Rescue Me: Episode 11
With no adults to turn to, our young heroes must resort to cloak-and-dagger methods to try to save one of their own. While Sang-mi begins to execute her own plan within the confines of Guseonwon, her would-be saviors are taking two distinctly different methods to try and extract her, though which one will work in the end—or if it will work in time—is anyone’s guess.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
We rewind a bit to see Sang-hwan watching as Dong-chul boards the Guseonwon van for the morning service, moments before he receives a call from Ji-hee telling him that his father wants to speak with him.
In his mother’s hospital room, Sang-hwan is greeted by a shocking sight: Father Baek is there, calmly and pleasantly conversing with Sang-hwan’s father. “Say hello, this is the pastor of Guseonwon,” his father instructs, as Sang-hwan gapes in shock.
“Your son has a pure soul,” says Father Baek, as if he didn’t just call Sang-hwan an evil spirit the last time they spoke.
At first, Sang-hwan tries to reason with his father: “That man isn’t a pastor, he’s a cult leader!” But his father isn’t having any of it—he silences Sang-hwan immediately and apologizes to Father Baek for Sang-hwan’s outburst.
Sang-hwan’s father assures Sang-hwan that Father Baek said he would take good care of Sang-mi. As his father now understands it, Sang-mi is just a girl with an illness and a wounded heart.
“Don’t worry,” says his father, as Sang-hwan reels from this fresh betrayal of trust. Sang-hwan retorts that Dad did the same thing three years ago: He abandoned a person in need because helping that person (Dong-chul) wasn’t going to help him get elected.
Sang-hwan snaps, finally realizing the extent of his father’s hunger for power and influence. “When I was little, you told me that someone powerful like you should help the weak and the poor! That man locked up a girl who is young enough to be your daughter to make advances on her!” When Dad blusters an interruption, Sang-hwan just asks, “Dad, are you willing to join hands with a cult leader now? How could you stoop so low?”
Having had enough, Dad exclaims, “You brat!” as he slaps Sang-hwan sharply across the face.
When Father Baek tries to placate Sang-hwan with religious teachings, Sang-hwan just gets even angrier. He catches sight of the flower bouquet that Father Baek brought for his mother, and throws it to the ground, where it shatters.
He glares accusingly at the adults: “You’re all the same.” Finally disillusioned with his father’s empty promises, he stalks out of the room.
Sang-hwan confronts Father Baek in the cult van outside by using his bike to block his path. He threatens Father Baek, “I’m warning you. If you do so much as lay a finger on my friend, I will make you regret it.”
Father Baek claims in response that New Heaven’s God is just as attracted to Sang-mi as Sang-hwan is, adding creepily, “We care more about Sang-mi than anyone.” Sang-hwan: “The problem is, Sang-mi doesn’t like you or the New Heaven’s God you’re referring to.” Father Baek just sighs and hands Sang-hwan a pamphlet, but Sang-hwan rips it in half without even looking at it.
At Guseonwon, Dong-chul attends a service along with the other new recruits. A second grader gives a speech about her wish to become Spiritual Mother and proclaims her adoration for Father Baek, even calling him her “spiritual husband.” Dong-chul looks around in concern, but he seems to be the only one that doesn’t find this adorable.
Dad, Disciple Kang, and Sang-mi listen in on the service from outside. Dad and Disciple Kang laugh at the little girl’s speech, but Sang-mi’s mind is somewhere else. “I will save them,” she says resolutely. “I will save them all no matter what.”
Meanwhile, we see Sang-hwan walking up to the giant gates of Guseonwon.
Inside, Father Baek officially starts the service as he tells a female congregant that she is getting closer to being promoted to a disciple thanks to her donation to the church. “I believe it. Our wishes will be fulfilled!” she exclaims to the cheering crowd, as Dong-chul looks on soberly.
As Sang-hwan finds an alternate way inside the compound, Father Baek announces the proclamation ceremony for Sang-mi to become Spiritual Mother. Dressed in black, Sang-mi walks into the room to thunderous applause, unaware of Dong-chul watching her intently.
Father Baek looks into Sang-mi’s face with a smile and says, “Like pure white flowers, you will purify us from our dark and filthy sins.” With that, he places a ceremonial flower crown on Sang-mi’s head.
At the podium, he announces that he and Sang-mi will have a spiritual wedding and promises that this will purify them all of their sins. At this, the audience cheers and bursts into song again.
A dead-eyed Sang-mi walks down the aisle, much to the adoration of the congregants. Dong-chul makes a start toward her, but he’s grabbed by the arm…
Surprisingly, it’s the girl from Seoul, So-rin, but she’s clearly not who she seems to be. She cautions Dong-chul, “Stay out of it. Weren’t you locked up in the youth detention center three years ago?”
“Who are you?” Dong-chul asks.
Meanwhile, Sang-hwan creeps up the steps of the church, constantly glancing over his shoulder as he does so. He ducks into Father Baek’s office and surveys his surroundings, but he’s forced to hide at the sound of approaching footsteps.
It’s Father Baek, Disciples Jo and Kang, and Dad, who sit down for a meeting. Father Baek makes specifications for the upcoming spiritual wedding, including how they’re all to fast. They’ll only be able to eat white rice until the wedding, since he wants Sang-mi in her purest spiritual state. At this, Disciple Jo smirks mockingly.
After Disciple Kang and Dad have been dismissed, Disciple Jo shares some of his sermon suggestions with Father Baek, claiming that he’s focused on gaining as many collections as possible.
Father Baek reads his suggestion: “Since we’re welcoming Spiritual Mother, we must now get rid of all materialistic things that blind us and weigh down our hearts in order to get on the Boat of Salvation with a light heart and clean soul.” Father Baek looks displeased, but Disciple Jo hints conspiratorially before leaving that they both know how good Father Baek is at editing sentences.
Sang-hwan continues to eavesdrop as Father Baek paces in the office, now alone. He stands at the window and says to himself, “Those who conceal New Heavens God’s glory will perish in fire on the day of judgment.” When Father Baek finally leaves the office, Sang-hwan wipes his brow in relief.
Afterward, Father Baek prays on his knees in a private prayer room, which is ominously lit with candles on the wall and fitted with a large red cross. With his arms raised, he rambles about salvation and eternal life while Sang-hwan peers at him from behind a corner.
Father Baek slowly waves his hand over a row of candles and starts laughing maniacally when he isn’t burned. Sang-hwan starts recording Father Baek, who seems to have truly lost it as he proclaims to himself, “You are now the body of New Heaven’s God. No one will be able to stand against you.”
Sang-hwan walks into the now-empty service room, but he’s forced to go through yet another door to avoid discovery by Disciple Kang. He cautiously makes his way down a hallway when Mom grabs his arm and mistakes him for Sang-jin as she pleads, “Where have you been? Don’t leave me alone.”
Sang-mi walks out to get her mother, only to see Sang-hwan there with her. Surprised, she asks him why he’s in Guseonwon. (Good question.)
Sang-hwan urges her to leave with him, but Sang-mi refuses: “It’s not time yet.” Sang-hwan looks like he’s going to try to convince her again, but he has to slip away again when Disciple Kang walks down the stairs. Luckily, Mom doesn’t out Sang-hwan’s presence.
Outside, Sang-hwan scales the fence again to get out of Guseonwon. He looks back once more with a sigh, then drives away.
Dong-chul sits in the Guseonwon van, also on his way back home. This time, Disciple Jo is driving the van instead of Wan-duk, and So-rin is in the passenger seat. Suddenly, Disciple Jo says, “We’re looking for someone. Do you have any friends who often go around riding a motorcycle?” Dong-chul nervously talks around the question.
Once the van drops off Dong-chul and the other recruits, Disciple Jo invites them to come to a Guseonwon seminar tomorrow. So-rin gets out of the car as well and makes sure to grab Dong-chul’s hands as she says, “I really hope you’ll come tomorrow.”
As Disciple Jo and So-rin drive away, Dong-chul thinks back to when So-rin had stopped him from charging in to save Sang-mi. After he’d asked her who she was, she said that she was an undercover reporter collecting news about the cult.
In the present, he opens the note that she left when she grabbed his hands: “I don’t know why you came here, but do not come back to this place.”
In their friend’s room, the bumpkin biker gang reviews the video Sang-hwan took of Father Baek cackling in his private worship room. Asked why he even went to Guseonwon in the first place, Sang-hwan replies that he wanted to see the church for himself and collect evidence.
He also shares that his dad has joined hands with Father Baek. Sang-hwan apologizes for that, but Dong-chul says it’s fine as long as Sang-hwan keeps his promise not to run away this time, no matter what his dad does.
The gang huddles over a hand-drawn map of the compound to make plans. Because the press and police can’t be trusted, they have to take this video to the public directly, so Sang-hwan requests that Jung-hoon broadcast the video of Father Baek. Once Jung-hoon agrees, Dong-chul shares So-rin’s note with them and tells them that she’s an undercover reporter.
Sang-hwan realizes the depth of the situation: “These guys don’t seem like an ordinary cult. And that cult leader seems scarier than we thought he’d be.” In addition, Dong-chul warns that Disciple Jo is looking for them all over Muji.
To check if the reporter really is who she says she is, Sang-hwan says he’ll go to Muji Daily, and adds that he’ll also look into what the cult did before coming to Muji.
It turns out that Sang-mi saw So-rin stop Dong-chul from trying to help her, so now, she corners So-rin in a bathroom to confront her about it. “What’s your identity?” Sang-mi asks bluntly. So-rin attempts to deny that she is anything but a believer, but when Sang-mi presses further, closing the door, So-rin’s facade breaks down.
“Why do you think I’m pretending like I don’t know anything?” So-rin asks, her demeanor changing completely. “Because you also seemed to be observing this place, just like me,” Sang-mi replies. And, Sang-mi adds that in the four years she’s lived at Guseonwon, So-rin was the only person to ever ask her, “Why didn’t you leave?”
So-rin’s face hardens, and she sets down her cleaning basket. “You’re right,” she says. “I don’t believe this place.”
Hardly able to believe her ears, Sang-mi starts to break down in tears. So-rin says that she’s been trying to figure out how the cult works, but that she had to go undercover to collect information and get closer to the inner circle of Guseonwon.
Sang-mi pledges her help: “I’m going to destroy this place no matter what. So you should help me too.” When So-rin asks if she’s sure, Sang-mi adds that she has friends trying to help her—and now, she has So-rin too.
Just then, the bathroom door opens and So-rin falls to her knees immediately, pretending to beg Sang-mi to deliver to her prayers to Father Baek. Two women walk into the bathroom and scold So-rin for making a scene in front of Spiritual Mother, but when Sang-mi says that she’ll deliver their prayers as well, the two women only hesitate a moment before also dropping to their knees to beg Sang-mi to relay their prayers.
Meanwhile, Sang-hwan approaches Dong-chul as he’s getting on his motorcycle. Sang-hwan apologizes for making Dong-chul go into Guseonwon, but thanks him for doing it anyway.
“Do you know what I hate hearing from you?” Dong-chul asks, sighing. “I hate it when you say sorry.” It wasn’t Sang-hwan that made things turn out this way, he claims, but the adults. Likewise, Sang-hwan admits he was foolish for thinking that his dad would be able to help his mother once he became governor, like he had promised.
Dong-chul asks Sang-hwan if he remembers what he’d said to him when he got expelled, and what he said to him when he’d stopped the prisoner bus. “I said, ‘Stand tall,’” Sang-hwan remembers. Dong-chul nods at him, indicating that “Stand tall” is what he’s trying to say to him now.
Back at Guseonwon, Mom writhes in her bed and throws up on the ground. Two workers walk by and consider going in to check on her, but ultimately decide it’s not worth the trouble. Alone inside the room, Mom can only cry out for Sang-mi pitifully.
Outside, under the cover of night, Father Baek, Disciples Jo and Kang, and Dad walk toward a building in the woods. As Disciple Jo unlocks the door, they assure Dad that this experience is a great blessing and will bring him to the next level as a disciple.
Faint sounds of wailing and moaning are heard as they descend into the ominously dim basement, and Disciple Jo warns dad that this place is full of evil spirits as they enter the cell of a man who is dressed in the same clothes as the believers. They tell Dad that this man was possessed by the devil and led the believers to abandon their faith.
As the man whimpers and repeats “I’m sorry” over and over again at their feet, Disciple Jo grins with delight and kneels down with Dad to restrain the man on the ground. He lifts the man’s shirt and exposes a midsection mottled with bruises.
Father Baek holds his hand over the man’s chest and orders the devil to leave the man’s body. He tells Dad that the bruises are a manifestation of the man’s sin, and their pain is a measure of their sin. Then, he brings his hand down on the man’s sore midsection, hard, and the man screams out in pain. Disciple Kang hangs back at the door of the cell, looking vaguely uncomfortable.
Father Baek says that Dad will be in charge of “praying” for the sinners in this place from now on. The position is only given to the most spiritually awakened disciple (though this doesn’t seem to sit right with Disciple Kang), and Dad seems pleased as he begins “praying” for the man. Father Baek nods his approval, and Dad begins striking the man’s abdomen repeatedly as he commands the devil to leave his body.
Having not spoken to Dae-shik since the showdown with Joon-gu, Dong-chul finds him at his house. But when a sullen Dae-shik asks him what he wants, they’re interrupted by Dae-shik’s mom calling her son to dinner.
Dong-chul looks up at the sound of the voice and recognizes Dae-shik’s mother as the woman who had been honored at the Guseonwon service for making a donation, though she doesn’t seem to recognize him.
Dae-shik wants to know where his mom is going, and she makes up an excuse about someone wanting her help. “Did you borrow money from someone? Why are you working so much these days?” Dae-shik asks his mom, suspicious. But she denies that anything’s wrong and heads out, though he’s clearly not convinced.
After performing his “prayers,” Dad looks at his family picture on the back of his prayer book and addresses Sang-jin like a proud father, telling him of his accomplishment in gaining his new position. He makes it a point to mention that it was given to him and not Disciple Kang, and with Sang-mi about to become Spiritual Mother, he’s sure that their whole family will be able to board the Boat of Salvation.
As a crowd protests outside of Sang-hwan’s dad’s house the next day, Sang-hwan’s dad muses on the real pecking order in Muji. Everyone is just getting orders from someone else, he laughs, and the top dog in Muji is actually Father Baek (as opposed to him).
Meanwhile, Jung-hoon is busy broadcasting Sang-hwan’s video of Father Baek. As he does so, Man-hee and Sang-hwan remark on the extent of Guseonwon’s influence in Muji.
Sang-hwan says, “I can’t believe he even has the police and reporters on his side. But then again, what can’t you do with money these days?” Jung-hoon protests and says that his dad isn’t like that, but he concedes that his dad doesn’t do his job properly when Man-hee says it, ha.
Dong-chul finishes changing into his student disguise and walks back into the room, but before he leaves for another round of espionage, Sang-hwan reminds him that Guseonwon is very dangerous, especially since they act like a legitimate religious community: “You got in there with your guts, so let’s increase our chance of success by using our brains.”
Dong-chul meets up with the church members in front of Guseonwon, where Disciple Kang makes a new request: The recruits now have to turn in their cell phones before entering the church.
But Dong-chul has an extra phone—Sang-hwan’s—and he turns that one in instead of his own, since Sang-mi had told Sang-hwan that Guseonwon believers aren’t allowed to have phones. So-rin is the one to collect the cell phones, and she tells Dong-chul under her breath that Sang-mi says he shouldn’t worry: “You’ll be able to meet her soon.”
In Guseonwon’s cafeteria, Sang-mi serves food to Guseonwon workers and recruits, including Dong-chul. When Dong-chul reaches Sang-mi’s part of the food line, she surreptitiously hands him a paper slip under his tray, and Dong-chul slides the note into his pocket.
Later, hiding in a bathroom stall, he opens the note: “A reporter named Hong So-rin will help us. If you have a message for me, give it to her. I can stay strong because of people who are helping me. Thank you.”
Dong-chul texts Sang-hwan this new information. Jung-hoon finds So-rin’s name on the recruit list for Muji Daily’s City Desk, but since there’s only a name listed and no picture, Sang-hwan decides to go to Muji Daily directly and check So-rin’s identity in person.
Back at the seminar, the recruits learn about the Boat of Salvation, the symbol of Guseonwon. Disciple Kang emphasizes its importance: “To us, it’s even more important than the cross, as it symbolizes salvation.”
Meanwhile, Sang-hwan pays a visit to Muji Daily and gets an employee to reveal that So-rin hasn’t been working in the office recently. But the employee is reluctant to say any more and just tells Sang-hwan to leave his number for So-rin if he wants to talk to her.
The employee walks away, and Sang-hwan uses the opportunity to snap a picture of So-rin’s employee badge. When he sees her picture, a memory arises: So-rin was the reporter who asked him if he thought his father would win the election three years ago.
Back in the bathroom stall, Dong-chul receives the picture from Sang-hwan. He confirms that it’s the same person and tells Sang-hwan that So-rin has agreed to help Sang-mi as well.
Disciple Jo walks into the bathroom to check on Dong-chul, who quickly hides the phone behind the toilet. None the wiser, Disciple Jo just tells Dong-chul that the service is set to start soon, and he won’t want to miss it.
Disciple Kang and So-rin join Sang-mi for her Spiritual Mother training. So-rin is officially instated as Sang-mi’s new aide, and she introduces herself as if they are meeting for the first time.
From today on, Disciple Kang informs Sang-mi that she’s expected to read the Book of Salvation and begin the Prayer of Purification. Disciple Kang explains, “It’s a ritual way to cleanse yourself of any worldly filth that is left.”
With a bowl of water placed in front of Sang-mi, Disciple Kang tells her how to perform the Prayer of Purification: Sang-mi must put her hands in the Living Water, confess her sins, stir once, then ask to be forgiven.
Sang-mi begins the prayer calmly, as if she has fully bought into the ritual. But as she continues to “confess her sins,” they seem more and more like accusations against Disciple Kang and Guseonwon as each stir of the water becomes more pronounced, a hard edge creeping into Sang-mi’s voice.
“I resented and hated [Disciple Kang] who’s in front of me now. Please forgive my sin. I said that [Disciple Jo] is a murderer. Please forgive my sin. I thought that everyone here was insane. Please forgive my sin” she snarls at Disciple Kang as she splashes the water at her feet.
Later, Mom wanders the hallways again in a haze, her face haggard. She envisions Sang-jin behind her, but the specter of Sang-jin’s bully grabs her wrist instead and says jeeringly, “Don’t you know that you’ll never be able to get out of here?”
She cries out for Sang-jin to help her, but Sang-jin is intent on relaying his message: “You need to get out of here for Sang-mi to live, so please save Sang-mi.” Seeming to come to a realization, Mom starts screaming for Sang-mi.
In her prayer room, Sang-mi jumps as if she’s heard her, then paces around her room fitfully after checking that no one is outside her door.
At the same time, Mom shakes feverishly in her bed, dreaming about her most recent encounter with Sang-jin. Key events from the past few months flash through her mind, especially the medicine that she’s been fed by Disciple Kang. She startles awake with a scream, panting heavily.
Afterward, we see Sang-mi opening the door of her room cautiously before taking small steps down the hallway.
Mom staggers out of her room too and makes her way to Sang-mi, calling her name. Sang-mi breaks into a run once she goes outside, but right before they see each other, Mom is snatched away by a hidden figure.
Sang-mi reaches the spot where Mom was grabbed and finds Mom’s hairpin on the ground, but she can only look up in shock when Mom is nowhere to be found.
Finally, the threads of this show are coming together, and several disparate elements of the show make more sense now that they’re put side by side.
For example, I was frustrated that the biker gang kept relying on these figures of authority but couldn’t see that those authority figures were really just people that were only invested in upholding the system. There was no payoff for our heroes, and yet they fell for it again and again.
Now that they’ve turned away from those avenues of help, it makes sense to me that their actions were actually realistic—they were going to the police and their parents because that was the only way they knew how to resolve their problems before. But while their trust in these authority figures was being eroded away, Sang-hwan’s dad struck the final blow by teaming up with Father Baek out of his selfish desire to increase his own power.
Sang-hwan has finally seen the truth about what his father and Muji are like, and his final disillusioned walk out of that room said a lot about how his character has changed since his blindly trusting self, three years ago. On that note, I’m also pleasantly surprised by the small details that have shown up recently. The clothes of the characters in particular are a telling feature that serve the visual storytelling part of the drama well.
One striking example of the use of clothes was at the Spiritual Mother proclamation. When Sang-mi walked in wearing the black dress and Father Baek faced her wearing his customary white suit, the contrast between them is quite obvious, hair colors included. It’s no accident, really, because the writing references the color significance as well: Father Baek talks about white pureness and sinful, filthy darkness. Notably, those colors are reversed on him and Sang-mi.
Speaking of which, the scene with Sang-hwan watching Father Baek pray in this episode finally convinced me that Father Baek truly believes in his own cult religion. Even if he didn’t believe in it at the beginning, he definitely does now, and he recites his religious words and teachings even when there’s no one around. His maniacal laugh in the private worship room really upped to the creepy factor for me. At this point, the only ones inside Guseonwon that don’t actually believe in it are probably Disciple Jo and Sang-mi.
I’m still not too sure about whether or not So-rin can be trusted, even though the show made a point of checking on her credentials. Even though it’s a little counterintuitive, I’m still going to be on edge about her trustworthiness for now, because all our information about her is fairly roundabout and shifty. As a double agent, So-rin can technically play both sides. But in general, it seems that So-rin’s words are genuine, and so far it can only help that our heroes have another ally in their midst.
Sang-mi has really come into her own as a powerful force inside of Guseonwon, waiting to take it down, and the presence of her allies has enormously boosted her confidence and ability to act rationally. I’m still not sure why her goal shifted from simply getting out of Guseonwon to trying to save everyone and take down Guseonwon completely, but I’ll welcome a chance for Sang-mi to destroy the cult that has consumed her whole family.
I will say I am looking forward to how the show handles this big takedown of the cult. Even though they have five more episodes to do it, it seems like Guseonwon is still firmly rooted and established in Muji, and even with So-rin, there’s still only six people on the side of justice. After all this reconnaissance and evidence-gathering, I’m ready for some action and sweet revenge.
I also can’t wait to see the smug looks wiped off of the church leaders and politicians in this show. And our heroes can definitely make it happen, especially since they’ve all banded together and are moving forward, even if the exact details of the plans haven’t been revealed yet. Operation Guseonwon Takedown is finally a go!
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