Insider: Episodes 3-4
Our hero learns the tools of the trade, improving at breakneck speed till he’s a far cry from his previous fumbles. Still, prison isn’t a place he can survive in alone, and he’ll soon find that help sometimes comes from the most unexpected of places.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
The mysterious inmate teaches Yo-han card combinations and winning percentages, and by the end of his stint in solitary confinement, Yo-han is confident about recouping his previous losses.
He vows as such to Doo-chul, asking for one more chance to fulfill his end of the deal. Doo-chul grants it, and Yo-han wins his first game with ease. Atta boy!
Yo-han repays his accumulated debt to the gambling den gangsters, but his proffered currency of the cigarettes he won from gambling makes them sneer derisively at him. That is, until Doo-chul’s henchmen burst in to beat them up as revenge, ha. I don’t condone violence, of course, but it’s nice to know they’ve got Yo-han’s back.
Unfortunately, Yo-han still isn’t being promoted up to the big leagues yet, which means Doo-chul wants to speed up the process. One painfully twisted ankle later, Yo-han is sent to the infirmary, where he sneaks into Sun-oh’s room.
He’s caught by Sun-oh’s henchmen and dragged to face the music, where he requests Sun-oh to accept him into the first league. Intrigued, Sun-oh challenges him to a game — each player must answer questions truthfully and guess the card stuck on his forehead, or he’s getting electrocuted. Ouch.
Yo-han reads Sun-oh and guesses his card correctly, but a little bit of psychological warfare gets Sun-oh the upper hand. Sun-oh kicks Yo-han to the ground and moves to strangle him, thinking he’s won — but in a bit of quick thinking Yo-han plays dead, taking advantage of Sun-oh’s lowered guard to toss the cable into the water and electrocute them both. Omg.
After Yo-han regains consciousness, he’s told he has a VIP visitor and taken to the Shinseondong wing of the prison. It turns out to be a lavishly furnished suite, where Soo-yeon’s waiting for him.
In a series of probing questions, she reveals that she knows his target at the gambling den was Chairman Yang, and she offers her unconditional help. However, we also learn that Yo-han knows more than he lets on — he’d noticed Soo-yeon doing some secret sleuthing there, too.
In order to find out the identity of the mysterious neighbor, Yo-han takes Soo-yeon up on her offer, and she pulls some strings for him. Contrary to Yo-han’s expectations, the inmate isn’t Lee Tae-gwang, the inmate with the video evidence he’s searching for — it’s actually one of Sun-oh’s henchmen.
His name is RYU TAE-HOON (Jo Hee-bong), and he ends up saving Yo-han from a second round of intentional ankle injury. Tae-hoon can’t orchestrate a meeting with Tae-gwang, but he does have a tip to offer — if Yo-han gets a powerful sponsor to back him, he can bypass Sun-oh and move up the big leagues.
Tae-hoon links Yo-han up with the security manager, who’s the second most powerful sponsor after the prison warden. With that, Yo-han enters the second league.
Sun-oh joins his table as the dealer, and he acts like he’s still nursing a grudge — except he helps Yo-han by signaling what the other players’ hands are, using the exact signs that Tae-hoon taught him in solitary confinement. Omg, Sun-oh was behind it all along?
Yo-han’s confused as to Sun-oh’s motives for helping him, but he decides to trust him anyway. The cards are revealed, and Yo-han wins — though not without a scare, as Sun-oh lied about the last card.
Later, Sun-oh claims the whole electrocution schtick was merely a test of Yo-han’s trustworthiness. Sun-oh has lofty aspirations, since he wants to climb to the apex of the gambling scene and have prosecutors and policemen alike in his pocket. To do that, he’ll need allies, which is where Yo-han comes into play.
Yo-han’s quick to accept, and Sun-oh has him moved into the infirmary (under the pretense of having hyperthyroidism, ha). Yo-han gets his own private room, along with a housewarming gift from Sun-oh.
That turns out to be Tae-gwang, who’s lost control over his motor functions ever since someone slipped detergent into his food. Sun-oh does make casual mention of there being a USB among Tae-gwang’s belongings though, which must be where the video is.
Yo-han’s alliance with Sun-oh isn’t without consequence, and Doo-chul offers to cut yet another deal with Yo-han. Stab Sun-oh in the back (quite literally), and he’ll pay off all of Yo-han’s debt. Instead, Yo-han remains staunchly on Sun-oh’s side, and reveals that he’s aware of Doo-chul’s ulterior motive — he wants to use him to eliminate Sun-oh, then he’ll get rid of him.
How did Yo-han find out? Well, his act of kindness came full circle; Seung-hwan warned Yo-han that his life was in danger, having overheard Doo-chul’s plans to kill him. (I incorrectly assumed Seung-hwan was deaf last week — my apologies for the mistake!)
Doo-chul’s men may be armed with knives, but Sun-oh and Yo-han are no puny prey. Not only did they protect their bodies with plaster casts beforehand, but Yo-han also bribed the security manager with 90% of his earnings. Doo-chul and his men get hauled away, leaving our pair victorious and still very much alive.
Now that Yo-han’s officially on their side, Sun-oh takes him to meet their Number Two — omg, it’s Seung-hwan, and he can speak! Turns out he was caught for embezzlement, and he’s a master at scamming. Yeah, no doubt about that, his persona was so convincing!
Yo-han instructs Seung-hwan to teach Yo-han sleight of hand card tricks, but not only is Yo-han terrible at it, Seung-hwan also holds a palpable dislike for Yo-han. That’s interesting; while I initially thought Seung-hwan was moved by Yo-han’s kindness, now it seems like he was merely acting upon Sun-oh’s orders.
Last of all, Sun-oh assigns Yo-han a new job as a server; every Friday, the warden transforms his office into a gambling hall. The strings to these participants’ purses are loose, which means Yo-han can earn a sizable amount in tips — but the real money lies in the IOUs that the participants end up signing.
Soo-yeon meets with Yo-han once again, and she informs him that police detective PARK RO-SA (Kim Shi-eun) is unofficially investigating his grandmother’s death, since there’s evidence of foul play. Yo-han asks her why she’s going to such lengths to help him, and she answers that it’s to sate her twenty-year vendetta against one person: Byung-wook.
Her conviction and desperation gets through to Yo-han, and he agrees to help her with her plan. Step one: take over Seongju prison.
Soo-yeon next returns with a video for Yo-han, but it’s a grim one. The CCTV recording shows Jin-hyung carrying Yo-han’s grandmother and dumping her below a bridge to stage a suicide, and Yo-han grows distraught as he remembers Jin-hyung’s empty promises to protect his grandmother.
In a visitation with Jin-hyung, Yo-han confronts his deceitful superior, exposing his lies to his face. Finally dropping the act, Jin-hyung snarls that he’s the only one who can get Yo-han out of prison.
He stands up, intending to leave, and Yo-han gets up to follow — except a scalpel falls from his pocket. Both men clock it, and Yo-han instinctively dives to retrieve it. In an impulsive fit of rage, Yo-han drives the scalpel into Jin-hyung’s neck, and it’s only when the blood splatters onto his face that he realizes what he’s done.
Whoa, that escalated quickly. From the outset, I’ve liked the gray morality that accompanied Yo-han’s pragmatism, but I didn’t quite expect him to go dark so soon. Then again, he has been through much hardship and betrayal in too short a time; it’s no wonder that he’s already beginning to fray at the edges.
Whether it’s murder or attempted murder, it’s still a line that’s difficult to come back from once it’s been crossed. I’m interested in seeing the subsequent fallout — both in terms of Yo-han’s psyche, as well as Sun-oh’s reaction.
Speaking about Sun-oh, he’s such a fun character! I admit I found him obnoxious at first, but his mischievous antics and blithe nonchalance give him a childlike demeanor that’s almost endearing.
It also serves as a stark contrast to his razor-sharp wits and capacity for cruel brutality, which gives him an added dimension that leaves me curious to find out more. He seems to be a reliable ally to Yo-han thus far, but are his motivations really as straightforward as he claims? Surely there must be more to someone who frequently employs numerous layers of deception to achieve his goals.
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