Vagabond: Episode 7
The NIS finally realizes that there’s only one person who can tell them exactly what happened during the B357 crash, so they head back to Morocco to find him. He’s not making it easy, and unfortunately, the only person on the team who’s willing to bend the rules and find him is the one person they refuse to listen to. Our hero isn’t so stupid, though, and he knows that if he’s going to solve this mystery and get justice for his nephew, he’s going to have to convince her to work with him.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
As the 49-day memorial for the victims of the crash becomes a protest by the survivors begging President Jung to keep his promise to find out what really caused the crash, MP (of the National Defense Ministry) holds a press conference regarding the F-X Plan’s decision to recommend purchasing their new fighter planes from John & Mark.
From his hospital bed, Tae-woong watches Kwang-deok on the news saying that the victims’ families don’t want compensation, they just want to know why their loves ones died. President Jung and Prime Minister Hong watch the press conference, then attend a meeting of his closest advisers and representatives from the media.
President Jung says he feels like he’s being asked if he loves his mother or his father more, as he tries to decide whether to buy the less expensive planes from Dynamic, who built the B357 plane, or listen to the people and buy the much more costly John & Mark planes. Supporters of both sides are protesting, so Prime Minister Hong suggests that President Jung make a decision quickly before things get worse.
Over lunch. Prime Minister Hong is sure that the public will support their choice of John & Mark now, but he says that if they don’t, they can always throw MP under the bus. In the hall, Secretary Yoon listens to their conversation and rolls his eyes as he eats his humble apple.
After the memorial, Kwang-deok stops the car at a light and Dal-geon thinks he sees Reporter Jo (who he thought was dead). Dal-geon runs through traffic, but he loses sight of the man. A hand clamps down on his shoulder, and he turns to see Chief Park.
They go to Chief Park’s office at Dynamic, and Chief Park says that he’s inclined to believe Dal-geon’s story simply because it comes from him. He offers to look into Reporter Jo, instead of assuming it’s nothing and making the same mistake they made in Morocco.
Dal-geon goes for drinks with Kwang-deok, who says that trauma might have made Dal-geon think he saw Reporter Jo. He wonders tearfully if time really does heal all wounds, but then he cries harder, feeling guilty for thinking about moving on when his wife died so tragically. Dal-geon doesn’t comment, but he roughly wipes away his own tears.
Hwa-sook notices Hae-ri fiddling with her phone and tells her to just call Tae-woong if she wants to talk to him so badly. But Hae-ri’s annoyance is because Dal-geon hasn’t called her since the night she passed out drunk at his place, and she’s worried she did something wrong.
Dal-geon had made a nice breakfast the following morning and insisted that Hae-ri stay and eat. He’d grumbled that she had eye boogers, so Hae-ri had wiped her eyes and asked if they were clear. Dal-geon had been flustered by the direct eye contact, making Hae-ri feel that she must have done something embarrassing the night before.
The Unkillables are camped out in the woods, and one of them tells Do-su’s second that he doesn’t trust Chief Min to make them real NIS agents. Second gets angry and threatens to kill any of them who speak so ungratefully about the man who saved them after Chief Kang abandoned them.
He heads to a storage container where they have Oh Sang-mi locked up. He orders her to tell him where her husband, co-pilot Kim Woo-gi is, but she sticks to her story that she doesn’t know. He storms out and gets a red-hot poker from the fire, then goes back and teaches Sang-mi a lesson.
Hae-ri anonymously receives photos of Jessica looking very tight with with the F-X Plan members. She takes them to Chief Kang, who orders an arrest warrant issued for Jessica, but his request is denied.
In a meeting with the NIS directors, Chief Kang is blamed for Oh Sang-mi’s capture and the fact that they haven’t found Kim Woo-gi. It’s suggested that Chief Kang be taken off the case, but Director General Ahn refuses. He instructs Chief Choi and Chief Park to find Chief Min and Oh Sang-mi, respectively, giving them a week to locate their targets or they’re fired.
Chief Choi just happens to be Chief Min’s mole — he calls Chief Min and tells him that he’s been ordered to catch him. Chief Min just tells him to hang in there until the tables turn.
Jessica is angry that Chief Min has made such a mess, since it’s all over for John & Mark if Kim Woo-gi is found. Lawyer Han wants to ask Shadow for help (wait, I thought Chief Min was Shadow?).
Chief Kang tells Director General Ahn that there’s a second mole in the NIS. Director General Ahn gives him permission to set up an office for his task force outside the main building, and to work in secret from now on.
Later, Hae-ri drives Tae-woong to the outside task force location, and when they get inside, Director General Ahn asks why Tae-woong is on crutches. Tae-woong hands them to Hae-ri saying that he’s fine. As soon as Director General Ahn leaves, Tae-woong wilts, but he refuses to take the crutches back. Chief Kang gives Tae-woong a briefcase full of vials of strong painkillers, knowing that he’s nowhere near healed and in a lot of pain.
When Kim Woo-gi eventually turns on his phone, the task force swings into action. They locate him in a slum district in Morocco, but they can’t pinpoint his exact coordinates because it’s a technologically depressed area. The only way to find him is to send someone there in person with their locating equipment and wait for him to turn on his phone.
Chief Kang okays the plan, but Tae-woong objects to having Hae-ri on his team despite her familiarity with Morocco. Chief Kang overrides him and HAHA, Tae-woong’s face.
Hwa-sook is worried to send Hae-ri back to Morocco and reminds her that her success there was due in large part to Dal-geon. Hae-ri grouches that all Dal-geon did was fight, and she vows to make sure Tae-woong sees her value. HW realizes that Hae-ri hasn’t heard from Dal-geon in a while, but Hae-ri says she’s fine.
She still tries to call Dal-geon again when she’s alone. When he doesn’t answer she calls Kwang-deok, who’s with Dal-geon, and offers to get him. But Hae-ri says that she just wanted to know that Dal-geon is okay and asks Kwang-deok not to tell him she called.
PWAHAHA, Hae-ri soon shows up at the dojo where Kwang-deok and Dal-geon were sparring, and the guys walk out of the dressing room and right into her. Dal-geon takes one look at Hae-ri and flees, so Hae-ri tells Kwang-deok that she was hoping to increase her judo skills. Kwang-deok develops a sudden and convenient back sprain, leaving Dal-geon to teach Hae-ri.
He seems flustered all over again at how cute she looks in her gi, and since Hae-ri already knows the basics, they start with a more advanced move. Hae-ri grabs Dal-geon’s collar, yanks him in close, and whispers that they found Kim Woo-gi in Morocco and an arrest warrant will be issued for Jessica.
Dal-geon stares at Hae-ri, who flashes an angelic smile at very close quarters and throws him entirely off his game. He turns away, then pretends he meant to do that in order to practice a different judo move. He realizes he’s made it worse for himself when Hae-ri throws her arms around him, putting him in a headlock.
He recovers and tosses her over his head, then goes right back to being incredibly awkward. Hae-ri snaps at him to knock it off, demanding that he tell her what she did wrong that night at his place. Dal-geon just says she didn’t do anything wrong and ends the lesson, but as he watches her spar with a dummy, he remembers her drunken kiss and his eyes go all soft.
On the flight to Morocco, Hae-ri finds Dal-geon lurking in coach behind a newspaper and freaks out, worried that he’ll mess up the operation. He promises to stay out of the way and makes her promise to answer his calls, and she relents when he says that sitting home doing nothing is making him crazy.
When they land in Morocco, Tae-woong takes Hae-ri to the police station first. Hae-ri sneaks her phone from her pocket and texts Dal-geon, who’s following the NIS vehicles in a taxi. At the station, Hae-ri translates to Tae-woong that the request for police cooperation was made but hasn’t been approved yet.
After they leave, the detective calls Jessica and reassures her that they won’t be cooperating with the NIS agents. Jessica has enough connections to offer the detective a promotion to chief to ensure that the NIS doesn’t find Kim Woo-gi before her people do.
After hanging up, Jessica asks Chief Min when he’s leaving, and he gives a vague non-answer. Frustrated, Jessica tells Lawyer Han to call Shadow, but Shadow’s phone is turned off. Chief Min smirks that his people made mistakes but they’ll still deliver in the end.
Co-pilot Kim shivers in his filthy little hovel until someone brings him some groceries. It’s not the food he wants, but the drugs that are also delivered, and he pays the kid who brought his supplies after he gets a good hit and orders him to go buy bottled water.
Now that he’s calm, Co-pilot Kim gets online, where he sees two alarming headlines — that his wife has gone missing, and that the B357 crash is suspected of being a terrorist attack.
He reads the article about Oh Sang-mi and panics when he sees that her burner phone went missing. He smashes his phone to pieces, and nearby, the NIS tracking equipment loses the signal they were following. Hae-ri notices that Oh Sang-mi’s disappearance is in the news, which explains the lost signal, but not the missing police backup.
Tae-woong comes up with a new plan to divide the area into sections watched by two operatives. Since the water in this area makes non-locals sick, he guesses that Kim Woo-gi will be buying bottled water, which gives them something to ask shop owners about.
Hae-ri is the only one not given an assignment, and when she asks, Tae-woong puts her in charge of shopping and cooking for the agents (Grrrr). He says her role is critical to the success of the mission, but Hae-ri refuses to be a glorified errands girl. In front of everyone, she tells Tae-woong that he’s not giving her a chance, but he counters that overzealous, inexperienced agents like her die in the field.
She relents and goes shopping, and she realizes that she’s being followed around the store by a masked man. She points a carrot at him menacingly (to be fair, that’s a massive carrot), but it’s only Dal-geon, so Hae-ri fibs that shopping is just a cover as she looks for someone buying bottled water.
She preen when Dal-geon complains that she’s too good for this “assignment,” since she’s the one who discovered that the plane crash was a terrorist attack, and calls her the best special agent in the NIS. He asks her to work with him instead, and she grumbles that he was just buttering her up.
She turns to go, ramming her cart right into the guy that Kim Woo-gi paid to buy his water. But Dal-geon and Hae-ri are too busy bickering to notice, so the guy gets away.
While Jessica is on the phone with her detective contact in Morocco, NIS agents burst into her office led by Chief Kang, who has a search and seizure warrant. Jessica warns Chief Kang that he’s making a huge mistake, but he just says he’s going to make another one, and he arrests her without a warrant for suspicions regarding the B357 crash.
Lawyer Han tells Jessica to hang in there for forty-eight hours, because if the NIS can’t prove their accusation in that time, they can’t get an arrest warrant. After she’s taken away he makes a call to someone whose response to the news frustrates him, so he tells them to make their decision wisely because, worst case scenario, they die.
Jessica is surprised to see Edward Park in the interrogation room. He says he’s there as a witness, but he assures her that he hasn’t told the NIS that they used to sleep together. Jessica notes that Chief Park has changed and handles his business cleanly, and he retorts that she’s different too — she didn’t used to be so cruel.
Chief Park tells Jessica that he didn’t teach her to do things like crashing that plane, and she actually musters up tears as she denies having anything to do with the crash. Chief Park remembers another time when Jessica was handcuffed in Ecuador, and Jessica snarls that he’ll be handcuffed soon, too.
Of course, Chief Min and Hwa-sook are watching from behind the one-way mirror, and after four hours, Hwa-sook asks when Chief Min is going to question Jessica. He says he’s going to let her cool her heels for forty hours, then question her for four hours.
The task force has been in Morocco for six days now, but there’s still no sign of Kim Woo-gi. Hae-ri watches worriedly as Tae-woong administers Chief Kang’s painkillers to himself, but she doesn’t say anything. Meanwhile Kim Woo-gi is stuck in his tiny room and running out of water, and Tae-woong predicts that he’ll get desperate and show himself soon.
Dal-geon poses as a homeless man to keep an eye on the streets, and Hae-ri brings him food occasionally. He asks when the local police will start helping out, and he tries to convince her again to team up with him and search door-to-door. Hae-ri says that the locals won’t open their doors for them, but Dal-geon mutters that he doesn’t need them to.
That night, Dal-geon dreams of Hoon fussing at him like he always used to do. He grabs Hoon and hugs him tightly, apologizing over and over, until dream Hoon struggles out of his arms and leaves him alone again.
He calls Hae-ri, and although she doesn’t pick up the call, she hears his voice asking, “Help me, Go Hae-ri.” She figures she’s really losing it until she realizes that he’s standing on her balcony, looking exhausted and sad. He’s convinced that Hae-ri is the only one who can catch Kim Woo-gi, though he can’t explain why.
Hae-ri admits that she’s not really a special agent, and the only reason she was allowed to come on this mission was because she made a fuss. But Dal-geon says with complete sincerity that to him, she’s the bravest, most righteous and competent agent in the NIS. He tells her that the others are all wrong about her, even herself.
The next morning, Tae-woong holds a meeting, having finally figured out that the local police are purposely delaying their investigation. Hae-ri guesses that Kim Woo-gi hired someone to buy him water since they haven’t seen him, and she suggests they ask the locals, but Tae-woong cuts her off and tells her to stick to her orders.
After the meeting disperses, Se-hoon hangs back to urge Hae-ri not to get discouraged. She asks him for a schedule of their drone sweeps, ostensibly for study purposes, then she calls Dal-geon to warn him that they’re increasing their drone activity and not to get caught.
While out shopping, Hae-ri takes to the rooftops to scout the nearby buildings with infrared binoculars, guiding Dal-geon to rooms that appear to house solitary males. She gets called back to the base by the hungry team members, and she worries when Dal-geon continues his search without her help.
Unfortunately, one of the NIS drones catches Dal-geon hopping across the roofs, and his behavior is suspicious enough that Tae-woong goes after him. Hae-ri returns minutes later and freaks out when she’s shown the video, and at the same time, Dal-geon leaps from one rooftop to another until he finds himself face-to-face with a drone.
Hae-ri calls Dal-geon and says that they must have changed the drone’s patrol schedule. Dal-geon looks around for a place to hide, and he notices that one balcony nearby has a mountain of empty water bottles. He says he’s going to see if Kim Woo-gi is hiding there, and he tells Hae-ri to play dumb if he’s caught by Tae-woong.
The local cops have caught the guy who’s been bringing food, water, and drugs to Kim Woo-gi, so while Dal-geon is sneaking into the room from above, the cops are downstairs ordering the building owner to let them inside. The room appears empty so Dal-geon searches for evidence of the occupant, but his lowered guard allows Co-pilot Kim to sneak up and put a gun to his head.
Dal-geon recognizes Kim Woo-gi’s reflection in the cabinet glass. He lets his mask slip and turns to show his face, asking, “Can we speak in Korean, Kim Woo-gi?”
We continue to move along quickly in the plot, so quickly that sometimes I forget what happened in which episode. But at the same time, I appreciate that Dal-geon and Hae-ri’s relationship is evolving relatively slowly, from antagonists who barely tolerate each other, to reluctant friends, and now to partners who rely on each other. I don’t think they’re on the same page romantically, especially with Hae-ri’s lingering (but hopefully, soon-to-be-discarded) crush on Tae-woong. Dal-geon knows he’s attracted to Hae-ri, but he thinks that she doesn’t return his feelings and as a result, he doesn’t impose himself on her in that way. It’s refreshing to see that in a drama, and while I would still enjoy Vagabond without a loveline at all, if we have to have one, I’m glad it’s a slow burn without any of the usual annoying tropes (and if it makes Dal-geon smile that crinkly, dimpled smile some more, then bring on the romance).
I have to be honest – I don’t really like Tae-woong much as a character. I find him abrasive and closed-minded, sexist towards Hae-ri, and a truly terrible leader for reasons I’ll get into in a minute. But I’m starting to relax my suspicions of Tae-woong as secretly eeevil or a mole, because he really hasn’t done anything suspicious other than look foreboding. He just has a too-rigid adherence to the letter of the law and a disturbing inability to adapt to fluid situations, which is where I think he’s going to run into trouble in a job like his. On a personal level, at first I thought it was funny how exasperated Tae-woong gets by Hae-ri, and he’s not wrong that she has the best of intentions but doesn’t have the experience to know when to get out of her own way. Tae-woong’s eyerolls and exasperated expressions in response to Hae-ri are hilarious… when taken out of context. But even if his motivations behind disallowing her to put herself in danger are well-intentioned, he’s still being a giant jerk about it. The way he holds meetings without her and dismisses her input are infuriating.
I haven’t had much of an opinion on Hae-ri one way or another until now. She’s certainly earnest and dedicated to doing a good job, and she did find the proof that the plane crash was a terrorist attack, but Tae-woong is right that she’s inexperienced and overzealous. If that’s true, though, then why was she sent to Morocco as a spy in the first place? I have a feeling it was to get her out of the way, but if an agent is that dangerous to themselves, wouldn’t you send them with a partner to learn from? And Hae-ri does make mistakes, but her intelligence and enthusiasm just need tempering for her to be a great agent, and a competent supervisor would see that. So it made me furious when she was relegated to glorified cook and housekeeper to the point that she’s deliberately left out of team meetings in Morocco. A good, strong leader is defined by their ability to minimize their team’s weaknesses and use their strengths, and Tae-woong is a bad leader because instead of recognizing Hae-ri’s ability to see a situation from different angles and come up with creative solutions, he just sends her to the kitchen and keeps doing what’s not working. It’s not only dismissive, it’s sexist and ageist, and it’s going to get them all in a lot of hot water.
So it’s not surprising that Hae-ri isn’t sure what to do with Dal-geon and his unwavering faith in her abilities. All she’s ever been told at the NIS is that she’s not smart enough, not experienced enough, and only useful for shopping and cooking (and ooooh, that just makes me so furious). But Dal-geon sees what she’s capable of and he’s not worried about her weaker points, because those are his strong points. He needs her, and he’s not too proud to tell her so. He’s the brawn, and she’s the brain, and he’s absolutely right that they make a good team… Dal-geon can do all the physical work and let Hae-ri do the sleuthing. I think that Hae-ri eventually sided with him in large part because he’s the only person who’s ever believed in her, but even though it’s an emotional decision on her part, I also think it was the right decision (of course in real life this would be a HUGE no-no, but as I said last week, I’m viewing this show as pure fantasy from here on out).
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