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Blood Free: Episodes 3-4

Figuring out the identity of the ransomware mastermind, our heroine launches an international pursuit against the betrayer. In the process, her dark past is brought to the surface, revealing an ulterior motive that runs far deeper than any of the rumors about her company’s true nature.

 
EPISODES 3-4

Blood Free: Episodes 3-4

In a bid to narrow down the culprit, Ja-yoo has Hui illegally access the flight ticket purchases, money transfers, and location data of all BF employees. It’s chilling how easily she’s able to access such sensitive information, simply by virtue of being their boss with an advanced AI system. It turns out Shin-gu has a scheduled flight to visit his family, and he’d been the only employee in Sae-ip’s vicinity, right up till ten minutes prior to her crash.

Rewinding to the previous day, we see Shin-gu exclaiming with joy upon learning of Ja-yoo’s ransom payment. He’s counted his chickens before they’ve hatched, though, because Sae-ip overhears him through the door, having come by to deliver his belongings. Terrified that his perfect crime will go up in smoke, Shin-gu orchestrates Sae-ip’s accident to seal her lips.

By the time Ja-yoo, Chae-woon, and San make it to Shin-gu’s apartment, he’s already fled abroad. Shin-gu sneers spitefully at Ja-yoo when she calls, accusing her of being a murderer. “She could’ve lived a few months more if not for you,” Shin-gu snarls.

A flashback reveals that Shin-gu’s wife had been suffering from intestinal cancer. He’d pleaded with Ja-yoo to give the procedure a shot, despite her reminders that the procedure is still in development. In her office, San criticizes her for exploiting Shin-gu’s desperation, but Ja-yoo argues that they have no other choice. As a company that cannot utilize animal testing, their last resort is a human body.

Now, Shin-gu has nothing but vitriol for Ja-yoo, and the call comes to a bitter end. Shaken by the betrayal from someone she’s trusted deeply for years, Ja-yoo retreats to a stairwell to gather herself. Then, she relays the situation to Jae, who notifies the relevant embassies and revokes Shin-gu’s passport.

Predicting that Shin-gu will forge a new passport overseas, Chae-woon confronts a group of illegal immigrant brokers. After a fight sprinkled with some comic relief, he hands them Shin-gu’s information. The hefty reward is theirs for the taking, if they can use their international network to track him down.

It works, but Chae-woon’s efficiency inadvertently makes Ja-yoo distrustful of how he always seems to have exactly what she needs, at just the right place and time. Once she hears his explanation, though, his tenacity convinces her. Giving him a smartwatch connected to BF’s AI operating system (voiced by Go Geon-han), Ja-yoo asks him not to work for any other company, even if he leaves BF. Chae-woon can’t make that promise, but she fastens the watch around his wrist anyway.

Right then, their conversation is interrupted by unwelcome news. Shin-gu has died of a heart attack on his plane to France, and though an autopsy declares a lack of foul play (which I highly doubt), the timing of his death fuels the conspiracy theories against Ja-yoo.

Blood Free: Episodes 3-4

With the hordes of vindictive protestors surrounding the company buildings, Chae-woon deems it too dangerous for Ja-yoo to continue staying at the office. Instead, he takes her to his house, which turns out to not be all that safe either — they narrowly miss the scarred man (Choi Young-joon!!) scoping out the vicinity and nearly sneaking in. Chae-woon does notice the suspiciously parked car outside, but he doesn’t follow up on it.

Inside, Chae-woon’s adorable cat (hilariously named Man-shik) takes an instant liking to Ja-yoo, hee. After she settles in, Chae-woon asks why she isn’t more upset by the false allegations against her; he’s certain she had no part in Shin-gu’s death, though he can’t speak for his late wife. In Chae-woon’s eyes, Ja-yoo isn’t the type who would kill for personal vengeance — but perhaps, for her company, it might be a different story.

Blood Free: Episodes 3-4

While in the car with Hui, Ja-yoo receives a request from Jae to meet up, only for him to leave the house right as she arrives. There’s been a large-scale police armory raid, necessitating his presence. As Ja-yoo leaves, road construction forces her car to make a detour — right into an ambush. A shootout in the woods ensues, and though Chae-woon and newbie Ho-seung are equipped with firearms that Hae-deun procured, they’re still outnumbered.

As they take cover, the gunshots trigger Ja-yoo’s traumatic flashbacks of the bombing, and her convulsing uncontrollably in a hospital bed. “Isn’t this better? You might as well die quickly with a single shot, then succumb to the hole in your head,” Ja-yoo’s inner voice taunts, temptingly.

Clocking her distress, Chae-woon reassures her that he’ll protect her, right by her side. Then just as a grenade lands beside them, Chae-woon stands up, taking a shot to the chest, and hurls the grenade right back at their attackers.

I really liked the relationship progression between Ja-yoo and Chae-woon this week, from suspicion to tentative trust and a burgeoning camaraderie. Despite learning of Chae-woon’s presence at the bombing and wondering if he might be a spy in Moon-kyu’s pocket, she’s also witnessed his dedication and his visceral abhorrence of ransomware hackers firsthand. The smartwatch signifies her trust and her acceptance of him into BF, even if she may not know his true motives yet.

On Chae-woon’s end, he’s begun to display subtle moments of care and consideration towards Ja-yoo. While a cynic might label them as mere tactics to gain her trust, I can’t help but view his actions as genuine. Chae-woon didn’t need to wrap a blanket around her in the cold winter air, or curse Shin-gu out on her behalf, or remove her cup of scalding coffee from her tensed grasp before it could spill onto her — but he did, and it feels like part of his empathetic nature rather than a disingenuous ploy.

The plot is moving at breakneck speed, introducing two new characters that harbor even more secrets. First, there’s KIR — the man that confessed to the bombing — whose story Chae-woon easily pokes holes in. Why would he have ushered the kids he’d taught and adored right into the bomb zone? Why would he have wailed in anguish over their dead bodies, if he’d known about the bombing in advance? Clearly, there’s someone else pulling the strings.

Then there’s the chairman SEONU GEUN (Eom Hyo-seop), Jae’s father and the former son-in-law of Moon-kyu, who makes an offer to Ja-yoo — he’d like to acquire BF’s HQ, laboratory, and cell culture research for 32 trillion won. Ja-yoo is tempted by the exorbitant sum, but the main concern holding her back is whether she can keep BF’s intangible assets concealed. She can relinquish her synthetic meat, but not her secrets.

Blood Free: Episodes 3-4

Between Ja-yoo’s seizures, Jae’s intravenous injections, and the trials on Shin-gu’s cancer-ridden wife, it seems the common thread may perhaps be linked to cell regeneration on a level beyond that of stem cells. If entire organs could be cultivated from scratch to replace diseased ones, such a groundbreaking technology would be equal parts highly coveted and dangerously volatile.

Shin-gu’s cancer-ridden wife had been eligible for the experimental trials, yet Ja-yoo’s reaction last week suggests the man with the damaged organs was not, which leads me to wonder about the technology’s limitations. Does that mean it cannot proliferate cells without an intact and healthy sample of some sort? If so, that calls its sustainability into question — on top of all its ethical quandaries, of course. I might be barking up the wrong tree entirely, but speculating is part of the fun, isn’t it?

 
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I enjoyed the action scenes this episode. The alley fight. Though the last sequence of bombing and shooting in the middle of nowhere felt a bit much.

I enjoy how fast the plot moves. And it’s hard to trust anyone. I do feel Chae-woon never wanted to be part of this for ‘revenge’. So I do think he is judging her without prejudice and will form his own conclusions about her. He is more interested in the truth rather than just following the ex-Presidents order.

And yes, it does seem like some organ regeneration experiments are going on. Very fishy and shady I suppose.

I like the subtle tension when the leads are together. So much chemistry with so little said.

Also the PM - I don’t know how to read him. I think he is different from him father. He may have a thing for JaYoo but he wants to get what he wants by earning her trust rather than underhanded approach. I can’t tell. Does daddy know this too? I know better than to trust anyone. But I think Chae-woon is the most moral and honest person amongst all.

And finally, we saw Man-Shik 😇

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Well, Man-shik sure knows who he wants to move in to Chae-woon's family home, doesn't he? 😻

These episodes were nicely paced again, balancing thriller-tension with sexual-tension. I love the beige-cyan-red color palette (for some unknown reason...it's not particularly beautiful!) as well.

I ended up less trusting of most characters this week because no one seems to be working towards the same goal(s) whatsoever. Everyone has their own discrete needs, and that means that heaven only knows what they'll do (or who they'll throw under a ToD) to meet their individual objectives!

I look forward to the twisty-turns that are surely ahead.

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In Man-Shik we trust !!

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The only smile we've seen from our FL thanks, Man- shik

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Thanks, @solstices for you cogent recap. I'm sure your speculation at the end is correct, and that the villainous trio's attempts to acquire the company will have some connection with the prime minister illness.

I also appreciated the deepening relationship between the leads. I thought gradually making the FL more sympathetic, while not entirely revealing what she was up to, was well done, and Joo Ji-hoon's character became an even more charismatic in these 2 episodes, even though I'm not entirely sure how much he's willing to work with the villains for his own purposes.

As it happens, I have a little insight on organ regeneration and the growing of "organoids" in culture, because of relatives in the biotech industry working with exactly this process. Forgive me if everyone already knows this, but just as with cultured meat, in real life the promise far exceeds what can be produced. With cultured meat, its the problem of scaling up production; with growing organs its the problem of inducing the cells in culture to create blood vessels, nerve cells, etc. -- actually advancing beyond a small chunk of tissue. The other trouble is reproducibility--even if using stem cells from the possible patient, you can't necessarily guarantee the tissue will develop in a way to match the stem-cell donor.

But also, just as with cultured meat, there's nothing unethical about this kind of research or product per se unless researchers refuse to credit the stem cell donor and then try to profit off the mini-organ they are able to grow with those cells.

Obviously in real life, the willingness to experiment on the wife, (which was doing what--withdraw some of her cells and try to grow an organ?), especially if it was just with her husband's knowledge and not hers, was unethical. But I'll be interested to see what additional ethical dilemma the show tries to create with the process of organ generation, while Joo Ji-hoon battles the bad guys on the street!

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"unless researchers refuse to credit the stem cell donor and then try to profit off the mini-organ"

Uh, Henrietta-Lacks-cells level of villainy.

Thank you for a great and concise overview of this field. It was fascinating to read.

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You beat me to it, Henrietta Lacks indeed. Honestly, probably others we don't know about.

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It's hard to follow the trio ex-president, PM and ex-son-in-law/father, they all seem to expect different wish from Ja-Yoo (her death, her compagny) but still kinda work together...

Clearly, Shin-Gu didn't do it alone but who from the trio helped him?

The cancer research seems shady, at least the protocol.

Chae-Woon's time of reaction in the last scene was quite disapointing. And he was shot after saying everything will be ok... Fortunately, he looks good in suit.

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Yeah, that last chase and shooting wasn’t that great. As a soldier I would have expected him to crawl to the grenade or Atleast get shot due to a minor timing issue. He was exposing himself way too much.
He was shot on the left side of the chest. How are they going to explain his survival??

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He's the ML, he can't die?

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Regenerate a heart??

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You beat me to THIS by one failed refresh ;) Ah well. Twisted Great minds think alike!

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Guys! My primitive mind is hoping he had a bullet proof vest 😂😂😂
Judge me. (Ok ok. I know We saw blood).

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Or an arm/shoulder if he had a bullet proof vest. Looks like she will regenerate something and he'll be her lab mouse.

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That's one of the stakes I count on when tragedies happen this early.
I'd be panicking if this multiple injuries occured in the finale.

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Thank you Kurama, you made me laugh with your comment "And he was shot after saying everything will be ok....Fortunately, he looks good in suit." :)
The last chase scene and shooting seemed very random and over the top.

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I really appreciate our family of potential villains casting their eye on Ja-yoo:
Grandfather/Former President: Wants retribution for bombing
Son-in-law/Businessman: Wants her business
Grandson/Prime Minister: May want her tech for his illness, and maybe just want her? He had a different reaction to her spending the night at Chae-woon’s than his father.

While the generations seem to be working together now, I am sure there will be delicious double crossing coming up.

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Can we just pause to appreciate how GORGEOUS Ju Ji-hoon looks in all his dark turtlenecks and well-tailored suits and automatic weapons (and his correct! placement of a trigger finger!) executing his GORGEOUS low kicks and fast strong punches while saving damsel-in-distress?

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The power of a well dressed JJH :)
I will admit that this is one of the reasons (he is a great actor as well) I'm still here watching as the show can be a bit dry for me at times, the female lead is cold, clinical and hard to get invested in.

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To be honest, after watching the trailer, he was the ONLY reason I started watching this show. I am a simple woman, hehe

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I have a bit of an issue with the end of the episode. How can a bodyguard as good as Chae Woon not realize those guys were sketchy. It was so obvious, come now? Otherwise I enjoyed the rest of episode and the tension, so much delicious tension.

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He failed in preventing the dashcam from recording Ja Yoo. Even if no one was there he shouldn’t have let anything capture her entering his house.
And a detour right after stolen guns. Even if he didn’t connect them, He should have stopped the car and turned around when he remembered the tattoo. He had a doubt but didn’t act on it.

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Fortunately, he looks good in a suit.

--@kurama

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I’m saving this quote for all future cinematic faux-pas. It can justify quite a lot in my book. (I even got through The Impossible Heir for half of its run entirely for THAT reason!) 😂🙈

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He also didn’t listen to his spidey sense at the mysterious car parked outside his house when they first pulled in.

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Yup, yup, I guess he isn't that great of a bodyguard, but huzzah for tension, lol

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On San ended up gaining my trust this week. I think I'll stop projecting because he is played by an actor whose previous characters have been sketchy for a while now. I'll simply see him as On San instead of ambiguous Lee Moo-saeng.

The twist about who sent the ransomware had me. And, I don't think he's dead. The conversation Seonu Jae had in the preceding sequence and the drink that poisoned him seems like two unrelated and different things. People might want him dead, but not from that call. That call wanted him hostage whilst BF wanted him extradited.

The subtle jealousy when On San came to Jayu's and saw Chaewon there. I laughed out loud. This drama truly knows how to show and not tell. It was something that one could easily miss and I guess the writer threw it in to mess with my head.

Why do I think disabled President's son-in-law is responsible for the attack or has a hand in it?

I'm also believing they have some medical experiment going on. Something beyond cultured meat. And that might be what this people are after - BFs medical experiment technology. It can grow limbs. And address whatever made Jae be on fluids.

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I also like the fast-paced twists of BloodFree, the ethical dilemmas being set up and the subtle tension beginning to build between characters, but I dunno beanies, I think the show skims at the surface level and takes itself too seriously. It would be elevated with a little more heart, a little more levity.

I think that’s why I enjoyed the dust up with the brokers, which was fun and visually creative, rather than the melodramatic Shootout At the Not OK Detour. Or why I’m quite enjoying the Prime Minister’s character. I love all the emotions that flow across his face, even if they aren’t positive. This man, he’s got charisma. (Also, some nice suits ☺️)

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Wait, hold the phone! Is this a whiff of SLS from @indyfan??? Oh, how my eyes shine with glee.

I agree that some of the plotting here is ponderous, and also that the moments of levity are pretty well-paced to keep ya going...

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Wait, what? SLS? No, no. Sweats Not yet at least. 😅

You’re making me feel disloyal to JJH, who as @bomibeans notes has all the moves and the turtlenecks. But I’m with @MrsBuckwheat in that both leads are playing it too flat for me to be emotionally invested in them. But I know they can do much more so I’m waiting for the payoff.

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“both leads are playing it too flat for me to be emotionally invested in them”

I am not noticing any flat acting. I’m distracted by all the gorgeous gelled-up raven black hair, turtleneck and suits. Please, don’t ruin my “in-love” phase just yet. 😂🫠

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I guessed that it was the retiring researcher based on the fact that he was much less attractive than all the other workers and didn’t fit in looks wise. Often being less attractive in k-drama land is like being the extra on Star Trek: you are evil, disposable, or going to be eaten by aliens.

I would like more moral dilemmas and a little less security problems. I like the action, but find the discussions more interesting. The moment when the PM’s father is saying how immoral the FL lead was for sleeping at her body guard’s while gathering a group of hostesses at his house was some well done obvious hypocrisy. I kind of like the PM. I hope he stays complicated.

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can't get over the subtle currents of attraction I see between Jayoo and Chae Woon. I know there are indication that he may be married. But I didnt hear him actually mention it himself, only a parent, sibling and a nephew in the US. For a father, it is unlikely he will not be in contact with his own kid for four episodes.

Also Chae Woon is very good looking and also shooting his own sparks of something toward Jayoo. If he is not what he seems to be, I will be shocked. He seems to be genuine in his interest to find out the truth and help Jayoo.

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Thank you @solstices for the recap! Must've been time consuming considering each BF episode prolly contains 2-3 episodes worth of plot points in an average K-drama lol!
Some thoughts:
1. Writer and/or director chose to sabotage Chae-woon's competence as a bodyguard a lil bit in order to move the plots along, and I'm okay with that even though with some clever arrangements they could've avoided these minor "blemishes".
2. It's quite obvious PM is the main villain/big boss of the series. He's the only one among the unholy trinity that is highly intelligent and enigmatic. I do believe in addition to wanting to seize BF's core technology he also wants Ja-Yoo as a woman. He was visibly upset when daddy was bad mouthing Ja-yoo's decision to stay at Chae-woon's house, and had that dark, unreadable expression on his face when he saw a picture of Chae-woon & Ja-yoo together as if he's a husband receiving evidence of wife's infidelity lol. I have no doubt when he finally reveals his true color and the extent of his ambition it would be a sight that is both revolting and magnificent. I love it when the main villain is sophisticated and keeps his cards close to his (designer) vest.
3. The romantic tension between Ja-yoo and Chae-woon is subtle but obvious at the same time. For Chae-woon's agenda the wise thing to do should've been staying on her good side all the time so he could gain her trust fast. Yet he's time and again shown real emotions in front of her, somehow not being able to just gloss over things or be ingenuine in front of her even though he does withhold information/not tell the whole truth. It's also super telling that he wants to act "cool" in front her, not wanting to ask her for the reward money and definitely not wanting her to believe for a second that he was beaten up by thugs lol. On Ja-yoo's part, she's hyper aware of his physical proximity, at times she appeared wary (when he approaches looking upset about something she's said), at times she looked shy (when she was in his house). But what I enjoy even more is when they quarrel, it's rare to see an alpha male being paired up with an alpha female in a k-drama and instead of arguing for the heck of it actual words of substance were exchanged between them, as subconsciously they both wanted to know the other person better, beyond what is absolutely necessary for their respective purposes ("was she behind the bombing" "is he a spy").

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In episode 3, Shin-gu crossed the same street the younger-me used to hang out with my classmates when we need to complete our group assignment in express 😂

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I guess, from Vietnam, Shin-gu traveled to Cambodia and got a fake passport in Thailand before crossing over to my homecity.. in Kdrama universe, it is so easy to pass through our immigration with a fake passport.

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