Rescue Me: Episode 8
The boys finally reunite after three years apart, but the urgency of Sang-mi’s situation doesn’t allow them much time to rejoice. Every passing moment seems to bring her even further out of their reach and deeper into the sinister clutches of Guseonwon, and it’s going to take some teamwork on their part to outsmart a nefarious cult intent on keeping Sang-mi all to themselves.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
We rewind a bit to find Sang-hwan and Dong-chul after their big fight. Still lying on the ground all bloodied and bruised, Sang-hwan confesses to Dong-chul that he saw Sang-mi, and the mention of her name stops Dong-chul in his tracks.
“I think she’s in big trouble,” Sang-hwan adds. “I ran into her after three years, and she asked me to rescue her. She asked me, not anyone else… I know that I hurt you both.” At this, Dong-chul grabs Sang-hwan by the collar and lifts a clenched fist as if to punch him, his face contorted with emotion.
Sang-hwan looks him straight in the eye as he continues, “This time, I won’t run away. I want to save her before it’s too late.” Dong-chul finally lowers his fist.
Dad and Sang-mi return home, but he grabs her arm before she can go to her room. “Do you know how startled I was earlier?” Dad exclaims, his face a mask of concern. Sang-mi’s eyes light up with a cautious hope, which disappears as soon as he asks how she dared to touch Father Baek.
“What about me?” she asks. “Do you even care about the fact that I got hurt too?” Dad fumbles for an excuse, but Sang-mi throws his beliefs in his face when she reminds him that Father Baek is supposed to be a savior who can touch fire without getting hurt and heal the sick. “So what’s the problem? He only shed a drop of blood. What’s the big deal about that?” Sang-mi adds.
Sang-mi warns Dad that the only reason she’s been able to endure everything was because she had memories of him as a loving parent, but now she’s scared that those memories will disappear. “Please,” she whispers, “for my sake, stop pushing me into something strange, okay?” Dad takes her hands and tells her that he’s doing this out of love for her; he would do anything if she could be saved by becoming the Spiritual Mother.
Sang-hwan visits his mom in the hospital and muses that she must be bored listening to the same recording every day, in which he tells her about his life. So he adds something new to the recording: “Mom, there is a girl I used to like. She moved here from Seoul when we were in high school. I fell in love with her at first sight, but… when she asked me to help her, do you know what I did?”
He puts the device down as he confesses, more to his mom now than to the recording, “I ran away. I don’t know what she’s doing now or why she asked me to save her. I don’t know that, but I can’t stop worrying about her.”
Dong-chul’s gangster friend Joon-gu rides his motorcycle to the car repair shop where Man-hee’s brother works to ask for a job. Man-hee’s brother speaks to Joon-gu with deference, and the two men talk pleasantly until Man-hee comes outside.
Joon-gu affectionately greets Man-hee, who asks if Joon-gu goes to church, based on the cross tattoo on his shoulder. Joon-gu says he doesn’t, adding that he heard this from a pastor while in jail: “Only those who have never sinned can hurl stones at me. Let’s say that someone who has sinned threw a stone at me. Then I’ll teach that person a lesson regardless of who he is.”
Insistent upon working even with the low wages promised, Joon-gu asks for a proper set of work clothes, ready to get started.
While Joon-gu and Man-hee’s brother get to work on a car engine, three vans suddenly pull up, and gangsters armed with wooden clubs and aluminum bats spill out. Joon-gu knows the gangsters are there for him, so he tells Man-hee’s brother to go back inside while he takes a casual seat and chastises the gangsters for having to bring in extra thugs just to kill him.
The gangster army rushes forward, and Joon-gu deftly defends himself while wielding only a wrench and his wits. He’s almost unnaturally fast and creative with his dispatching methods as he brings the hood of the car down on one gangster repeatedly, before escaping into the car for a brief respite.
The gangsters are unrelenting, and as Man-hee’s brother calls Officer Woo for backup, Joon-gu continues to use every weapon at his disposal—even a compressed air hose—to incapacitate some of his opponents and even out the numbers.
By the end of the frenetic fight, Joon-gu’s out of breath but still standing as he addresses the shaken gangster leader. The leader makes a run for it with Joon-gu in pursuit, and Detective Lee arrives just then to call for backup.
Joon-gu follows the gangster leader into an empty church, and as Detective Lee peeks in from the church door, Joon-gu asks the gangster if Lee Jin-suk (the gangster boss from the Arabian Club) sent him. Detective Lee recognizes the name, since Han Yong-min’s campaign manager had identified Jin-suk as someone who was constantly interfering with Yong-min’s gubernatorial ambitions. (And therefore hinted that Lee needed to get Jin-suk out of the picture.)
In the church, Joon-gu chases the leader all the way up to the altar, where the leader falls to his knees to beg for his forgiveness. Joon-gu just smashes him over the head with one of the altar candles before looking up at a figure of Jesus on the cross: “I heard that you’re hung up there to pay for the sins of others, not for what you did. Stop being so stupid and come down already.”
As soon as Joon-gu exits the church, Detective Lee ambushes him and leads him in handcuffs to his car. Officers Woo and Choi arrive to stop him and take Joon-gu into their custody, but Woo has a strange reaction upon seeing Joon-gu—he clearly recognizes him, though he claims to Detective Lee that he was recently released from jail and is on their watch list. Hearing this, Detective Lee smiles as he tells Joon-gu (who can’t hear him from inside the car): “You should become my dog. Bark, you jerk. Bark all you want.”
Yong-min practices his swing while his campaign manager relays messages from people who want to meet with him, which includes Detective Lee. She pauses before telling him that he left his watch behind yesterday (insinuating that they spent the night together), and he addresses her familiarly by her first name, Ji-hee, as he explains the significance behind the watch, which his father gave him with the instruction: “You must become successful.”
His campaign manager smiles as she puts the watch back on his wrist, and Sang-hwan comes outside just in time to see his father stroking his campaign manager’s face.
Sang-hwan gives curt responses to the campaign manager’s attempts to flatter him and give him advice, asking if she thinks she’s his mom now. Yong-min bristles at his son’s rude behavior, and even the campaign manager’s smile falters when Sang-hwan warns her not to touch his mom again with her “dirty” hands.
With the police station full of the gangsters Joon-gu beat up, Detective Lee decides to focus solely on Joon-gu, who sits casually in the interrogation room. One of his subordinates tells the detective that Joon-gu acted in self-defense, and that immediately upon his release from prison, Joon-gu had a big fight with Jin-suk at his club, which Jin-suk lost badly.
When Detective Lee asks what caused the bad blood between Joon-gu and Jin-suk, the subordinate explains that Jin-suk was charged for attempted murder nine years ago, but Joon-gu took the fall and went to prison for him instead. The subordinate guesses that Jin-suk abandoned and betrayed Joon-gu, even after all he did.
After sending his subordinate out, Detective Lee turns off the security camera recording in the interrogation room before offering to help Joon-gu take down Jin-suk. He explains that Jin-suk won’t go down with just muscle because he has someone even more powerful behind him, and he asks Joon-gu who he thinks the real boss of Muji County is. “Choose who you’ll work for wisely so both of us can survive,” Detective Lee says as he unlocks Joon-gu’s handcuffs.
Meanwhile, the boys are busy trying to convince one of their jjajangmyun delivery friends to lend them his delivery minivan, confirming the deliveryman’s half-joking suspicion that they need it for kidnapping. But Sang-hwan clarifies: “We’re not the kidnappers. We’re trying to save someone who has been kidnapped.”
The deliveryman reluctantly agrees, and in exchange, the boys offer him one of their motorcycles so that he can continue to make his deliveries.
Sang-mi slowly walks into her mother’s room, but runs out when she realizes that her mother isn’t there. She finds out that her mother went to pray from a young woman and moves to leave, but her demeanor changes when the young woman asks her about her becoming the Spiritual Mother. After asking if the woman knows what that title means and getting a brainwashed answer, Sang-mi warns the woman to leave Guseonwon before her body and soul both die.
Sang-mi hurries to the basement entrance, hearing muffled screams like she heard when she first wandered in. After flashing back to the uncomfortable memory of Disciple Jo leering at her in this very hallway, she summons the courage to yank open the door and walk down the hall. Her eyes widen with panic when she realizes that each of the rooms branching off from the hallway contain a frenzied follower praying madly — the origins of the sounds of distress.
She approaches the room at the end of the hall labeled “Grapevine Room,” but Disciple Jo walks out before she can open it. Horrified, she discovers her mother inside. She threatens to kill Disciple Jo if he lays a finger on her mother.
Disciple Jo doesn’t take this threat with any seriousness as he tells Sang-mi that no one’s been able to give him the glare she’s giving him now. “Do you know why?” he asks, moving close. “Because I killed them first. Do you think I’m lying right now? Do you?”
Mom pipes up from the room to tell Sang-mi about how Disciple Jo told her all about his soccer game with Sang-jin earlier today, a lie which Disciple Jo is happy to keep up. But then he turns to Sang-jin suddenly and slams her against a wall, his hands in her hair. Leaning in close, he tells her that her hair is just as soft as it was three years ago, but his warning is clear when he places his hand around her throat for just a moment. Sang-mi slides down the wall and onto the floor, trembling with fear.
Once Disciple Jo is gone, a shaken Sang-mi crawls into her mother’s room and pleads with her to leave Guseonwon, claiming that Sang-jin also wants his mother to leave. Her mother agrees after Sang-mi confirms that Sang-jin really did say that, and though Sang-mi cries at her deception, she has no choice.
Elsewhere in the compound, Disciple Kang prays to New Heaven’s God, and as she rocks back and forth, we see a large burn scar on her back. On the altar is a family photo (her daughter?), which she holds tight as she cries, begging for salvation.
Meanwhile, the boys stake out Sang-mi’s house in the delivery minivan and watch as the Guseonwon van arrives to pick her up for the morning service. They carefully follow the van all the way to the closed Guseonwon gates, but Sang-hwan is determined to find another way in.
Inside, Father Baek gives another manic sermon to his equally passionate followers. Though he’s just making sounds and writing gibberish on a whiteboard, his followers seem to interpret that he’s speaking in tongues, since he then translates what he’s written into proverbs that New Heaven’s God is presumably telling him.
He takes the marker and begins to write on the foreheads, cheeks, and even backs of his followers in the same gibberish, and when Sang-mi can’t take anymore, she finally stands. Her father is quick to pull her back down though, instructing her to pray for a fix to her bad attitude.
The boys sneak onto the property and watch the followers leave the church after the service, and after seeing the congregants’ fervent reaction to Father Baek’s blessing, Jung-hoon notes simply, “It’s obviously a cult.”
Jung-hoon starts a live broadcast using his phone and records Father Baek watching his followers gardening, since they figure that the man in all-white is the cult leader. (Man-hee: “He totally looks like a con artist.”) But just then, Jung-hoon’s phone suddenly rings, catching Father Baek’s attention.
Father Baek turns to ask Sang-mi about how her hand is healing, insisting that he only cares about Sang-mi receiving salvation. When he reaches a hand out to touch her shoulder, Sang-mi seems to submit after a moment of hesitation, which Father Baek praises her for.
But the second he turns around, she spits that he’s a fake pastor. “I’m not going to give up no matter how much you threaten me,” she says, her voice hard. “I’m going to reveal how dirty and disgusting this place is to the world.” Father Baek’s smile doesn’t fade as he promises that he won’t give up on her either.
The boys return to their minivan to find Father Baek approaching them. Though Jung-hoon and Man-hee are eager to flee, Sang-hwan steps out of the van to face Father Baek, flat-out asking him if he’s the leader of “this cult.” Father Baek claims that he’s just a pastor, but Sang-hwan doesn’t let up on his line of questioning: “What is your purpose?”
When Father Baek claims that he’s going to paradise with everyone seeking salvation, Sang-hwan cuts through the wording and asks, “So you’re saying that you’re going to go all the way, right?” Father Baek sighs as he tells Sang-hwan that he only sees what he wishes to see, before he orders the three of them to return to their world.
Again, Sang-hwan rejects his authority and says, “If you’re going to go all the way, so will we. Do you understand?” Dropping the fake benevolence now, Father Baek steps toward Sang-hwan as he warns that should he decide to go that far, he’ll find himself in the valley of death.
We return to the congregants as they eat lunch inside the cafeteria. Sang-mi tries to feed Jeong-gu’s grandmother, who opts instead to drink the “living water.” When the grandmother asks Sang-mi to help her onto the boat of salvation to meet Jeong-gu (now that Sang-mi is to become the Spiritual Mother), Sang-mi reveals that Jeong-gu didn’t die in an accident and earnestly urges the grandmother to go to the police to ask for a reinvestigation into her grandson’s death.
Incensed, the grandmother screams at Sang-mi, repeating, “Jeong-gu is in paradise! He’s in paradise!” Sang-mi begs her to let go of her hand and frantically looks around for help. When she makes eye contact with Disciple Kang, the latter sees her daughter in Sang-mi’s place, crying out for her help.
Shaken, Disciple Kang drops her tray with a clang and rushes over to wrestle the grandmother away from Sang-mi. The grandmother comes to her senses with a whimper and begs the disciple for forgiveness.
Meanwhile, Disciple Jo gleefully counts contributions from congregants until Dad’s old cattle farmer boss walks in looking for Father Baek. He hands Disciple Jo a special offering he earned from selling his cows to give to Father Baek. “If you keep up your faith,” Disciple Jo purrs, “you’ll definitely get a first class seat [on the Boat of Salvation].”
Father Baek thanks Disciple Jo for his hard work, and before he leaves, Disciple Jo asks Father Baek why Sang-mi was chosen to be the Spiritual Mother. Father Baek reveals that Sang-mi is the “pure scapegoat” who will allow all of them to receive salvation, and while Disciple Jo nods along, he notes that Father Baek has always been “peculiar” in his tastes.
Dong-chul takes a break from his part-time job when he sees Sang-mi in the Guseonwon van. Remembering Sang-hwan’s words about her needing help, he sems ready to pursue the van, but he gets waylaid by multiple delivery requests instead.
The boys decide to go to Sang-mi’s house that night, allowing Sang-hwan to eavesdrop as Dad brings Sang-mi to her room. She asks if her father really doesn’t understand what they’re trying to do to her, accusing him of selling her off.
But Dad doesn’t listen to her pleas, and after he leaves, Sang-hwan carefully raps on Sang-mi’s window. When she turns to him in shock, he puts a finger to his lips to warn her to keep quiet, and to be safe, he communicates his questions by typing them on his phone and showing them to her through the window. “You know me, right?” is his first message, and Sang-mi responds by writing his name on her palm and pressing it to the window.
He asks next if she’s locked up against her will, and when Sang-mi nods, his next question is: “Did you mean it when you asked me to rescue you?” Fighting tears, Sang-mi nods again. The next message Sang-hwan shows her has her crying and nodding along, her relief apparent: “Just wait. I’ll come and rescue you.”
Dong-chul calls Sang-hwan, and they meet up in the parking lot below the Arabian Club. “Is she really in trouble?” Dong-chul asks, his expression solemn. Sang-hwan tells Dong-chul what he knows and promises that he won’t run away this time when Dong-chul asks if he means it.
The other two boys ride up and greet Dong-chul happily. While Jung-hoon tries to conceal his emotions with light banter, Man-hee gives Dong-chul a tearful bear hug and sincerely welcomes him back, as Dong-chul does his best to hold his emotions in.
The boys discuss possible gameplans for Sang-mi’s rescue over drinks until Dong-chul’s colleague berates him for ignoring his work. Dong-chul agrees to meet the boys at dawn for the rescue, and after he runs back to work, his coworker warns Sang-hwan not to mess up Dong-chul’s life again.
Meanwhile, Yong-min joins a dinner with a senator and a few other powerful figures. He holds his own when veiled barbs are thrown his way, giving back just as much as he gets, but his smile turns into a grimace when the ex-governor joins them as well, though he pastes on a smile to greet him.
After work, Dong-chul and his coworker, Dae-shik, change in the locker room, and Dae-shik cautions him against doing anything stupid. “You may have been friends in school, but you can’t rely on them now,” he warns Dong-chul. Dong-chul looks at polaroid photos of his grandmother and the boys taped to the inside of the locker, and we see that Sang-hwan also has the same photo of the boys in his wallet.
The boys wait outside Sang-mi’s house the next morning. The Guseonwon van arrives to pick up Sang-mi and Dad, but Sang-mi, remembering Sang-hwan’s message to try and stay home at all cost, tries to avoid getting into the van with the excuse that she’s sick. It doesn’t work, since Disciple Kang says that being at Guseonwon is just the right cure, so Sang-mi has no choice but to get into the van.
Since Dong-chul is nowhere to be found, Sang-hwan decides that they can’t afford to wait any longer and decides to drive after the van before they lose it.
During the ride, Sang-mi finds out that she’s being moved back into Guseonwon, and that the congregants will go and pack her things for her (so that she won’t have a chance to go back). Sang-mi’s stricken, since they’re cutting off her last avenue for escape, and Disciple Kang mentions that once she arrives at Guseonwon, she’ll begin her training to become the Spiritual Mother.
Dong-chul runs up to the house in time to see Sang-mi’s belongings being packed up. He calls Sang-hwan and warns him that the cult must have caught onto their plan — they need to rescue her now, or never.
Sang-hwan speeds up and comes to a stop right in front of the Guseonwon van, blocking them from going any further. The boys get out of the minivan and get ready to face off against Disciple Jo and Wan-duk, who emerge from the van ready to fight.
Sang-hwan looks straight at Sang-mi through the car window and mouths, “I’ll rescue you.” Sang-mi gives a nod back, as a petrified Disciple Kang throws her arm across Sang-mi protectively.
First of all, Sang-mi has got to be the daughter of the year. She refuses to turn her back on her family regardless of how much they hurt her, and it’s clear that she’s willing to do anything to ensure her mother’s safety. I wonder if this superhuman resolve to save her family is rooted in her guilt at being unable to save her brother. After having lost Jeong-gu as well, Sang-mi might never be able to forgive herself if anything happened to her mother.
Unlike his saint of a daughter, Sang-mi’s dad has proven to be the worst father of the year in almost every aspect. He’s so fixated on the idea of Sang-mi becoming the Spiritual Mother and being “saved” that he doesn’t realize his actions are killing Sang-mi on the inside. While everyone considers Sang-mi’s mother to be the mentally unstable one, I think Dad is even more far gone. His behavior towards Sang-mi is disgusting, and I constantly find myself screaming at her to just give up on him. He’s stopped treating Sang-mi like a daughter a long time ago, yet he still expects a twisted form of filial piety from her. He refuses to acknowledge her own rights and has no problem forcing her to get married to an old man.
The biggest difference between Dad and Mom is that the former would sacrifice his family in a heartbeat if Father Baek ordered it, whereas the latter is still driven by love for her children. Given proper medical treatment, I think Mom has a shot at recovery and a happy life. As for Dad? I think it would break his spirit to have his eyes opened and realize what he’s done to his family.
I also want to comment on the parallel between Dad and Yong-min. While the show hasn’t shown us too much of Yong-min’s relationship with his campaign manager, it’s clear that lines are being crossed. Both dads have failed spectacularly in the family department, neglecting their wives and children in favor of their mistresses (in Dad’s case, Guseonwon would be the mistress). Both Guseonwon and the campaign manager have a corrupting influence on the dads, motivating them to go down paths that they would never have chosen on their own.
I don’t usually watch thrillers, so I can’t say too much about the format and writing; however, I will say that I think the actors are doing a fantastic job. Much of the creepiness is built up by the actors in a way that no amount of background music and lighting filters could achieve, so kudos to them!
We’re only on Episode 8, so I doubt that the boys will be able to rescue Sang-mi anytime soon. Regardless, I do hope that we’ll be able to see more concrete progress, because watching Sang-mi being trapped and helpless can be frustrating, so thank goodness for the boys’ adorable bromance!
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