Rescue Me: Episode 13
Father Baek’s shady history is starting to catch up to him as the boys continue their relentless investigation into Guseonwon. They’re rewarded with bits and pieces of crucial information, but their prying doesn’t go unnoticed by their watchful target—an organization that will use any and all means to maintain their power. Unfortunately, Guseonwon’s sinister reach surrounds our heroes no matter where they go, putting them in more danger than they realize.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
We rewind a bit to find Father Baek threatening Sang-mi in the sanctuary after he explains why he selected her to be his Spiritual Mother: She reminds him of Yu-ra, his previous Spiritual Mother trainee and Disciple Kang’s daughter—the one he pushed too hard, resulting in her suicide.
“Why don’t you try shouting for help,” he says menacingly as he steps closer, “because the only person here to rescue you is me.” He strokes her cheek before Sang-mi slaps it away, snarling, “Do you mean you chose me and my family because I reminded you of that girl you killed?”
At that remark, Father Baek swiftly throws her down on the ground before pinning her arms above her head. Sang-mi looks up in terror as Father Baek darkly states that Sang-mi gives him no choice but to change his approach, before he yanks up the hem of her skirt.
But before he can go further, Sang-mi frantically begs him to stop with tears streaming down her face: “I understand now that you can do whatever you want to me. I won’t run away anymore. If this is really my fate, please give me a little time to accept you.” Father Baek relents and confirms that he can trust Sang-mi before agreeing to wait until “the fruit fully ripens.”
So-rin tends to Sang-mi’s mother as she stirs awake, and she urgently cautions her not to swallow the pills that Disciple Kang gives her. Although bewildered, Mom weakly nods her head when So-rin explains that it’s for Sang-mi’s sake.
Just then, Disciple Kang enters the room with Mom’s medicine and asks Mom if she knows where she is. “Paradise,” Mom murmurs feebly, “the place where our Sang-jin is.”
Disciple Kang seems satisfied with her answer, and places the red pill on her tongue. Mom dutifully drinks the water and shows her empty mouth to Disciple Kang, but after Disciple Kang and So-rin leave, Mom glares after them and pulls the pill out from underneath her tongue.
After her encounter with Father Baek, Sang-mi leaves the sanctuary in a daze, only to be suddenly grabbed by Dong-chul. He pulls her behind a pillar with his hand over her mouth until she can confirm that it’s him, then checks her over to make sure that she’s okay.
Sang-mi denies that anything happened and starts to apologize for the trouble she’s causing the boys before Dong-chul stops her with a small smile: “It’s okay, we’ve always been like this.”
Just then, they’re spotted by Disciple Jo, who demands to know what Dong-chul is doing. Thinking quickly, Dong-chul replies that he saw Sang-mi on the way back from the restroom and was just asking her something.
He smiles innocently as Disciple Jo asks to know what exactly what he asked her. “She looked my age so I just asked her which elementary school she went to,” Dong-chul replies, as Disciple Jo stares at him with suspicion.
Sang-mi tries to walk away, but Disciple Jo stops her and orders her to go back inside, saying that she’s not allowed to go see her mother for the time being. After she leaves, he warns Dong-chul not to speak to Sang-mi carelessly again, because Sang-mi is special.
“The Spiritual Mother is going to wash away all our sins. If she speaks to an impure person while she’s receiving her forty days of training, it will ruin our salvation,” he explains, with a smile that doesn’t reach the threatening look in his eyes.
Sang-mi enters her room and leans for a moment against the door to calm herself. After a moment, she lifts her skirt to reveal her phone, which she has bound to her thigh with gauze. She lingers on her lock screen–a photo of her happy family–before listening to the recording she took of her earlier interaction with Father Baek. When she gets to the part where Father Baek threatened her with rape, she trembles and hastily turns off the recording.
Meanwhile, Disciple Jo enthusiastically teaches a class on apocalypse readiness to the new recruits, who seem to be responding well to the lessons. He asks Dong-chul to stay behind after the others leave, and mentions that he heard that Dong-chul met Father Baek.
Dong-chul confirms that he ran into him once after he got lost. “I was surprised because I thought I would lose my sight, but I didn’t,” Dong-chul confides, referring to the time Disciple Jo had warned him that he would turn blind if he saw Father Baek before he was spiritually strong.
Eyes wide, Disciple Jo is momentarily at a loss for words before he laughs that Dong-chul didn’t lose his vision because he already has a pure spirit. In fact, he promises Dong-chul that he could be the first one on the Boat of Salvation if he focuses on his training during the three weeks he’s to stay at Guseonwon.
When Dong-chul expresses his reservations about the retreat, Disciple Jo dramatically asks him whether he’s going to let his loved ones go to the fiery pits of hell–after all, their salvation depends on Dong-chul’s effort. Dong-chul agrees to participate, and Disciple Jo happily informs him that the training starts tomorrow.
As Disciple Kang and So-rin walk back from the sanitarium, So-rin asks for permission to go home for the night because it’s her mother’s birthday. Disciple Kang warns her that the devil can tempt her using her family, but she gives her permission as long as she returns before the morning service.
Inside the Guseonwon van, two of the older ladies cluck with pleasure at having more young people attending services. It turns out that both of them previously went to the same church for 30 years before leaving it with Father Baek.
Dong-chul asks why they left, and one of them explains how Father Baek’s sermons are different from those of other pastors, adding that jealousy toward his superior ability caused people to spread rumors about him.
The elderly woman starts to mention accusations that Father Baek did something to a girl before the other grandmother stops her in panic. Dong-chul eases the tension by lightly commenting that jealous people always spread false rumors, but he sends So-rin a meaningful glance when the grandmothers look away.
So-rin gets dropped off and heads into the boys’ favorite hangout, unaware that Disciple Kang has tailed her in a taxi. Her reporter sunbae is waiting for her inside, and has prepared the information she requested about the red pills Guseonwon feeds to its patients. He reveals that it requires a prescription from a doctor, and daily usage can make even a sane person lose their mind.
Thoroughly spooked, he tells her to get out of Guseonwon and let the police take over the investigation, but So-rin refuses to go until she has enough evidence: “This isn’t enough. They probably bribed doctors too. Even if they got caught, it’s likely that they’ll be able to slip out.” She has a feeling that there’s more going on than just religion and politics; something that could send both Muji and the entire nation into chaos.
Dong-chul shows the boys a map of the Guseonwon compound, explaining where Sang-mi and her mother are located so that they can plan the safest entry and exit route. He lets them know of his intent to stay at the Guseonwon starting tomorrow, and the boys worry for his safety.
Dong-chul responds that it’s the only way, and Sang-hwan agrees to take care of the $2,000 mandatory offering. Once that’s settled, Jung-hoon tells them that Father Baek and his minions were probably in Daegu before they came to Muji, and Dong-chul adds that Father Baek used to be a pastor. He also mentions that Detective Lee came by to investigate Guseonwon, and the boys wonder at the detective’s sudden change of heart, since he had initially refused to help them.
We cut to a middle-aged man entering a home and calling for his father, who turns out to be Dad’s old cattle ranch boss. There’s no response from the old man, and upon finding his body, the son realizes in shock that his father has passed away. His wife immediately worries about the father’s property, and the son frantically searches for the box holding the land deeds before opening it to reveal that it’s empty. They angrily guess that he must have offered both his house and land deeds to Guseonwon.
The son storms into Guseonwon with a sharp hoe and accuses Father Baek of being a con artist. When he reveals that his father has passed away, Disciple Kang elatedly congratulates him on his father’s successful salvation. The son’s rage is replaced with bewilderment as the believers surround him to express their congratulations and envy at his father’s salvation.
Father Baek then reassures him that his father loved him more than he would love a biological son, and the son stutters, “How did you know that?” By her surprise, it seems that even his wife did not know he was adopted, but the son is unable to respond to her questions.
While still holding his gaze with the farmer’s son, Father Baek commands Disciple Jo to return the property rights: “The old man has already entered New Heaven, so the special offering is now meaningless.”
Reluctant to let go of the property, Disciple Jo asks how he can be so sure that the man has really entered New Heaven. Father Baek turns to him and solemnly questions whether Disciple Jo is doubting his connection to New Heaven’s God. His eyes convey a warning that Disciple Jo’s gaze briefly returns, but Disciple Jo visibly tamps down his disgruntlement and leads the followers in a rousing chant of, “I believe it!”
Officer Woo picks up a drunk homeless man sleeping in public and drags the reluctant man into the care of the Guseonwon. Disciple Jo insists on giving the officer a case of health tonics and reassures him that nobody will find out, and when he’s alone, Officer Woo opens the box and eagerly digs into the bottom to reveal bundles of cash. He seems taken aback by the amount and swallows his sense of fear and guilt, justifying his actions with the need to be a good father and pay for his son’s college tuition.
The next day, Detective Lee finds Sang-hwan waiting outside the police station, and when he arrives, Sang-hwan gets on his knees to request his help investigating Guseonwon. “I don’t like you. I don’t even trust you… but I need you right now. I need you to investigate Guseonwon,” Sang-hwan says. Annoyance eventually trumps his embarrassment, and Detective Lee starts to walk away when Sang-hwan suddenly asks why he met with Sang-mi—he knows that the detective is aware that something shady is going on at Guseonwon, and offers him information.
Detective Lee refuses to leave with him until Sang-hwan recites confidential details about the Kim Hae-eun case (the girl who went missing and died) and reveals that Guseonwon basic training requires a $2,000 offering. Detective Lee recalls a past interview with the victim’s family member, in which he had mentioned that she had begged for the same amount of money so that she could go to New Heaven. His curiosity piqued, Detective Lee decides to follow Sang-hwan.
Inside Guseonwon, Disciple Kang orders Sang-mi to drink a viscous green drink that she claims will remove the “poison” from her body as So-rin watches with her brow furrowed. Sang-mi maintains eye contact with Disciple Kang and as she forces the liquid down until she can’t take anymore and falls on the ground, throwing up. Unmoved, Disciple Kang rubs Sang-mi’s back and tells her that she’s throwing up all the rotten sin inside of her.
Sang-mi glares up at Disciple Kang and demands to know if this is what she wants. The older woman’s eyes widen as she has a flashback to when her daughter had said the same thing: “Is this what you want, Mom? This isn’t what you want, it’s what that man wants! Don’t be fooled, Mom.” Disciple Kang shakes off the memory and hands Sang-mi a cup of Living Water.
Detective Lee and Sang-hwan arrive in Daegu, and they seem to have warmed up to each other a little. When Detective Lee asks if he wants to be a police officer, Sang-hwan casually replies that he wants to be a prosecutor.
They meet with the current pastor and an older member of the church who knew Father Baek, and the older man reveals that Father Baek’s pastor certification was forged, but none of them realized until it was too late, because they were bewitched by his words.
Sang-hwan asks about possible sexual harassment history, and they mention that Father Baek developed a relationship with a disciple who had an alcoholic husband–Disciple Kang. The older man recalls her prettiness and bemoans her poor fortune in getting tangled up with Father Baek.
Detective Lee asks about Disciple Jo, and the older man explains that his outgoing personality enabled him to befriend everyone and gain control of the church. When the current pastor took over, he audited their finances and found that the church was severely in debt, and that Disciple Jo had even borrowed money from loan sharks.
Detective Lee hasn’t made up his mind on whether to help the boys or not, and Sang-hwan informs Detective Lee that even if he doesn’t help them, they have plans to broadcast their findings. To check the reliability of his information, Detective Lee tells Sang-hwan to tell his friend on the inside to find out the name of the believer who left the church with Father Baek.
Meanwhile, Dong-chul and some of the other believers work in the greenhouse, and one of the grandmothers who rode the van with him the previous night offers him spiritual water. Dong-chul manages to find out her name–Park Sun-nyeo–and texts it to Sang-hwan with the phone he hid in the restroom.
So-rin helps Sang-mi into bed and tells her what her sunbae told her about the red pill, assuring her that they get just need to find evidence that Guseonwon is giving the pill to other patients in order to turn the investigation over to the police. Before she leaves, Sang-mi hands her a note for her to pass on to Dong-chul.
After So-rin leaves, Sang-mi slowly sits up and pulls out her phone. Looking at the photo of her family, she addresses her mom and brother: “There’s hope now. I didn’t think anyone was going to listen to my voice, but one by one, people are starting to listen.”
Dad takes Mom for a walk in her wheelchair, and when she brings up her worry for Sang-mi, Dad reassures her that everything is going to be okay because Sang-mi is having her spiritual marriage to Father Baek soon. Her husband rejoices at their good fortune, and Mom’s wide eyes fill with horror as the realization dawns that her husband is not in his right mind.
Disciple Kang stops So-rin outside the sanctuary and makes small talk before pointedly asking what she was doing before she entered Guseonwon. Unaware that Disciple Kang suspects her, So-rin claims that she was preparing for graduate school before she found her path to salvation. A sneer flits across her expression as Disciple Kang thinks back to when she tailed So-rin and had seen So-rin’s sunbae leave in a car marked with the Muji Daily insignia.
Detective Lee and Sang-hwan walk into the community center to find out who the Guseonwon land belongs to. An employee looks into the records and tells them that it used to belong to Park Sun-nyeo until a few years ago, when she sold the land to have it renovated. The current owner is Disciple Jo, and Detective Lee’s face turns stony as he recalls their last interaction, when the disciple had subtly threatened the detective to back off on his investigation.
A neighboring female employee glances over at the mention of Disciple Jo’s name, and after Detective Lee and Sang-hwan march off, she calls Disciple Jo to let him know that people were looking into his property. It seems like she’s been bribed by Guseonwon, because she thanks him for the health tonics before promising to let him know if anything else happens.
After that call, Disciple Jo hurries out of Guseonwon and drives into the city with Wan-duk. He orders Wan-duk to find the boys no matter what before getting off the van and entering a room salon. A young woman eagerly greets him and embraces him, asking why he hasn’t visited these days. He walks down the hall and runs into a jail hoobae–the shaman Sang-mi’s dad took the family to after Sang-jin’s death–and Joon-gu. The hoobae greets Disciple Jo excitedly, and Disciple Jo affectionately asks if he’s still running his shaman con.
He then turns to Joon-gu and guesses that he’s done jail time for violence. Joon-gu takes offense at his informal speech, and the two trade barbs before the hoobae has to stop Joon-gu from physically attacking him. Disciple Jo invites him to visit Guseonwon, and darkly offers to turn him into a clean person so he can go to heaven.
The hoobae recognizes the “Guseonwon” name and thinks for a moment before he exclaims that it’s famous because of an internet broadcast. Disciple Jo freezes, and we cut to him glowering at the aforementioned broadcast. He types out a message to the broadcaster, and the next thing we know, Jung-hoon is contacted by an “informant” who wants to meet in person to give him information. Jung-hoon immediately calls the informant, who claims to be a member of the church in Daegu that Father Baek used to attend.
At the same time, Dong-chul’s nightclub friend Dae-shik listlessly walks home, only to see three gangsters march out through his gate. He stares after them and enters his house to find that the gangsters have trashed it. He discovers several golden Guseonwon offering envelopes and reads the labels in horror: “New Heaven’s God, please let Dae-shik be healthy… New Heaven’s God, please let me ride the Boat of Salvation with Dae-shik.”
He’s cleaned up the mess by the time his mother returns, and she finds him sitting on the porch drinking soju. Dae-shik languidly asks his mom to die with him, because nobody is going to hire a kid who got expelled from high school for fighting. At that comment, his mom earnestly kneels next to him and tells him that there is one place that will accept him: Guseonwon.
Dae-shik stares at his mom in horror before he yells at her for giving all their money to Guseonwon, berating her for borrowing from loan sharks to make offerings. His mom’s passionate response that money corrupts their souls only angers him further, and he accidentally knocks her to the ground.
She has trouble getting up and cries out in pain when Dae-shik worriedly touches her back. Concerned, he yanks up her shirt to reveal that her back is discolored with giant purple bruises.
Horrified, he begs to know who did this to her, and his mom finally admits that she wasn’t beaten, claiming instead that the bruises are a remnant of the “fire prayer” that she received at Guseonwon. Worse, she claims that they formed because she has so many sins, and poor Dae-shik just screams in frustration before storming out.
Following a tip, Jung-hoon walks down a dark, empty street by himself while on the phone with Man-hee, and he tells him that he’s out meeting with an informant. He agrees to rendezvous with the boys the next day and hangs up when bright headlights flash on suddenly. While Jung-hoon squints blindly into the light, Wan-duk approaches him and knocks him to the ground.
The Guseonwon van drives away with an unconscious Jung-hoon in the front seat, but one of the chicken restaurant’s deliverymen catches a glimpse of him before it leaves.
Meanwhile, Dong-chul sits in the restroom reading the note that Sang-mi wrote to him before snapping a picture and sending it to Sang-hwan. In the note, Sang-mi tells him about the suspicious red pills and the fact that she isn’t the first one that Father Baek has tried to make a Spiritual Mother.
She suspects that he’s also had sexual harassment problems in the past, and reveals that she has a recording of him. She ends with a caution for them to be careful.
Sang-hwan replies to Dong-chul’s text, informing him of Father Baek’s forged credentials and shady history with sexual harassment. He tells Dong-chul that the boys will form an escape route using the information that he’s sent them.
Dong-chul leaves the restroom in time to see Disciple Jo and Wan-duk hurrying off into the mountains, and he cautiously tails them. He sees the forbidding entrance to Guseonwon’s secret dungeon, and inside, Disciple Jo asks a bloody Jung-hoon who his friends are. Jung-hoon feigns ignorance, and Disciple Jo gags him again before leaving.
Dong-chul approaches the door, but he’s startled by Disciple Jo as he exits. He pretends that he couldn’t fall asleep and was taking a walk when he saw the two men go up the mountain. Disciple Jo warns him to stop his independent activities, and lies that Wan-duk has already gone down to the compound.
Disciple Jo is in a hurry to leave, but before Dong-chul gets too far, he hears a muffled sound. Disciple Jo feigns ignorance and guesses that it could have been a cat, but Dong-chul is clearly suspicious. We see that the source of the sound is a terrified Jung-hoon, who backs away in fear as an imposing Wan-duk enters his cell.
At the same time, Sang-hwan and Man-hee discuss the possibility that Father Baek could change the date of the spiritual marriage (since he can claim any date was given to him by New Heaven’s God), giving them less time to develop a strategy.
We also see Dae-shik standing outside the sanctuary, holding two containers of lighter fluid. Inside, Dad advises Sang-mi to rid herself of all negative emotions and wholeheartedly accept Father Baek. Expressionless, Sang-mi asks Dad if marrying Father Baek means that they would share a bed, and his expression turns stony.
As Dae-shik slowly walks up the stairs, Dad tells Sang-mi that she has nothing to worry about because it isn’t about sharing a bed; it’s about giving a salvation offering. When Sang-mi asks what happens if she refuses the offering, Dad chastises her and tells her to pray. Still expressionless, Sang-mi remarks that she needs to sacrifice her entire being: “That’s the way to end this.”
Dae-shik enters the sanctuary to punish Guseonwon for what they’ve done to his mother, and when Dad confronts him, Dae-shik grabs the older man by the throat and throws him to the ground. Sang-mi rushes to her father, who hastily rises and sprints towards Dae-shik as he finishes sloshing lighter fluid over New Heaven’s bible.
He stops Dad in his tracks by flicking on his lighter. Unbeknownst to him, a side door opens, and Dong-chul carefully peers in without any of the room’s current occupants noticing him before slowly approaching Dae-shik.
Dad orders Sang-mi to go outside, and to not worry about him because New Heaven’s God is going to protect him. Dae-shik scoffs at Dad’s faith and declares that he’ll confirm with his own eyes whether their God really does protect them.
And so, Dae-shik turns toward the bible with his lighter as Dong-chul prepares to lunge.
Continuing on from last episode, this episode continues to act as a turning point of the story. Until now, Father Baek never failed to disguise his lust for Sang-mi; however, as he grew impatient towards Sang-mi’s hostile attitude against him, he revealed his true desire for the first time.
This display of lust lowers Father Baek from the untouchable holy stature that he assigned to himself to as the “messenger of the New Heaven’s God” to the level of an ordinary person because he isn’t immune to worldly desires, and his humanization has the effect of stripping away his image of invincibility. Consequently, while Father Baek still has a menacing presence, Sang-mi has learned how to provoke and manipulate him to respond in the way that she needs. This, combined with new awareness about his dark past, reveals an Achilles heel that the protagonists can take advantage of to take him down.
This episode showed us the havoc Guseonwon wreaks on not only our protagonists’ lives, but also on the lives of other ordinary townspeople. Ironically, it also provides viewers with more hope for the malicious organization’s takedown, because Sang-mi has gained allies: a reporter working alongside her on the inside as well as a skeptical but determined detective. Guseonwon may seem to have a hold on all sectors of the town, but maintaining its grasp is becoming increasingly difficult as the boys turn to external sources for help. This has the positive effect of making the show less frustrating to watch.
It’s interesting that the two people who’ve shown willingness to help them—So-rin and Detective Lee—are both from Seoul and seem to be in Muji unwillingly. This is likely no coincidence, however, because their indifference to maintaining power in Muji makes them less susceptible to Guseonwon’s bribes and threats; the two have no interest in securing their future in Muji when they’ve found an opportunity to return to Seoul.
I’m so relieved that Mom now knows not to swallow the red pill. I was worried that we would be back to square one in terms of her progress after the last episode, but instead, it’s looking like Sang-mi is gaining back one of her parents. Mom’s look of horror when she was talking to Sang-mi’s dad makes me confident that she’s fully in possession of her mental faculties, and her show of insanity in front of Disciple Kang reassures me that nobody suspects her yet. The longer everyone believes Mom to be insane, the safer she’ll be.
Speaking of moms, Disciple Kang seems to be less affected by her flashbacks of her daughter. Although she’s frozen for a moment, she’s been shaking them off more readily. I used to think that she could help Sang-mi, but now I’m starting to think that she’ll be one of the last to let go of her faith. The moment she admits that Guseonwon is a lie, she’ll have to come to terms with the fact that she’s sacrificed her only daughter and a great deal of her life for a mere con. Perhaps she’s aware of that on some level, and this awareness feeds her desperate need to hold on to Guseonwon’s lies. I’m curious to see what the last straw will be for Disciple Kang, because it’s going to take a lot for her to truly snap out of her reverie.
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