Three Days: Episode 9
We’re in the second three-day chunk of Three Days, which escalates the story—and the stakes—nicely, adding a twist and heightening conflict. Despite the dumbness of naming a drama Three Days and then exceeding three days in your timeline, I do think this escalation is working for the story; the initial premise of the first three-day time span felt like we were in familiar narrative territory, but the story continues to deepen and our characters get even more enmeshed into the bigger plot.
SONG OF THE DAY
Eastern Sidekick – “묽은 밤” (Loose night) [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
President Lee commences his press conference by stating that the Yangjinri report findings are false. He confirms that he has evidence to support his statement, and introduces it—or rather, him. Enter Major Rhee Chul-kyu, whose arrival comes courtesy of Tae-kyung and Rhee’s decoy. (I’m using Rhee over Lee, as that’s how North Koreans pronounce the name and the difference is preserved in the Hangul spellings.)
President Lee declares that Yangjinri was a tragedy that mustn’t be repeated and that he will give full cooperation to the special investigation. He introduces Major Rhee as the man who coordinated the Yangjinri Incident and steps aside to give him the podium.
Belowstairs, Tae-kyung and his decoy are cornered by Chairman Kim’s army of lackeys, who realize they’ve been outmaneuvered when Prosecutor Choi joins the party, having heard the whole exchange. My mind is doing a quick wait-how-much-incriminating-stuff-did-they-just-reveal replay, which must be the same thought process running through Chairman Kim’s brain. And Prosecutor Choi overheard plenty—such as Chairman Kim trying to bribe Rhee.
Everyone hangs onto Rhee’s every word as he explains the deal that took place at the expense of human lives and starts to reveal who dictated the proceedings. Suddenly the room goes dark—the power is cut. A confused murmur ripples through the building.
Tae-kyung takes advantage of the distraction to slip away, while secret service jumps forward to surround the president. A loud bang (a gunshot?) sounds and the guards escort the president out of the room, leaving Rhee behind in their haste to secure the VIP. President Lee urges them to protect Rhee, and now I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Tae-kyung arrives at the press conference hall just as Rhee is being escorted out the exit by men in suits—good guys or bad guys? I’m betting bad. Tae-kyung dashes after them.
The president is shown to his car, but first asks his staff urgently what happened to their special witness. Only grim looks greet his question.
Watching the press conference on TV, Bo-won realizes that something’s gone awry and hurries off.
Agents are able to turn the power back on in the building, just in time for Tae-kyung to arrive on the parking level and see a car screeching off. Chairman Kim tries to leave as well, but Prosecutor Choi isn’t done with him yet. He holds up some documents that Tae-kyung had given him, and Chairman Kim’s eyes widen to read the title: Confidential 98.
Prosecutor Choi declares the document quite interesting and lists the names of our main baddies, which includes Chairman Kim Do-jin. Although the chairman does a creditable job of keeping his cool and telling the prosecutor to investigate away, he leaves the encounter fuming and orders his lizard-tattooed henchman to locate Tae-kyung, stat.
Tae-kyung drives out of the building not too far behind the gray car—driven by our younger flower boy assassin, apparently named Yohan—and follows it through traffic. Yohan’s driving gets increasingly erratic as he becomes aware he’s picked up a tail, and he weaves in and out of traffic and ends up at a construction site.
Tae-kyung gets out of the car and starts running up the stairs of the half-built structure… just as a body falls from the top of the building. It’s a long way down to the concrete, and a hard fall. Rhee lies on the ground in a pool of blood. Crap.
Tae-kyung bolts in that direction, only to get clobbered with a two by four on his way down. Chairman Kim calmly joins him with his entourage of killers and tells Tae-kyung that this will be the most unfortunate day of his life, because today’s the day he made the chairman’s shit list. (I’m paraphrasing.)
Chairman Kim states that he’d once told the same thing to President Lee, to not do anything or risk lives being lost. Tae-kyung’s interference is what killed Major Rhee, he says, and continuing in this fashion will result in more deaths. “When you lose the people around you one by one, remember this: They died because of you.” (OR, orrrrrrrr, they died because the chairman killed them? Just sayin’.)
The chairman promises to make Tae-kyung’s death as painful as possible. Tae-kyung growls back a promise of his own: “I’ll make sure people know how much of a crazy bastard you are.” The chairman laughs in his face and leaves.
Tae-kyung rushes to Major Rhee’s side. He’s still alive but not long for this world, and he hands over a photograph—the same one sent to Chairman Kim. He barely manages to ask Tae-kyung to give it to the president before dying.
At the press conference site, the secret service gets to work locating the source of the blackout. But the bad guys are a step ahead, and we see a piece of equipment being stolen from the security room, effectively covering their tracks.
Bo-won arrives in the building and asks to see Tae-kyung, but lacks the proper access to be let through. She sees Cha-young walking by, though, which piques her interest.
President Lee meets with Prosecutor Choi, who admits that at first he didn’t believe him. He didn’t even want to meet the president, thinking it would color his objectivity. But it’s that integrity that led the president to entrust the investigation to him in the first place, and he asks Choi to reveal the true story of Yangjinri.
President Lee confirms Jaesin’s chairman’s involvement, outlining Jaesin’s deal-making with Falcon that began sixteen years ago. Chairman Kim built his network of powerful connections with his slush fund of dirty money, which was handled by one of his cohorts, a fund manager who was recently murdered. The president knows that a signed contract between the chairman and the fund manager exists, which would serve as hard proof if it were found.
President Lee gives Choi the warning that men of power benefited tremendously from these dealings, and will want to silence the truth of Yangjinri.
22 hours after introduction of impeachment bill
The secret service determines that the blackout was caused by an unauthorized user hacking into the system. Just then, they receive an unexpected visit from a special prosecutor who asks for a roster of agents working during the blackout. He insinuates that it’s easier for an insider to have flipped a power switch than for an outsider to penetrate the heavily protected presidential network. Our young techie agent argues that it could have been done via a wireless access point inside the building—the device that was swiped.
The prime minister arrives at the Blue House to seek a meeting with the president, only to get blocked by Secretary Shin, who asks, “Do you still trust the president?” Clearly not for long with you playing Iago.
Shin suggests that the blackout was orchestrated by the president as a diversion from the impeachment vote. After all, in the aftermath, talk has shifted away from the president being a murderous traitor to speculating about other culprits.
Bo-won rushes to the hospital to catch Tae-kyung on his way out. He’s pretty roughed up from his clash with the chairman’s killers but he’s got more important things to do than sit around healing. He needs to see the president right away, and while Bo-won stops arguing, she isn’t about to obey when he tells her to leave.
They stop short to watch the news report playing on the hospital television (what would this drama do for exposition if not for the news?), which outlines the conflicting stories coming out about the blackout. The Blue House is arguing an external hacking attack, and the prosecutor’s office is pursuing the internal job theory.
Bo-won has the same thought as the techie agent, thinking that it’s possible to hack into a system utilizing a wireless access point—and she happens to have seen one while the press conference was being set up.
Ah, now we flash back to her spotting Cha-young in the building and following. Cha-young enters a bathroom, where she seems to be deeply rattled by something. The leap to the dark side, perhaps?
So Bo-won watches as Cha-young pulls a wireless device out of her bag—the one she’d just removed from the scene of the crime. With Cha-young playing double agent, it’s no wonder her teammates can’t find anything.
But Tae-kyung can’t—and doesn’t—believe Cha-young would do anything of the sort. He says firmly that Bo-won must have seen wrong.
And yet, Cha-young makes the drive to the Han River, that site of all of dramaland’s shady rendezvous and conspiracy plottings. She meets Secretary Shin there and hands him the wireless access point.
Tae-kyung’s departure from the hospital is prevented by the arrival of the team of Seoul prosecutors, who ask to take him in for some questioning. Tae-kyung tells them flatly that he has no knowledge of the blackout and wasn’t on duty then, but is told this has nothing to do with that.
To the interrogation room he goes. Sure, they’re not accusing him of the blackout, but that’s no consolation, since now he’s been pegged as a suspect in Major Rhee’s murder. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Tae-kyung explains that he followed Rhee to the construction site after seeing him kidnapped, but the prosecutor is the height of skeptical. His investigation has revealed that nobody was there at the construction site other than Tae-kyung, ergo Tae-kyung was the only one who could have shoved the body off the building.
And so, the prosecutor accuses Tae-kyung of bringing in Rhee to provide false testimony regarding Yangjinri, then killing him to shut him up, all upon the president’s orders. Granted it’s not the most far-fetched theory, especially since the prosecutor has made the link to Tae-kyung’s father: Daddy Han was one of the Yangjinri co-conspirators, so Tae-kyung could have offed Rhee to cover up Dad’s crime.
Tae-kyung confirms that Han Ki-joon is his father, but challenges the prosecutor’s accusations as baseless. Either he’s got no evidence, or he’s just decided Tae-kyung’s guilty and is acting upon that assumption. Hm, has Chairman Kim gotten to the prosecutor’s office too? Or was he just careful enough to remove any evidence to link him to it? Not sure which is better.
The prosecutor concedes that there is no evidence to back his theory, but he’s so certain that he’s right that he declares it’s only a matter of time before he takes Tae-kyung down with that proof.
Tae-kyung is mobbed by reporters on his way out, who bombard him with questions about his father and Major Rhee. He’s both a link to the original case and a possible suspect in the recent murder, and the assumption is that he’s either working for the president or on a personal agenda.
Exhausted and battered, Tae-kyung just stands there in the middle of the media firestorm as they hurl questions at him.
Then a honk cuts through the cacophony. The crowd parts to let a car through—it’s Bo-won, who escorts Tae-kyung to the passenger’s seat and drives them off. Ever the stalwart Girl Friday, she is.
She pulls over to check on him, but his attention is fixated on the news screens announcing the upcoming impeachment vote. Then it’s his own face on the screen, captioned as a murder suspect. He exits the car and walks on, lost in his thoughts.
Secretary Shin drops by the president’s office to ask whether he will want to reconvene the press conference. He suggests waiting until the morning’s impeachment votes are in to decide, because a press conference may not be necessary. So he’s assuming the impeachment will pass, then.
Frustrated, Secretary Shin adds, “Why must you be like this?” He points out that because of this incident, the secret service is seen as the president’s personal team of con artists and Tae-kyung has been made into a murderer. President Lee replies, “You should know full well that that’s not the truth. After all, you were one of the people to make that so.”
Secretary Shin argues that everything is sixteen years in the past, and that people have lived just fine not knowing the truth. Revealing the circumstances now won’t improve the lives of the citizenry or change the economy. President Lee agrees, but adds, “Still, isn’t it the right thing to do?”
Secretary Shin disagrees—people will continue living on in the face of even worse crimes. He asks, “Why must we be the only ones to be this way? Why must we give up everything we’ve worked for all this time?”
President Lee looks Shin in the eye and replies, “Looking at you is like looking at my past self. Knowing what the right thing is, but giving up and seeking the easy way out because of cold reality. That’s why, when Han Ki-joon began this work, I excluded you.”
Secretary Shin agrees that he would have opposed it, because that’s his job. And he will continue to do his job now: “If impeachment is decided, I will have to prepare to assist the prime minister.”
Tae-kyung takes another secret meeting with the president that night. He says he’s doing fine, but the president sighs that his father had been right in not wanting to drag Tae-kyung into this, calling it a mistake to involve him now. Tae-kyung corrects him, however, stating that this was his choice.
Tae-kyung relays Major Rhee’s last request to the president, and refers to the 1998 economic talks between North and South Korea as the starting point for the Yangjinri case. That’s where Chairman Kim met with leaders of the North to plot the incident: “But that was not the end.”
He pulls out the photo Rhee gave him—and the meeting between Chairman Kim and Northern officials is photo captioned North-South Economic Cooperation Talks 2014. This can only mean that Chairman Kim is plotting something else: “A second Yangjinri Incident.”
To confirm that suspicion, we cut over to Chairman Kim taking a meeting with an American (a Falcon rep perhaps?), who refers to their quickly approaching D-Day. Chairman Kim assures him that “our president will be taken care of” before then.
Tae-kyung suspects that Major Rhee knew more about this plot, and thus finding out that information is now his priority. President Lee tells Tae-kyung to step back and let him take care of this, but Tae-kyung reiterates that this is his choice to continue—he will stop Chairman Kim, prove himself innocent of murder, and clear his father’s name.
He tells the president he’ll infiltrate Chairman Kim’s penthouse and grab info from his computer. Since the money sent to the North sixteen years ago came from Kim’s slush fund, he’s looking to find clues pointing to that. It’s a pretty ambitious plan for a lone man to tackle and the president offers another protest, but Tae-kyung’s a man on a mission.
President Lee gives Chairman Kim a call that night to ask for a meeting. That leaves his place empty, though no less heavily guarded—it’s gonna take quite a feat on Tae-kyung’s part to work his way inside.
Security guards spot something suspicious on their monitors—a men’s bathroom is open. A guard is dispatched to check it out, and one quick knockout later, Tae-kyung has his disguise. Ha. He walkie-talkies back to the control room that it was a mechanical problem, and they accept the explanation.
President Lee meets Chairman Kim in their usual spot and surprises him with his request: Please halt the investigations of both the press conference blackout and Tae-kyung as murder suspect. After all, they both know who really killed Major Rhee.
Tae-kyung tries to casually make his way past a couple of night guards, but when they stop him, he attacks swiftly. He knocks one down immediately, and when the second guard grabs him in a chokehold, he tases him. Two down.
Of course, it’s hard to ignore two downed guards on the security cameras, but Tae-kyung makes it to the control room just as the discovery is being made and catches them by surprise. He dispatches them readily and shuts them in another room, taking over the security control room.
Time for Bo-won to join in. He grants her access inside the building, referring to blueprints to direct her to the penthouse. He uses security camera vantage points to keep her out of sight of other guards, and when she’s spotted, he’s able to open gates and shut them behind her to keep them a step behind.
Chairman Kim all but throws President Lee’s requests back in his face with a laugh, saying that a deal requires both sides to gain something. And currently, the president has nothing to offer him. He gets up to leave and the president doesn’t try to stop him, since the purpose of this meeting was to stall Chairman Kim (and more to the point, his elite team of bodyguards).
Bo-won makes it inside the penthouse safely. It’s not outfitted with cameras, however, so now Tae-kyung is the blind one and must advise Bo-won based on her verbal descriptions.
She beelines for Chairman Kim’s computer terminal and turns it on, and he guides her through the process of essentially hotwiring the computer to bypass the CMOS password. That leaves only the basic Windows login to crack, which should be a simple matter for the program he supplied her with.
They wait anxiously while the program gets to cracking the password, aware of the seconds ticking by. And then Tae-kyung spots Chairman Kim’s car pulling in on the security cameras and urges her to hurry. Like she needs to be made more nervous.
Bo-won gains entry into Windows and starts copying all his files… only to find that they’re copy-protected. He grimaces in dismay and realizes that this is a futile task, and urges Bo-won to escape immediately.
Bo-won, however, can’t give up so easily—not now, not in this golden opportunity. So while he insists she leave, she keeps trying.
And then Tae-kyung looks up at the security monitor in horror. He races out of the control room and down the stairs… only to run smack into Lizard Hand and Chairman Kim himself at the entrance. He’s immediately apprehended.
But it’s not Chairman Kim Tae-kyung’s focused on. Eyes fixed elsewhere, he asks incredulously, “Why are you here?”
The camera pans over. Cha-young.
She looks guilty as all hell and Tae-kyung yells, “Why the hell are you here?!” So much for your faith in her.
March 9, 11:45 p.m. 27 hours 45 minutes after introduction of impeachment bill
I probably don’t love Three Days as much as I wanted to, but to look at this glass-half-full, the drama is doing a lot better than I feared it might in its duller moments. It’s not the greatest at laying groundwork for plot or expositing anything (gah, those clunky news broadcasts and press conferences), but whenever the story focuses on our three leads—Tae-kyung, Bo-won, or the president—it’s pretty compelling, and sometimes even gripping.
It helps that the three leads are nicely complementary characters, who work well together and fit together narratively as well as in terms of moral compass and ideology. Tae-kyung makes a pretty solid team when paired with Bo-won because they’re so different in the way they approach things that you feel them driving each other forward—as opposed to, say, Tae-kyung with Cha-young, who when put together I could picture just sitting there morosely and fatalistically, angsting in a whirl of existential crisis until they both either gave up or repressed into self-delusion. Bo-won may be hotheaded, but her clarity of thought and momentum are just what he needs when he’s lost in a sea of self-doubt.
But it’s really the president and Tae-kyung whose partnership grab me, because I see them not as opposites but different points on the same spectrum. President Lee is the cautionary tale—what happens when you allow yourself to ignore your moral code—while Tae-kyung is only now opening his eyes to a world beyond his black and white rules. As the dedicated secret service agent his sense of integrity was never challenged, since all he had to do was take a bullet in the line of duty—and he’d do it with a smile on his face and sense of deep satisfaction. I loved that the show thrust him into the throes of confusion and wouldn’t mind if it actually confused him more because I’d find that trajectory deeply interesting, but I do also suppose I enjoy rooting for him as our hero so I can satisfy myself watching him going after the bad guys.
I’ll admit that the mechanics of the Evil Plot are never going to be the thing that captures my interest the most about this show (or any show, really), but I appreciate the direction we’re heading into with the hint of a second incident, of another Yangjinri in the works. I thought the first Yangjinri incident worked just fine to bring us where we are now, but once the possibility of a new conspiracy was raised, I realized how much better that is—it gives our conflict a jolt of immediacy that is very welcome.
It’s one thing to set the past to rights, but when given the choice between grappling with an age-old, long-buried injustice and one that’s going to be unfolding in the here and now, well, there’s no contest. Bring on the new mayhem.