Insider: Episodes 5-6
Our hero builds up an arsenal of tricks slowly but steadily, imparted to him by the impish leader that’s taken him under his wing. There’s more lurking beneath the latter’s devil-may-care attitude, though, and our hero soon finds himself roped into a vengeance mission.
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP
We resume where we left off last week, except the clock rewinds — oh phew, the bloody stabbing was a fakeout! Yo-han confronts Jin-hyung about the CCTV recording, and he confesses that he’d been set up. Following the GPS coordinates sent to him in a text message, he’d found Yo-han’s grandmother lying unconscious under the bridge and attempted to carry her to safety.
Jin-hyung implores Yo-han to believe him, and that sets off the waterworks — Yo-han admits that he’s been suffering terribly in prison. The sight of his tears has Jin-hyung pulling him into a tight embrace, but out of view, Yo-han’s expression hardens.
Flashback to five days ago. After patching up Yo-han’s wounds — incurred during a round of combat training with other inmates — Sun-oh asked Yo-han for a favor. (Can I just say how endearing it is that Sun-oh’s taken to calling Yo-han hyung?)
Believing that Seung-hwan is squirreling away funds under his nose, Sun-oh instructs Yo-han to find and obtain his secret ledger. With a bit of sleuthing, Yo-han almost figures out the trick, but Seung-hwan walks in at the wrong moment.
Yo-han’s holding the wrong book in his hand, so he gets off scot-free. The moment he’s out of the room, though, Seung-hwan immediately feeds his ledger notes into the paper shredder. That night, Yo-han nearly gets suffocated to death in his sleep by Seung-hwan’s cronies, and he awakes still alive but very much aware of the threat being made.
It doesn’t end there; Seung-hwan gives Yo-han a nearly-fatal case of poisoning with a dose of antifreeze in his herbal medicine. Yo-han flatlines but recovers, and Seung-hwan advises him to return to being a regular inmate, telling him that this isn’t a place he should be. For all that Seung-hwan openly detests Yo-han, there’s a somber note in his voice here that makes me think he might just be sincere.
Slimy Chairman Yang (a.k.a. the guy Yo-han was supposed to catch at the gambling den) pays the warden a visit, where he requests for Sun-oh to join them. We get a shocking revelation — Sun-oh used to be Chairman Yang’s underling, but he attempted to strike out and assert independence. Except Sun-oh’s hubris revealed all of his tells, and Chairman Yang defeated him soundly. Then he proceeded to viciously castrate Sun-oh sans anesthesia. Ouch.
Chairman Yang uses the meeting to gloat in Sun-oh’s face, as if we needed any more reason to despise him. He challenges Sun-oh to a round of cards with high stakes on the line, and Sun-oh agrees — but only if it’s two-on-two. Omg, are we finally going to see Sun-oh and Yo-han playing together?
Eventually, the disparate plots converge in a confusingly layered but ultimately satisfying way. Seung-hwan catches Yo-han sneaking to the infirmary to retrieve a scalpel and recording device, further fueling his suspicions regarding Yo-han’s VIP visitations and possible ties to Shinseondong.
However, the recording device turns out to be empty; Yo-han hadn’t recorded his meeting with Jin-hyung, contrary to my expectations. Seung-hwan’s suspicions still haven’t abated, so Sun-oh strings Yo-han up pendulum-style for a night, pretending to discipline him. Yo-han admits his reasons for sneaking the recorder and scalpel into the visitation, and Sun-oh offers a deal.
And so, Seung-hwan’s rebellion comes to an abrupt end when he and his cronies attempt to confront Sun-oh and Yo-han in a hallway. Using the security manager’s baton, Sun-oh beats Seung-hwan till he’s battered and shaking, and even Yo-han — who’s been roughed up far too often to count — cringes at the brutal violence.
Sun-oh almost looks like he’s losing his sanity, with a wildness in his eyes, and it terrifies the cronies into submission. Afterwards, though, Yo-han notices Sun-oh’s hand trembling — it’s clear he didn’t enjoy having to do what he just did, since he was putting on an act for Yo-han’s sake.
In any case, Sun-oh’s gotten Yo-han out of Seung-hwan’s clutches, so it’s time to return the favor. Yo-han learns card shuffling tricks from Sun-oh, ranging from concealing a card in his hand to reading card numbers off baseballs hurled past his face. Sun-oh doesn’t do things by halves, huh?
It’s so satisfying to see Yo-han progress from spilling cards all over the table, to shuffling out all the aces perfectly. Sun-oh looks just as proud as I am, and a particularly enthusiastic bout of cheering has him falling out of his chair, HAHA. Sun-oh’s like an excitable puppy, I luff him!
Greaseball Chairman Yang and his co-player Director Jin arrive for the face-off, and thus commences a tense battle where everyone’s trying to read one another. Yo-han and Sun-oh exchange secret signals, and Sun-oh urges Yo-han to continue betting despite holding a dismal hand.
Predictably, Yo-han loses the first round, but that’s exactly what they want — to get Chairman Yang to lower his guard by dismissing Yo-han as a mere rookie. Oh, it’s going to be so gratifying to see Chairman Yang lose because of the same complacency that once knocked Sun-oh down a peg, but the best thing about this game is that I have absolutely no idea how it will end.
The game goes on, and on, and on. It’s a testament to how evenly matched the players are, until a breakthrough moment comes — Yo-han realizes he’s finally gotten into the zone, and his body is all primed and geared up for a scam. It’s time.
He shuffles just like he’s practiced, but Chairman Yang’s eyes are sharp, and he gloats that he’s caught them cheating. Abruptly, he yanks Yo-han’s hand towards himself, aiming to stab it through with a fork — except Sun-oh’s reflexes are fast as lightning, and he immediately counters with a sharply folded card to Director Jin’s eye.
It’s Sun-oh that’s caught the actual cheating! He forces Director Jin to unbutton her sleeve, revealing cards hidden inside. The jig is up, and Sun-oh drawls that everything was caught on the room’s numerous CCTVs. Chairman Yang is done for in the gambling world if the videos are released, and so he winds up having to sign an agreement stating he’ll never step foot in the prison (and its gambling dens) again. Yesss, Sun-oh got his revenge!
Daylight dawns, and Yo-han is unreadably stoic in the aftermath of the scam. Sun-oh quickly explains his rationale behind why he tricked Yo-han into being bait, nervous that Yo-han might be mad at him — but Yo-han simply tells Sun-oh that he has to keep pushing on and bluff even better. Aaaaa, they’re partners now! For realsies!!
One month later, Sun-oh is released from prison. That also means there are big shoes to fill, which Seung-hwan is thirsting after — but not if Yo-han can help it. He’s already thought ahead, and when Seung-hwan hunts him down in the VIP room (after wheedling the location out of the warden), he’s ready to face him.
Yo-han asks why Seung-hwan has been suspicious of him since the start, to which Seung-hwan replies that his eyes don’t harbor the guilt that a criminal’s would. That means he’s either a psychopath or he’s hiding a secret, and Seung-hwan’s money is on the latter.
Earnestly, Yo-han offers to reveal his secrets to him — will he accept him then? Seung-hwan scoffs at first, but whatever Yo-han tells him soon wipes the derisive smile off his face, leaving him stunned.
Afterwards, Seung-hwan makes a call to Jin-hyung, asking what his relationship with Yo-han is. He replies that he’s the Chief Prosecutor as well as Yo-han’s mentor, and darkly requests that Yo-han not be bothered while he’s in prison.
It’s a powerful backing, but not powerful enough for Seung-hwan to back down. Yo-han ends up facing Seung-hwan and his cronies in the exact same hallway again, but this time there’s no Sun-oh to back him up.
Except he doesn’t need that. Turns out Yo-han managed to entice the avaricious Seung-hwan over with promises of money, vowing to take none of it for himself. He’s successfully bought Seung-hwan’s loyalty.
Meanwhile, Soo-yeon’s investigation continues. The investigator in charge of the death of Yo-han’s grandma was offed via suspicious suicide, so Soo-yeon’s tracking down the little boy that the investigator had been looking into prior to his death.
After a month of searching, she finds out that the boy’s father is a coin exchange trader who lived overseas for the past 15 years. He only recently returned, except the reason is unclear; worse yet, his citizen ID number has expired, so he’s going to be difficult to track down.
In order to speed up the process, they need even more powerful people than the ones Soo-yeon is already exploiting. Yo-han has an idea in mind — Shinseondong. With a swipe of an access card, Yo-han is (illegally) out of prison, ready to make his next move.
This drama really is an unexpected gem — every week I’m engaged by the unpredictable way the plot unfolds, peppered with unexpected moments of humour that have me literally laughing out loud. (Highlight of this week: Sun-oh informing Yo-han that he “reattached them” down there, just in case he was curious, ha.)
I’m sorry to see Sun-oh leave so soon, though I suppose it was necessary in order for Yo-han to bare his claws and assert his leadership. They have such an entertaining dynamic, you can’t blame me for wanting to see more!
Sun-oh has a manic, electrifying energy to him that simply lights up the screen and draws me in; he’s such a wonderfully complex character, and I really like how they gradually peeled back his layers to show the depth of his wit. To think I’d written him off as an arrogant and obnoxious boy at first, way back when Yo-han was still on Doo-chul’s side — I definitely think much differently of him now.
Before they parted ways, Sun-oh did say that he hopes Yo-han will continue helping him with his vengeance once they’re both out of prison, so I’m holding him to his word and looking forward to that. In the meantime, here’s a toast to Yo-han, who’s finally finding his footing and spreading his wings — the renewed resolve in his eyes is a sight to behold.
- Premiere Watch: Link: Eat, Love, Kill; Insider; Yumi’s Cells 2
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