Vagabond: Episode 3
Our grieving hero sure has managed to get himself into a whole lot of trouble, hasn’t he? He’s reckless with sorrow and anger, but if he doesn’t learn to manage his emotions, he’s going to make things a whole lot worse. The deeper our stuntman digs into his nephew’s death, the more dangerous the situation grows, and I’m worried he’s going to get himself or someone else killed before he accomplishes his goal.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
A man in a mask puts a laptop in a bathroom sink then pours acid over it. He gets a text from someone called “Samael” that says in English: You are already dead. Don’t reveal any more of yourself. Come home.
Hae-ri and Doctor Kim listen to the black box recording from Flight B357, and Hae-ri imagines herself in the cockpit while the plan is going down. There’s a loud BOOM, then nothing, denoting that the plane exploded while still in the air.
Ho-shik, Hae-ri’s embassy coworker, gets Dal-geon out of jail, and when they stop for gas, he asks Dal-geon to get him something to eat. While Dal-geon is in the gas station, a man enters and drops a large duffel bag on the counter, pulls out a gun, and starts looking for Dal-geon.
Luckily, Dal-geon sees the gunman’s reflection in the drinks case and ducks just as the man opens fire. He grabs an aerosol can and put it in the microwave, then leaps out a window as the resulting explosion engulfs the gunman in flames.
He runs for the car, but Ho-shik got out of the car when he heard the noise. Ho-shik is shot, so Dal-geon throws him in the backseat and narrowly manages to drive away.
Looking over the transcript of the call between the copilot and Scar, Hae-ri says it seems like they’re using some sort of code, particularly the numbers they’re saying. Doctor Kim counters that most of the evidence points to aircraft failure, so Hae-ri says she’ll return when she has more solid evidence.
Before she leaves, she takes a look around, and stops to inspect a timeline of the crash events. She realizes that the numbers the terrorists were saying are the precise times that the malfunctions happened, from the first sign of trouble to the explosion exactly fifteen minutes later.
She asks Doctor Kim to help her, but he says that the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) will want concrete evidence. Hae-ri reveals that she has a video clip of the terrorist that she can email to him, so Doctor Kim agrees to help her learn the truth about the crash.
Dal-geon takes Ho-shik to the nearest hospital for his gunshot wound. Once Ho-shik is with the doctors, Dal-geon calls Hae-ri, who promises to meet them at the hospital. She tells Dal-geon that he was right, and that she’s found black box evidence that the plane was attacked. As she leaves, something about the way Doctor Kim watches her gives me the heebies.
Hae-ri stops by her apartment first, where she notices that her laptop is missing. She’s grabbed from behind and a garrotte tightened around her neck. She kicks a dresser, throwing herself and her attacker backwards to the floor, but he catches her again. Hae-ri manages to grab a letter opener and stab him in the leg and get loose.
She hurries to her desk for her gun. Pointing it at her attacker, she orders him to remove his mask… and it’s the so-called janitor from the hotel. Dal-geon was right about him. Hae-ri makes him turn around and get on his knees, and she asks who sent him.
He says he doesn’t know, that he was paid to kill her and make it look like a suicide, and that he only talked to the person on the phone. Hae-ri makes him call the person who hired him, threatening to shoot him if he doesn’t comply, though when she checks, her gun is empty.
While a huge bullet is dug out of Ho-shik’s shoulder, Dal-geon waits in the hallway. He hears a phone vibrating and finds it odd that there are two phones in Ho-shik’s bag. He answers the one that’s ringing, and on the other end, Hae-ri is surprised to hear Dal-geon’s familiar voice. Oh. Oh no.
She asks why Dal-geon is answering this phone, and he tells her that it belongs to Ho-shik. Realizing what this means, Hae-ri says that person who owns the phone is working with the terrorists and tried to have her killed. She tells Dal-geon to catch him, because with Ho-shik in custody, they can solve the case.
She sets down the phone to reach for some bullets, and her attacker leaps up and runs out of the apartment. Meanwhile, Dal-geon hurries into the surgery area, but Ho-shik has guessed that he’s been made and has slipped out. Dal-geon spots Ho-shik through a window limping away from the hospital and goes after him.
In a series of flashbacks, we see that Ho-shik was actually in Hae-ri’s apartment on the night that Dal-geon asked him where she lives. He’d also watched over Dal-geon’s shoulder as he entered his cloud password, enabling him to delete Hoon’s video later.
Hae-ri calls Doctor Kim to tell him that she sent a copy of Hoon’s video to her NIS colleague. Doctor Kim hangs up and immediately calls Jessica Lee.
While fleeing from Dal-geon, Ho-shik runs directly into the path of Hae-ri’s car. Cornered, Ho-shik threatens to take a suicide pill. Dal-geon asks why he helped kill Hoon and everyone else on that plane, but Ho-shik spots a sniper on a nearby rooftop and realizes that he has minutes to live.
He sobs that this was the only way to save his wife and daughter, and he bites into the pill. As he dies, he warns Hae-ri, “Don’t do anything. Those people… are terrifying…” Dal-geon shakes Ho-shik and demands that he tell them who “those people” are, but it’s too late.
Hae-ri shoves him off of Ho-shik’s body just as a sniper bullet passes between them. They take cover behind Hae-ri’s car and she calls the police. Dal-geon sees her hands shaking as she loads her pistol and tries to take it from her, but she reminds him that she’s a special agent and he’s a civilian.
She promises not to let him die, but when she adjusts the side mirror to see the sniper, the sniper shoots it. Dal-geon grabs her gun and runs towards the building the sniper is shooting from, so Hae-ri follows him. The sniper shoots the ground near her feet and she falls, crawling the rest of the way to Dal-geon.
Dal-geon snaps at Hae-ri for putting herself in danger, noticing that her knee is bleeding badly. Hae-ri says she’s trained for this, only to yipe loudly and get them shot at when Dal-geon digs his thumb into her knee, HAHA.
Hae-ri asks if Dal-geon can get to a nearby truck in the three seconds it takes the sniper to work the bolt between shots. Dal-geon says he can make it in four seconds, and Hae-ri nods. They use a car’s side mirror to reflect the sun into the sniper’s eyes, and when he shoots the mirror, Dal-geon moves.
He takes a shot at the sniper, and when the sniper ducks, Dal-geon and Hae-ri rush to the truck. The sniper pops back up and takes aim… then hears the click of a gun being cocked behind him. A woman is aiming a pistol at his head, backed up by two masked men holding rifles.
Unaware that the sniper is gone, Dal-geon and Hae-ri climb to the rooftop. Dal-geon peeks onto the roof and gets bopped on the head by Hae-ri, who uses the reflection on her phone screen to look around the corner and sees that the sniper is gone. They can see a black vehicle racing away from the area, and inside, the sniper’s mask is removed to reveal our old buddy, Scar.
Back in Korea, the NIS office where Hae-ri’s friend, Agent GONG HWA-SOOK (Hwang Bora) works is subjected to a surprise security sweep. Everything is confiscated, including the video file where Hwa-sook is keeping the only remaining copy of Hoon’s video, and her attempt to sweet-talk her friend in security, SE-HOON, to let her keep it fails spectacularly.
Chief Min barges in, demanding to know who ordered the sweep. He finds the source of the order, Investigations Team Lead KI TAE-WOONG (Shin Sung-rok) paying his respects at a memorial tower. Tae-woong talks of his colleague, and his code name of “Blaise Pascal,” but Chief Min ignores him and asks why Tae-woong gave no notice of the security sweep like his predecessors did.
Tae-woong continues talking about his friend, who had time to escape after his operation was successful, but who died because his commander violated a small rule. He tells Chief Min that he intends to follow the rules to the letter despite how things have been handled in the past.
Hae-ri is allowed to inspect Ho-shik’s body, as Dal-geon recalls Ho-shik’s last words, that the people he’s chasing are terrifying. Afterward, Hae-ri calls Chief Min, who declines the call because he’s in a security meeting, but Hae-ri thinks he’s ignoring her and vows that he’ll regret it.
Chief Kang literally stumbles into the security meeting, either sick or hung over, and gets chastised for being late. He answers Hae-ri’s call, and she tells him that she’s uncovered evidence that Flight B357’s crash was a terrorist attack. She growls that if they can catch those responsible, it will be a satisfying middle finger to those who screwed them over.
Standing up, Chief Kang announces to the room that the crash was a terrorist attack. He puts Hae-ri on speaker and hands the phone to Director General Ahn, who’s leading the meeting, and Hae-ri does a fist-pump of victory before telling him in a very professional voice about the black box audio.
She names Kim Woo-ki, the copilot, as the terrorist’s accomplice, and tells Director General Ahn that Doctor Kim confirmed it, and that she sent the audio file to Hwa-sook. She says she’ll return to headquarters with more details, and Chief Min snaps at her not to come back, but Director General Ahn overrides him and orders her home immediately.
When she hangs up, Hae-ri tells Dal-geon that she’s heading back to Korea, but he says that he’s staying in Morocco until he catches the terrorist and the copilot. He thinks that his presence will draw them out because they want him dead, but Hae-ri points out that they tampered with airport security cameras in less than two hours, which means they have some pretty powerful backing.
That doesn’t placate Dal-geon, who yells that he wants to know who those backers are, and why they killed Hoon. Hae-ri says kindly that their lives are in danger here, so Dal-geon should trust the NIS and come home.
Chief Kang and Chief Min both volunteer to lead the investigation into the plane crash. Tae-woong recommends Chief Min, but Deputy General Ahn overrides him and assigns the case to Chief Kang. Chief Kang’s first action is to retrieve the video file that was confiscated, but at some point the file was corrupted with a virus. Tae-woong says he’s called in an expert, and Deputy General Ahn barks that he wants that file restored immediately.
Jessica Lee talks on the phone with someone who assures her that the NIS will be no problem. She asks when she gets to meet them and offers an alarmingly cheerful threat when they decline. The person hangs up, and we see that Jessica has them saved in her phone as “Shadow.”
She’s in a country club, and she perks up when the Minister of National Defense walks by. She says she’d love to golf with him sometime, but Minister Park states coolly that he doesn’t fraternize with defense contractors.
Later, Jessica gets a briefing on Minister Park’s three closest allies — Lieutenant General for the Ministry of National Defense Im Pil-gyu, president of the Institute for Defense Analysis Jang Dong-gyu, and policy adviser for the Ministry of National Defense Choi Sang-bae. All of them are deeply involved in the F-X Plan (which is making the decision on which fighter planes to purchase), and all have been accused of or found guilty of some sort of corruption.
Jessica directs her assistant to send each of the three her dossier on one of the others, but she says they’ll have to think smarter to trap Minister Park. Her plan is to set Minister Park’s three lackeys against each other by providing the dossiers, and tempting them to act against the others.
She invites the three of them to a gisaeng house, and they’re all surprised to see the other two there. The men are uncomfortable but they stay, and at Jessica’s signal, the gisaengs begin removing their clothing.
Some time later, Jessica steps outside to welcome Minister Park and escort him inside. What he finds is a shocking display of hedonism, with his allies in varied states of drunkenness and surrounded by completely naked women. Minister Park furiously breaks up the party, then starts searching the room for hidden cameras.
He finds one in a potted plant and glares at Jessica accusingly. He says he won’t fall for her threats, aware that she wants in on the F-X Plan. He stands to storm out, but Jessica stops him by mentioning the corruption, bribery, and sexual harassment his three allies have indulged in. She says that if they choose Dynamic Solutions, his allies’ wrongdoings, as well as tonight’s debauchery, will be released.
She also mentions that she knows a lot of dirty little secrets involving the U.S. Department of Defense and Korea’s Blue House. She tells Minister Park that she has a lot of “gifts” to offer him, and that the best partnerships are those where the participants know each other’s weaknesses. Minister Park complains that he doesn’t know any of hers, so Jessica sits on his lap and offers to make him her weakness. At first he resists, but soon Jessica has Minister Park right where she wants him.
Back at her apartment, Hae-ri whines that Dal-geon made them miss their plane. Ignoring her complaints, Dal-geon asks if she’ll participate in the NIS’s investigation, and she hears the mistrust in his voice and insists that she’s a very promising agent. She accuses him of having trust issues, but blames her own reluctance to trust Dal-geon on her job.
Hae-ri asks how Dal-geon came to be raising Hoon, but he just says he’ll keep watch while she sleeps. Hae-ri protests that she’s the special agent so she’ll keep lookout and protect him, but when she reaches to touch Dal-geon, he grabs her arm, twists her around, and puts her in a headlock.
He asks if this is how she plans to protect him, only to hear a click and realize that Hae-ri is holding a gun to his middle. She says, “The NIS pays me for a reason,” and he lets her go, but he still insists on keeping watch. He says he doesn’t sleep with just any girl, and Hae-ri huffs that he’s not her type anyway, but she’s awfully upset for someone who doesn’t care, hee.
They end up in a standoff to see who falls asleep first. Before long, Hae-ri snores herself awake, and realizes that Dal-geon is no longer in his chair by the window. She finds him sitting on the bathroom floor, sobbing his heart out, and she leaves him to his privacy.
The next day, Dal-geon and Hae-ri head to the airport, where Hae-ri growls at Dal-geon to stop looking around to see if they’re being watched (“This is what sunglasses are for!”). Dal-geon thinks everyone looks suspicious, and Hae-ri grumbles, “You’re the weirdest one here…”
Someone is watching the airport CCTV feed, as well as several other feeds. The one that interests them most shows Scar being dragged through an underground tunnel until he’s brought before a man in uniform. Scar says he was trying to find the copilot and take care of matters himself, but that Dal-geon got in the way.
The man tells Scar that “Samael” will take care of both Dal-geon and the copilot, and when Scar begs to be allowed to do it himself, a rag is shoved in his mouth. At a call from the watcher, the uniformed man takes out his gun and calmly disposes of Scar.
Jessica is aware of Hae-ri and Dal-geon’s involvement in the Flight B357 case. Her man says that Hae-ri will be taken care of, but he’s not sure what to do about Dal-geon, so Jessica tells him to contact someone called “Lily.”
As a man lies bleeding to death in a bathtub, LILY (Park Ah-in) answers the call and cheerfully agrees to come to Korea for the job. She makes her way back to the bathroom and, while still on the call, she finishes off the dying man.
While looking over the passenger manifest of Flight B357, Hwa-sook notices that Scar isn’t listed. Tae-woong, however, seems to notice one passenger, a Moroccan man named Harry Rossi. Deputy General Ahn (who we saw taking a suspicious-sounding phone call) says that passenger lists are rarely wrong, but Tae-woong points out that two people saw Scar on the missing video.
He tells Deputy General Ahn that it’s impossible to retrieve the video, so Deputy General Ahn tells them to drop the case and orders them to make sure nobody speaks of it again. Tae-woong argues that over two hundred people died, half of them Korean citizens.
Deputy General Ahn bellows at him to obey his orders, because if mention is made of a terrorist attack with no evidence, they’re all as good as dead. He says that the ICAO will conclude that the crash happened due to aircraft malfunction, and that if they suggest a terrorist attack, then the NIS can investigate. He warns Chief Min not to tell Hae-ri the details, but Tae-woong looks deeply troubled.
In the hall, Chief Min complains that Tae-woong cost him a promotion. He asks if Tae-woong thinks the video was destroyed on purpose, his tone implying that Tae-woong did it. But when Tae-woong asks if he’s being accused of something, Chief Min just says it doesn’t matter now, anyway.
Jessica has managed to get a copy of the video, which she prepares to delete once she sees Scar’s face, but she’s interrupted by Lily’s arrival. Lily speaks in banmal and says that “Unni” looks old, and Jessica fires back, “You haven’t changed. You’re still a bitch.”
Lily is given photos of Dal-geon, and when she learns he’s just a stuntman, she informs Jessica that she charges extra to kill good guys. Jessica forbids Lily to use guns or poison because she doesn’t want it to look like a murder, so Lily opens her case to reveal a potassium chloride cocktail, which kills in such a way that it looks like a heart attack on autopsy. Jessica scoffs that Lily can’t get close enough to inject Dal-geon, but Lily croons, “I’m Lily… the Angel of Death.”
On the plane, Dal-geon just stares at his food until Hae-ri threatens to eat it herself, then he crams it into his mouth in huge bites. He ends up in the bathroom throwing up, so Hae-ri asks the flight attendant for some medicine and a needle to prick his finger (a Korean folk remedy for upset stomach).
She says she understands that he’s blaming himself, because she felt the same way when her father died. She promises Dal-geon that the NIS will catch the terrorist thanks to him, and his expression softens from anger to sadness.
Later, Hae-ri nods off on Dal-geon’s shoulder. He starts to push her head away, but he stops himself and lets her stay there. Awww, he even gets a little hiccup-y — she’s getting to him already.
When they get to Incheon Airport, they’re spotted by a pair of suspicious-looking men. One of them deliberately crashes into Hae-ri with a luggage cart, and while Dal-geon is helping her up, the other man turns his ring to the inside of his palm and touches the back of Dal-geon’s neck. Dal-geon immediately falls unconscious with what appears to be the symptoms of a heart attack, and in the ambulance is another man poised to inject the potassium chloride into Dal-geon’s vein and kill him… but luckily, this is all just Lily’s plan.
When Dal-geon and Hae-ri actually arrive at the airport, the plan goes into motion. The man with the luggage knocks over Hae-ri, and Dal-geon leans down to help her up. The man with the ring draws close, but Dal-geon sees his reflection in Hae-ri’s sunglasses. Instead of being knocked unconscious, Dal-geon grabs the man’s ring hand and puts him in a shoulder-hold, and demands to know who he is.
This show is seriously rattling my nerves! I went into Vagabond with few expectations of the story itself, and I’m pleased that it’s got enough suspense and surprises to keep me on the edge of my seat and leave me wilting with exhaustion at the end of each episode. It’s a bit difficult to keep track of all the characters and why I should care, particularly since political talk makes my poor romance-loving brain want to shut down, but once everyone is sorted out, the plot is relatively straightforward. Jessica wants that government contract to sell her fighter planes, and she’s willing to coerce, blackmail, or even kill to get it. That’s pretty much the gist of things right now, which is easy even for me to follow.
And finally, Shin Sung-rok has entered the story! He’s one of the main reasons I was excited for Vagabond, because he’s at his best when playing serious characters. I’ve seen him in different types of roles, and while I do think he can be cute and very funny in a quirky sort of way, there’s just something so shiver-inducing about him when he’s allowed to tap into his darker side. I don’t know where Tae-woong’s loyalty lands at this early point in the story, but right now he seems almost innocently attached to the letter of the law, to a fault. I feel like he’s going to have a rude awakening as he delves into the Flight B357 case, and realizes that sometimes you have to break the law to enact justice. Regardless, Shin Sung-rok always brings something interesting and unique to his characters, so I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for Tae-woong.
I can’t even imagine the fury and anguish that Dal-geon must be feeling at the loss of his nephew. The death of any loved one is painful, but when that loved one is a young child who is your only family in the world, and their death didn’t have to happen… there’s no word for what Dal-geon is going through (or the incredible way Lee Seung-gi is portraying Dal-geon’s complicated emotions). I feel like his single-minded focus on finding and punishing those responsible for the plane crash is as much a distraction tactic from Dal-geon’s grief as it is a real desire to see the terrorists pay for their crimes, and it makes me worried for Dal-geon. For one thing, it’s not healthy, because at some point he’s going to have to face Hoon’s death and move on with his life, but also because if he doesn’t, he’s at real risk of killing himself in the process of bringing the terrorists to justice. Hopefully that’s something Hae-ri can help him with — finding a reason to keep living.
I went into this drama expecting a lot of action, and we’re definitely getting that in spades. What I wasn’t expecting was how fun it is that Dal-geon, despite being highly trained, is only trained for stunts and martial arts sparring, yet he’s so much more adept than Hae-ri, who has the actual combat skills and knowledge yet is easily bested by Dal-geon. She’s capable, as she proved by getting the drop on her attacker, but she’s very green and Dal-geon knows it. Still, I like that Hae-ri can take care of herself — mostly — because I’m so used to shows where the helpless female is pulled around by the superhumanly strong hero. Dal-geon and Hae-ri seem pretty evenly matched despite their wildly different training… she’s trained for these situations but hasn’t got the experience, while he’s got experience of a sort but not the right kind for actual dangerous situations. I like that they’re already connecting, even if it’s over loss of a loved one, and I think it was telling the way Dal-geon finally relaxed around Hae-ri when she said that she knows how he feels. They need each other, and I think they’ll make a great team once they stop fighting each other to be top dog.
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