Rugal: Episodes 5-6 Open Thread
Things just got a little more complicated for our team of vigilante fighters at Rugal. Between overlapping histories, ghastly injuries, and some freaky new artificial intelligence, Rugal is stepping up its game. Or at least, it’s adding a lot more variables into that game, so things might not be as simple as we thought.
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP
I was surprised (pleasantly so!) that Rugal picked up with the story and mission that it covered last week. What is this… plot continuity? We open up with the team analyzing the aftermath of their last mission — the one where the jazz club was blitzed by Argos, zombies, and where cutie Gwang-chul almost didn’t make it. The team’s analysis includes hilarious lines like, “This crime shows exhibitionist tendencies,” which Director Choi points right back to Argos and their internal battles.
In case you’re wondering, Gwang-chul makes it through his surgery, and like the bionic dude that he is, he bounces back in no time. But there’s more damage to the team this week, and this time it’s team leader Tae-woong’s turn. While the team is investigating the missing jazz musician, they discover Argos’s organ harvesting and body part stealing operation.
I’m not really sure what’s going on with this, but what I do know is that it’s Not Good when our team gets bolted into one of the human freezers. In order to get them out in time, Ki-bum rips off Tae-woong’s bionic arm (don’t ask how), programs it to become a bomb, and five seconds later they escape the freezer and return to Rugal HQ.
Of all of our characters, Tae-woong is shrouded in the most mystery, and this week we get some good backstory on what made him swap from Argos foot soldier to bionic Rugal warrior. There are still some breadcrumbs oh-so-intentionally left behind, but we get enough of Tae-woong to make him a little more interesting.
He and Ki-bum bond a bit, we learn that Ki-bum actually investigated Tae-woong’s noona… but as much as we get some blanks filled in, Rugal doesn’t want us to get too comfortable and keeps hinting around that maybe we shouldn’t fully trust this guy.
Ki-bum himself was pretty dull this week, but what about Ki-bum’s eyeballs!? They are the most potentially interesting development this week. We knew that his bionic eyes were akin to a database of intel, and also that they offered some sort of computerized assistance that helps him do everything from project the angle of an oncoming punch, to assess electrical currents and run facial recognition. But now, there’s a voice in Ki-bum’s head — well, more precisely, it’s a voice from Ki-bum’s eyeballs.
The AI that’s built into Ki-bum’s bionic eyes has “begun to whisper,” as Director Choi tells the team. What does that mean? Well, in the world of Rugal, it means that the AI is learning to detect Ki-bum’s brainwaves and can even read his thoughts and emotions.
At present, the AI eyes acts as a sort of guiding/instructing voice for him. But it’s also weird. Is it for him, or against him? Is it him, or is it not him? Director Choi first warns Ki-bum not to trust the AI, but later tells him to follow its direction (confusing!). Ki-bum, to his credit, realizes the power of the AI and asks Choi, “Did you give the AI eyes to me, or did you give me to the AI?” It’s a damn good question. And I kind like where this storyline could go.
But, lest I start comparing Rugal’s use of AI to the much more adept and imaginative use of it in another current drama (*ahem* A Piece of Your Mind), we’ll move on from the AI angle to talk about what our baddies were up to this week.
I’m pretty disappointed with our baddies, to be honest. Outside of moments of brutal violence and cruelty to show us what they’re capable of, they’re pretty dull. Ye-won and Duk-gu continue in their power struggle, but outside of knowing they are vying for power, there is really no context to make their battle feel very engaging.
Ye-won might hire Ki-bum (playing the mercenary) to protect herself from Duk-gu, but this doesn’t really go anywhere outside of the promise of Ki-bum gaining some valuable Argos intel. Then there’s Min-joon, who is the next victim of Duk-gu’s zombie-making brain chip. He’s as handsome as ever, but now sports guyliner to prove that he is now a Baddie.
At the end of this week’s episodes, Ki-bum and BRADLEY (Jang In-sub), one of the Rugal brainiacs, discover all the foul stuff going on at the reservoir. It’s the spot where everyone from Mina to the former Argos Chairman met their end. And now, it looks like it’s Duk-gu’s turn. He’s shot with a poisoned dart, and then shot with a bullet, so he’s gotta be dead, right?
Actually, only about 2% of the people killed to date in this show have actually stayed dead yet. Whether they are reanimated and zombified by whatever chip Duk-gu’s doctors are implanting, or whether they receive a bionic second life from Rugal — no one stays dead. Nope, can’t fool me, Rugal. I’m expecting this bloody and over-acted battle to wage on!
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