TL;DR: I hate this cult so much, and I’m not even the one trapped in it.
Sang-mi has traded one prison for another, and I’m absolutely furious on her behalf. Her own father put a padlock on her door and then hung up a cross right outside it while shouting prayers about her need for salvation. He has, at this point for me, crossed the line from tragically misguided to an outright antagonist, and I hope he goes down with the Guseonwon leadership.
All of this religious stuff is hitting way too close to home and it’s like watching my own personal slow-motion anxiety train wreck.
While I’m glad that Sang-hwan has clued in to the fact that Something Is Wrong, he is a bull in a china shop. Barging in when Sang-mi is surrounded by handlers and asking flat out if she needs help was never going to work; if he had any grasp of subtlety, he would have agreed to take a survey and tried to write her a message that way or conspicuously point to his phone number or something. But no, now he is on Eun-shil’s radar, and she has a ridiculous amount of cunning. Sang-hwan, you’re going to get Sang-mi in real trouble one of these days.
Or get her to think she could be in even more trouble. Her father is officially one of her jailers now, not just an anchor keeping her in the Guseonwon, and Wan-tae’s smiling threats means she now has reason to fear for her mother’s life. She was willing to try to run away to seek help in episode five because it was her first chance to break away, but all of the immediate avenues for help were cut off. Sang-hwan has made himself conspicuous and made Sang-mi’s life harder—he needs to calm down and use his brain.
(Side note: In episode four, I think, there was a line about how Sang-mi had been in the Guseonwon for three years and that still nobody could tell what she was thinking, and I adored that moment. Silence is one of the only tools she has right now, and she has been employing it liberally against the Guseonwon people. Keep them on edge, uncertain, uncomfortable, anxious.)
I am highly concerned by what’s going on with Dong-chul right now. What are you doing joining a gang? (Furthering the plot, obviously, but still.) I would have liked to see you try to make an “honest” living before marching into the nightclub, but you appear to have something of a plan and also a history with Joon-gu, so I’ll let it slide. (I’m so glad that Joon-gu’s cross tattoos weren’t wasted on an NPC.) Joon-gu has his own tragic betrayal that sent him to prison, and I’m wondering whether he will serve as a mentor or as a cautionary tale for Dong-chul as the show goes on. Perhaps both.
Dong-chul’s little flashback with his grandmother was just heart-wrenchingly awful. I feel a tiny bit mollified toward Sang-hwan, Jung-hoon, and Man-hee knowing that Dong-chul was the one to refuse to have them as visitors in the prison, but I’ll definitely be on Dong-chul’s side when it comes to the inevitable showdown. You guys should have at least shown up at the prison to give him the opportunity to reject you on his release day.
I’m also glad that Dong-chul hasn’t lost his instinctive urge to protect people who are in danger. Right now he’s one of the few people in this show I’m trusting to be mostly good at heart, even if I don’t know what he’s up to. And there is so much he could be up to right now. By my count we have at least three different factions in this show: the Guseonwon group, Han Yong-min and associates, and now Lee Jin-seok’s gang. I don’t know how they will all connect , but I imagine they’ll either butt heads soon for control over something or that they’ll be revealed to be working together. I’m just hoping that Sang-mi and the quartet can survive all of this.
By the Numbers
- Padlocks: 1
- Cigarettes: 3
- Heartbreaking kisses: 1
- Bechdel Test: 3 episodes passed