Rugal: Episodes 7-8 Open Thread
Our fighters at Rugal continue to wage war against Argos, and this week they have to contend with things like necrosis, spontaneously combusting enemies, and multiple kidnappings. To make things just a little more wild, our hero also starts to experience some troubling memories.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
We’re at the halfway point in Rugal. That means we’ve reached the point of some crucial rising action, and that the conflicts that have been fleshed out are now bringing some interesting developments and reversals to light. Right? Well, not really.
Last week we left off with Duk-gu writhing in pain after getting shot with fatal poison and a bullet to his abdomen. It looks like he’s gonna die, and Ki-bum is fine with that, but a few things happen to prevent it. The first is zombified Min-joon who fights Ki-bum back with Terminator-level strength in a flashy, physics-defying fight scene.
The second, and far more troubling, is that our hero’s bionic eyes tell him not to leave Duk-gu for dead. “If you leave him it will be murder,” says the eyeballs. However, when Director Choi tunes into the feed from Ki-bum’s eyes and sees the scene he says, “Good job, Kang Ki-bum.” I’m not sure what the aim of Rugal is at this point. Killing bad guys? Not killing bad guys? Do they even know what their goal is?
I could say the same for the bad guys of Argos, though. I know they are all conspiring against each other, and I know Duk-gu is messing with bionically enhancing people… but wait, aren’t our good guys doing that too? It’s getting harder and harder to have a clear picture of what Argos does, what Rugal does, and what both organizations are trying to accomplish.
I’ve been disappointed by all the acting in this show so far, but I think Park Sung-woong is breaking my heart the most. This man is capable of such great emotionally-contained intensity… but here? Here he rips off his shirt screaming like a crazy person in his lab, and he’s like a comical version of the Hulk here. He gets all his abdominal tissue cut out when he’s laying awake on the table (to cut out the poison, natch), and though I should be riveted by his evil and acts of terror this week, I think I nodded off briefly.
When Rugal’s Dr Oh is captured, the team goes in to save him. But before they do, quick, a meaningless meeting in their conference room where Ki-bum asks, “Do you think this is a trap?” (LOL). However, Dr Oh never actually gets saved, and during the multiple missions that take place this week, I kind of lost sight of what our people were trying to accomplish. I know the missions include lots of cool fight scenes, one-liners, and teamwork, but without any real story or character-building behind it, it loses its punch (pun intended). What I do know is that by the end of this week’s episodes, our four fighters are back at HQ, bruised and depressed, but alive.
Why are our fighters always so upset and depressed? Why do they always need to spar with each other to feel better? Why is there this contradictory rhetoric around the importance of emotions/need to suppress them? I’m not sure. This week, the soundest logic definitely comes from Ki-bum’s inner AI. The guiding voice suggested that to deal with his emotions he should do the following: “Eat some vitamin-rich fresh fruit for your mental health, and do a headstand before bed.” It’s the most sensible bit of dialogue we’ve gotten from this show so far.
As for the Argos side of this battle, things continue to be just as befuddled. If they shoot people in cold blood on a daily basis, why don’t they just kill Duk-gu, or vice versa? A lot of attention in Argos is paid to the fact that Duk-gu is distancing himself from everyone and only keeps Min-joon at his side now. Do you mean to tell me they don’t realize he’s just a shell of his former self? I guess they haven’t noticed that Min-joon no longer speaks, makes eye contact, or even sits.
Duk-gu wants to get rid of everyone in his way, but we don’t really know why they’re in his way, or why they are even obstacles. However, he sets up a few terror events this week, with some of the Argos soldiers spontaneously combusting in the middle of a street fair. I’m not sure this plot development was worth the CGI expense.
There were a few interesting things that happened this week, though. One was Ye-won’s insistence that Duk-gu likes her, and that’s why he hasn’t had her killed yet, even though he knows she’s paying Ki-bum to take him out (kinda?). Anyway, here we have the lone thread of human chemistry that is running through this drama. It’s not great (and it’s definitely not healthy), but there’s something in the air between these two characters.
That’s more than I can say for our Rugal team, because despite the beer drinking, sparring, jokes, and ocean view heart to hearts, the Fab Four just drags on without any spark of life. Even Mina’s tragic backstory doesn’t help us relate to her any better.
The other interesting development was delivered to us right at the end of this week’s episodes. Duk-gu is busy setting yet another trap for Ki-bum, but it triggers some potentially disturbing memories for him. He’s back at the crime scene where his wife was killed and his eyes were gouged out. But, instead of being a victim, he’s standing creepily over the body of his wife.
Okay, it’s not executed very well, but it has potential. We know Ki-bum has questioned why Argos let him live then and merely took his eyes out, so… maybe there’s something there? I would actually love for Rugal to pull off a cool plot twist.
In the meantime, while we wait for that to play out, the best reveal for me this week was the first exterior shot ever of the Rugal bunker. A little drama by the name of Melting Me Softly also had a secret bunker without any exterior shots for the first half of its episodes, and it drove me equally crazy there. So, I’ve been waiting for this shot for the entire first half of Rugal. And this epic exterior did not disappoint.
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