Rugal: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
Now that we’ve met the main players in both Rugal and Argos, it’s time for some interactions (and confrontations) between them. Whether it’s fighters bonding, enemies meeting, or possible alliances forming — the battle is on.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Last week I kindly asked Rugal for some dimension. That request was denied. Instead, we’re met with a drama that is trying really hard to be flashy and exciting, when in reality, I’ve met paper dolls with more dimension. Well, at least we have sharply choreographed fight scenes, good music editing, and lots of muscles to get us (me) through.
We open up this week’s episodes with another Rugal mission. Director Choi really keeps his agents on a tight leash, and we see more and more of that this week. The man has been leading the secret battle against Argos for ages, and clearly knows what he is doing, but he is more end-goal and strategy, and doesn’t give much thought to pesky things like emotions.
There were a few important developments this week in terms of characters overlapping and fueling the vengeance between Rugal fighters and Argos overlords. CHOI YE-WON (Han Ji-wan) is now the chairwoman of Argos, after having been married for ten minutes until the previous chairman was murdered last week. Now, she’s clawing to keep her position — and of course evil Duk-gu is swarming around her throne ready to pounce.
While on a Rugal mission of smaller magnitude, our hero Ki-bum winds up saving Ye-won from a group of thugs. It’s a coincidental meeting and rescue that’s surely not so coincidental, and I hope we have some future interactions between these two. Can the drama manage to cultivate some interesting tension here? It’s a ripe spot for it, so I’m hoping.
One issue I have with these Rugal missions that we watch unfold each week is that they’re without context. I have no idea what our team of four is trying to attain, I don’t know the skirmishes they need to win to gain ground, or even what it will take to bring down Argos once and for all. In fact, the only thing these missions seem to do is show us how good our peeps are at fighting. This week, we even got some fancy one-liners for Ki-bum as he was taking out some zombie-like bad guys.
A sense of mission would be great for the plot, but what it needs most is narrative. I can see Rugal trying. This week we watch the team all but rally around Ki-bum when his enhanced eyeballs are shut down mid-battle (with Duk-gu!) by Director Choi. Nothing like taking the fight out of a fighter by turning him blind when he is confronting the man responsible for the death of his wife. While I was glad to see Ki-bum’s old police partner Mina getting riled up to defend him, it was also good to see the other team members forming a bond with him too.
Rounding out the Rugal team of four, joining Ki-bum and Mina, are HAN TAE-WOONG (Jo Dong-hyuk) of the bionic arm (and ex-Argos affiliation), and LEE GWANG-CHUL (Park Sun-ho). While I like these two guys more than Ki-bum and Mina right now, they are hopelessly predictable.
Tae-woong is the surly, icy, almost robotic guy who you know is going to risk life and limb for them all at some point. Gwang-chul is the token cutie who warms up the barracks with his smiles. As the youngest and the cutest of course he’s also the resident hacker, drone expert — and he’s kept from full-on cellular necrosis by a series of chips and a battery pack backpack that he must have at all times. Well, the drama all but told us he’s gonna lose that thing, and if it only happens once I’ll be shocked.
Outside of Gwang-chul’s likability counterbalancing the gruffness (and dare I say boringness) of the other Rugal fighters, there’s an interesting development amongst Argos this week that I wasn’t expecting. Last week we were introduced to a lot of the Argos “family” members, but it was hard to care, since there was no story around any of them at all.
This week, SEOL MIN-JOON (Kim Da-hyun) gets a little more story. We first see that he is allied to Ye-won, and that possibly they’re in cahoots to get evil Duk-gu out of the way once and for all… and maybe they’re in love too? Nope. Duk-gu reveals to Ye-won that Min-joon is actually a deep cover cop. So she bashes his head in with a nearby saxophone. I really liked this storyline for the five(ish) minutes that it lasted. I like stories about deep cover (Heartless City shoutout!) and alliances, so I’m sorry this one ended so fast.
Overall, Rugal has a few things going for it that could really work, I just hope they take advantage of these elements instead of leading us down the road of most predictable plot ever. Don’t they know that a strong storyline to backup all those flashy fight scenes would make them pack a hundred times more punch? That the showdown is only as strong as the circumstances that lead to it? Come on Rugal, I’m not giving up yet.
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