promises to keep careful watch over the president throughout the event.
The president is disappointed to hear that Tae-kyung will not be accompanying him to Yangjinri. As he reaches out to shake his hand, the president remembers the day they met when Tae-kyung first promised to protect him. He also thinks back to when Tae-kyung reaffirmed that promise just hours before. They shake hands and the president thanks him for his service.
Getting into detective mode, Tae-kyung uses security camera footage to confirm that Mole #1 was out of the building when the call was placed to Chairman Kim from the security office. That means it was definitely a second mole with access to that office who made the call.
He determines that most of the offices in the building were empty at that time, so the mole could have used just about any phone he wanted, but he probably would have chosen the closest one. The schedule for the conference room directly across the hall from the security office indicates that a manager’s meeting was taking place at the time of the phone call.
When Tae-kyung calls the security team leader to ask about the meeting, he happens to be standing right next to one of the meeting’s attendees. He reports that at the time of the phone call, the communications team leader, upon hearing that the SWAT team had been sent out with the president to the movie theater, excused himself from the meeting to attend to an urgent matter.
Now we know who our second mole is, but where he is is a different story. Tae-kyung finds security footage of him leaving the Blue House by car thirty minutes ago, but where he was headed is anyone’s guess. The police are notified and the search is on, but Tae-kyung gets in his car to set out on his own, headed for Yangjinri.
Meanwhile, a police officer escorts Prosecutor Choi into Chairman Kim’s interrogation room, but Kim is still unwilling to talk, possibly because he knows who’s coming down the hall at that very moment: the shady assistant prosecutor with an order to have the suspect transferred into his custody.
Choi asks Chairman Kim if he’s ready to make a confession. “Are you ready,” Kim counters, “to die?” For the first time we get a good look at Prosecutor Choi’s police escort and, horror of horrors, it’s Kim’s newest assassin in disguise. Please tell me what I think is happening is not happening.
The assistant prosecutor and Officer Assassin accompany Chairman Kim out of the building and he’s free to create evil mayhem once again. As they drive off in a squad car, Kim verifies that his helicopter is ready and waiting for him. It’s time to pay the president a visit.
Inside, an officer begins to wonder what’s keeping Prosecutor Choi so long. He pokes his head into the interrogation room and finds Choi face down on the table, blood pooling on the floor beneath him. So long, dear prosecutor.
As the president approaches Yangjinri, his mind is filled with the tragic events of 1998. Posing as employees at the Yangjinri incident memorial, the president’s security team asks all visitors in the park to vacate.
The police finally catch up to the communications team leader and place him under arrest for his role in the attempted sniping, but the guy seems genuinely confused as to what they’re even talking about. Uh-oh, maybe he wasn’t the second mole after all?
When the president arrives in Yangjinri, he’s overcome with emotion and can’t even bring himself to get out of the car. The security team leader asks if he would like to return some other time, but the president pulls himself together and begins his slow, somber walk to the memorial, surrounded by his devoted security detail.
When they reach the memorial, the president asks for some privacy and the agents leave him. He reads the names engraved on the memorial of the 24 civilians who died in 1998, choking back the tears of guilt welling up in his eyes as he pictures the horrific events of that day and remembers the role he played in planning them.
Elsewhere, the communications team leader has been taken in for questioning, but he still doesn’t seem to understand why he’s been arrested and claims that he is not the one who left during the manager’s meeting.
At the memorial, the security team leader asks the third man who was at the meeting to confirm the report he received from the chief of the command post earlier. As you may have guessed, the third guy’s version of events is slightly different. He says it was not the communications team leader who left during the meeting, it was actually the chief of the command post. You know, the one who’s sitting in the security bus right now, keeping a sinister eye on the security camera feed of the president at the memorial.
The security team leader orders the agents to arrest the chief of the command post and alerts the president that they need to return to the Blue House immediately. When they board the security bus, the agents find that the chief of the command post is already gone.
A horrible screech comes over the agents’ earpieces and the signal goes dead. The team leader knows what that means — an EMP bomb has been detonated nearby. The team prepares to whisk the president away to safety, but that plan gets put on hold when they hear automatic gunfire from nearby.
In his car, Tae-kyung races through the town of Yangjinri while his fellow agents crowd around the president and brace themselves for whatever happens next.
“Shoe leather” is a term used to describe the steps a character takes getting from one major story event to the next. For example: Our heroine gets a phone call that Timmy fell down the well. She quickly grabs her keys, gets in the car, starts the car, plugs the location of the well into her GPS, drives to the well, gets out of the car, and saves Timmy! Hooray! That whole middle section there? That’s shoe leather. (The term comes from all the leather used up from the bottom of her shoes as we watch every footstep she takes.)
Sometimes it’s necessary or desirable to show the shoe leather. It can keep the audience from getting confused (“Wait, how did he find out about that?”). It can create suspense, like when we watch with bated breath as a character walks slowly toward the front door of the haunted house.
But make no mistake. We’re watching a show to see story, not shoe leather. I think it’s part of the nature of Three Days to show a little more shoe leather than we really need, but when you’ve got more shoe leather on the screen than actual story events, you’re in trouble, and that’s exactly what happened in this episode. I’ll point out a couple of the worst offenses, but if you’d like an exhaustive listing, basically just see above under “Episode 14 Recap.”
Do I need to watch a whole scene of Prosecutor Choi explaining to Tae-kyung how he’s going to head back over to police headquarters right now to try to coax a confession from Chairman Kim? If you can come up with a single thing we’d be missing out on if that scene had been left on the cutting room floor, you’re a far more perceptive viewer than I.
The two different accounts of what happened at the manager’s meeting were a nifty little device, but was there not a more expeditious way for Tae-kyung to figure out that the second mole was in that meeting? The amount of screen time spent on watching security camera footage, traveling from office to office, reading all the schedules, finding out who went where for dinner — was I the only one ripping hanks of hair from my own scalp?
And we certainly can’t fail to mention how many times we checked in with both the president and Tae-kyung en route to Yangjinri, as though going more than five minutes without an insert of them sitting in traffic would make the through-line of the action incomprehensible.
This episode had some lovely elements to it. I always love to watch them ratchet up the romantic tension between Tae-kyung and Bo-won. The president’s guilt over Yangjinri woven through the episode was a lovely character development, and its culmination as he read the names on the memorial was really touching. But the abundance of shoe leather and the glut of flashback montages from previous episodes make me wonder if the writer is running short on story in the final episodes. I can only hope that the two filler episodes this week were only serving to put the pieces in place for an amazing finale next week. I’m sure that’s it, right?