Sunday, August 31, 2014

Triangle: Episode 17

It’s not the most thrilling of episodes when it’s all plots and plans and little follow-through—but we do get some where it counts, however sparingly. And though we may not get many specifics this hour, there are some refreshing moments of honesty between our two lovebirds as well as with a son and his long-lost mother. I just hope Young-dal wasn’t bluffing about his ability to handle all the enemies in his path, because he’s going to need more than a little bravado to win this game.
Jo Kyu-chan – “발라드는 거짓말이다 (The Ballad is a Lie)” from the OST [ Download ]


We cut from the brothers’ heartfelt reunion to Young-dal holding a picture of their father as we hear Dong-soo, in voiceover, tell Young-dal how Chairman Yoon and Chairman Go were responsible for killing their father.
So he pays a visit to Chairman Yoon, who doesn’t seem to know about Young-dal’s true parentage—especially now that Young-dal is working for the company. Chairman Yoon praises Young-dal for his sound business plan in bringing more profits to Daejung, while Young-dal acts the part and keeps his cover fully in tact.
In flashback, we return to Dong-soo and Young-dal’s post-reunion conversation, where Dong-soo had warned Young-dal that Chairman Yoon and Yang-ha might know that they’re brothers now that Chairman Go knows.

But Young-dal didn’t seem as concerned, since he doesn’t think Chairman Yoon would make a move against him so long as he needs Elder Ahn’s money. Dong-soo trusts him, but again reminds him that Chairman Yoon killed their father: “There’s nothing he wouldn’t do in order to get what he wants.”
In his own way, Young-dal reassured him that he’d be okay, since he lived his entire life as trash and had to deal with plenty of bad people. “No matter what Yoon Tae-joon or Yoon Yang-ha tries to do, I can do much worse than they ever can because I’ve lived as a street thug without even an ounce of respect.”
Dong-soo’s reaction isn’t at all what Young-dal wanted, but they’re words that needed to be said. He apologized for the life Young-dal led and blames it all on himself: “You were still so young, and Dong-woo was just a baby. But I left you two alone. At the time, I had no idea that what I did would keep us apart for nearly thirty years. I’m sorry, Dong-chul-ah.”

While an extra insecure Yang-ha gets updated on Young-dal’s success—especially with his father—we see Jun-ho introducing Young-dal and his buds to the luxury villa Chairman Yoon gave him as a thank you gift.
Though Jailbreak and Jang-soo get super excited about their buddy’s new home, Young-dal tells them to dial it back a bit, because he knows this is only a ploy by Chairman Yoon to exert more power over him.
Since Manager Bae has been acting as Boss Min’s spy within Daejung, Young-dal calls him in to thank him as well as to tell him to keep up the good work in helping him. He considers him part of his “family” now, along with the always-helpful Jun-ho.

Young-dal gets the hotel to cater a lavish party in his new and enormous back yard. He invites all his friends, like Boss Yang, Boss Min, Elder Ahn, etc., and takes the time to thank all of them for being there for him when he was at his lowest.
“I’d like to take this moment to promise you that I will never disappoint you or let any of you down,” he adds at the end of his heartfelt speech. Hm, methinks he’s creating a super alliance to help him going forward. But at least we know he means it when he says thanks.
After the party, Young-dal’s buddies notice his waning mood. “It’s because I didn’t invite the person I’ve been missing the most,” he says. They know he means Jung-hee, but Young-dal also mentions Grandma and Jung-hee’s two younger bros. Aww.

But despite wanting to, he can’t bring himself to invite them. Technically, he already rejected Jung-hee as an act of noble idiocy—but seeing as how she rejected his rejection, I’d just list their status as complicated.
Jang-soo leaves for Macau to net some foreign investors while Young-dal fits into life as a director at Daejung, which has most of the dealers chattering excitedly over how handsome he is—even if a few are dubious about the casino’s future now that scum like Jailbreak and Jang-soo are working there.

Young-dal (called Director Heo by the staff now), pays a visit to the dealer’s room in order to tell the girls that because he lived as a lowlife in the casino circuit before, he’s much more attuned to the difficulties they have to face as dealers.
“From this point on, I vow to become your biggest advocate here at the casino. Please take good care of me,” he promises to great applause. Jung-hee is the only one who looks uncomfortable, as her and Young-dal can only share a silent, charged look.
Just when Chairman Go is mad enough to hear that Boss Min has been gathering her husband’s men to go to war with him, Dong-soo calls alive and well—much to Chairman Go’s chagrin. “Why aren’t you saying anything?” Dong-soo taunts. “Are you scared because someone you thought was dead has come back to life?”

Chairman Go tries to control his rage as he reluctantly acknowledges that Dong-soo has one hell of a long lifeline. Dong-soo replies that it’s his turn now to see just how long Chairman Go’s lifeline is, to which Go replies that if Dong-soo keeps coming after him, his little brother Young-dal won’t be safe.
But that’s exactly what Dong-soo wanted to hear and address: “Listen to me very carefully. If you even lay a finger on by brother Dong-chul, it’ll be the end of you.” Chairman Go seems to take that as a challenge and claims it only makes him want to hurt Young-dal more, but Dong-soo’s voice turns even more menacing as he vows Chairman Go will pay dearly if he ever touches Young-dal.
Needless to say, Chairman Go is very displeased to know that Dong-soo is alive, and orders his lackey to call up a man named Myung-jae from Busan. We don’t know who that is, but judging by the dramatic music, he’s probably not an ideal dinner guest.

Since Shin-hye can’t stop Dong-soo from overdoing himself so soon after his serious injury, she tells him that she was able to find and meet his old orphanage director—but because the woman now has Alzheimer’s, she can’t help them locate his missing brother.
She also tells him that Young-dal (who she calls Dong-chul now, but for ease of use we’ll stick with Young-dal) went to see their mother while Dong-soo was in a coma. But because of her current circumstances, Young-dal thought it would be better for Dong-soo never to meet her.
Meanwhile, Young-dal is updated on Jang-soo’s progress: He’s bringing the chairman of one of Macau’s biggest lending enterprises back with him, which will equal a slam dunk for them if they can make a deal.

But then some surprising news comes down from Jun-ho, who announces that Director Hyun is now Head Director Hyun, which used to be Yang-ha’s position. Does this mean that Yang-ha’s been ousted from the company?
Not quite, as it turns out, since we hear what happened straight from Director Hyun’s lips: Yang-ha has instead been demoted to a customer service job for failing to live up to his father’s impossible standards. Which means Director Hyun is now extra hopeful that Chairman Yoon will eventually disown Yang-ha as his son and heir.
Yang-ha goes on a solo and uber-sponsored Brooding Camping Trip, as he flashes back to the moment where his father demoted him. As if his beef with Young-dal wasn’t already big enough, now he’s the very reason why he was demoted in the first place, since he “lost” to Young-dal during the big boardroom meeting.

Jung-hee looks troubled when she hears that Yang-ha’s demotion was due to Young-dal, who her casino unni Hyun-mi praises as really coming into his own lately—enough to where he even earned Chairman Yoon’s respect.
But when she asks Jung-hee whose side she’ll take (Young-dal or Yang-ha), Jung-hee brushes her off and claims that she won’t take anyone’s side.
Young-dal meets with Shin-hye to discuss her ex-husband’s recent new promotion in order to ask her about what Chairman Yoon wants out of all this, and what kind of man Director Hyun is.
Since Shin-hye read over the rules of medical ethics like an iTunes service agreement, she has no qualms in telling Young-dal that Yang-ha is Chairman Yoon’s adopted son (something he wasn’t aware of before), and that the constant fear of being disowned and abandoned by his overbearing father has left Yang-ha emotionally scarred.

She takes Yang-ha’s recent demotion as a sign that Chairman Yoon might be fazing out his unfit son, since that’s the kind of man he is. Since she knows her ex-husband, she also knows how great his ambition is and how he’ll take this as a chance to become Daejung’s heir in Yang-ha’s place, and wouldn’t hesitate to betray Chairman Yoon if that’s what it took. “You’re going to have to remain cautious and keep an eye out for him,” she warns Young-dal.
Dong-soo meets with Boss Min for the firs time as well as Manbong Hyungnim, who he’d thought was on Chairman Go’s side. Manbong just smiles as he blames a gangster’s fleeting loyalty, and that now he’s betting on Young-dal to win.
Because Dong-soo knows that Boss Min is going to war with Chairman Go, he advises her not to attack him head on. Instead, he’ll give her a list of Chairman Go’s weak points to go after first.

While Chairman Go makes a devilish bargain with his newly-introduced and supposedly dangerous wild card Myung-jae, Madame Jang and her lackey take offense at the fact that Young-dal didn’t invite them to his party.
Even though Boss Yang tells them that Young-dal only invited people who’ve helped him (which automatically excludes those two), Madame Jang gets a glint in her eye as she says she’ll meet Young-dal herself to talk some things out—namely, that she has a plan that will make him hand over some of Daejung’s VIP customers to her.
Young-dal goes to Jung-hee’s house to pick up some of his things because he’ll be living at the hotel for a while. He denies that he’s moving out for good when Grandma questions him while Byung-soo runs inside to tell Jung-hee that Young-dal’s back.

She finds him in his old room, and after a bit of forced small talk she cuts to the chase: “I made a promise to myself that I’d watch over you and wait for you no matter what you decided to do, but… it’s not that easy. I keep feeling hurt and upset wondering why I have to do that. I guess I’m more selfish than I thought.” Noo, don’t break up! Don’t break up!
Young-dal doesn’t even try to excuse his behavior, to which Jung-hee asks why they can’t just date each other casually. “It’s just that being apart from you is too hard on me,” she admits as tears start to well up in her eyes. “I’d rather you tell me that you’re leaving me because you hate me and don’t want me around. It’d be hard, but I’d be able to accept it. But when I can see that you’re fighting such a risky and lonely battle… how do you expect me to just leave you?”

Again, Young-dal says nothing, which causes Jung-hee to call him a bad person, as though she’s finally letting herself believe what she’s been desperately trying to deny. But as she turns away, Young-dal slowly wraps his arms around her from behind, and she grips his arm in return. Aww, yay. I was worried he was just going to commit to the noble idiot thing and let her hate him, but this is way better.
Manager Bae finds Yang-ha drinking alone and offers him an opportunity to get back into the game. He promises to give him all the information he’d ever need to bring Young-dal down if he takes the deal he’s offering (which, of course, we don’t get to hear—that’s the theme of this episode).
And when Yang-ha asks why Manager Bae is switching sides, Bae replies that he’s not keen on betting on the losing player, aka Young-dal. “I’m betting on you because I’m confident that you can win.” Hm, is he really betraying Young-dal, or is this all part of Young-dal’s plan?

While Madame Jang overhears Manbong making plans to target Chairman Go’s use of thugs at his construction sites, the Busan mafia boss Myung-jae comes to the private casino looking for him. Manbong immediately calls Boss Min in fear—they both know who Myung-jae Hyungnim is, and his appearance is not a good sign.
Boss Min knows Chairman Go must have called Myung-jae in, and knows how serious a problem this can become for them. She decides to call Dong-soo up to—waaait for it—come up with another plan.

Dong-soo calls Young-dal up from outside their mother’s restaurant to tell him that Chairman Go has called in the notoriously cruel and merciless mob boss Myung-jae in.
He warns his little bro to be careful since they could come after him, to which Young-dal replies: “Hyung, you be careful too.” D’aww.
Dong-soo goes into Mom’s restaurant only to find her other rude son there, who won’t even give him the time of day while Mom’s out. When she comes in to find Dong-soo and her son in a heated argument, she immediately grabs Dong-soo and orders her son to call the police.

“I’m Dong-soo,” he tells Mom, which gets her to stop cold. “Jang Dong-soo.” Mom’s face falls as she recognizes the name, and she looks about to crumble as she orders her other son outside.
“Why did you come here? How did you find me?” she asks Dong-soo, but won’t even look at him. When he tells her to face him, she admits that she can’t—especially since she couldn’t even recognize her own son.
But Dong-soo loses his cool when Mom says she has nothing to say to him. “You really don’t have anything to say?! Look me in the eyes and tell me!”

“What right do I have to look at you?” Mom cries as she turns to look at his face. “What right do I have to say anything to you?” She devolves into piteous sobs right in front of Dong-soo, who barely holds his own emotions in.
Later, we find him walking down the street with tears streaming down his face. Mom remains behind in the restaurant screaming with pain and grief.
Manager Bae (now working with Yang-ha) tells him of Young-dal’s plan to make a deal with Myungahnsoo Group—that huge private lending enterprise in Macau—and how he’d win Chairman Yoon’s approval if the deal were to work. Their options are to turn the deal in Yang-ha’s favor or to stop the deal entirely, but they can’t let Young-dal win.

Yang-ha is surprised when Jung-hee stops him in the hallway to ask how he’s doing. He admits that things are difficult, but that he won’t show any weakness in front of her—instead, he’d rather take revenge on Young-dal for humiliating him and putting him in this situation in the first place.
He tells her to stick around and watch since the battle sure to ensue, but Jung-hee musters up her courage to ask if he could just… not fight with Young-dal. He all but scoffs, since he knows that she’d feel no sympathy for him if he did nothing about it and let himself fail.
“I’m not going to obsess over you anymore,” he declares. “So stop showing interest in me.” Oh, burn. The real question is, does he mean it?

Myung-jae finds Young-dal taking golf lessons, and skips the small talk since Young-dal knows very well who he is: “I’ll keep this short: Stop everything you’re planning on doing right now.” He says it as a threat, which Young-dal immediately questions. What business does Myung-jae have with him?
The menacing gangster says that he owes Chairman Go a debt, and in order to pay it back, Young-dal has to do as he tells him. “What if I choose not to listen to you?” Young-dal replies, which was not the kind of answer Myung-jae was expecting. In fact, Young-dal doesn’t seem to be all that scared by his threats, or of Chairman Go.
Myung-jae acknowledges that Young-dal is no easy adversary, but warns him that he better be ready to stand by his words. Young-dal only lets himself look troubled after Myung-jae has gone.

Shin-hye tells Dong-soo that the senile orphanage director remembers him, but that Dong-soo can’t go see her since it’d cause her to revert back to not remembering. Or something.
But at least we hear the rest of the conversation Dong-soo had with Mom, since he tells Shin-hye that Mom went to the orphanage to get them when she found out that they had been sent there after their father passed away… but by the time she got there, he and Young-dal had already left and little Dong-woo had just been adopted.
All Mom knows is that Dong-woo was adopted by a mining tycoon, which gets Shin-hye thinking. What if… that mining business was Dongjin Mines? What if it was Chairman Yoon’s mine?
Dong-soo shakes his head at her suggestion, since he blatantly can’t accept it: “No matter how crazy a bastard Yoon Tae-joon may be, he wouldn’t adopt the son of the man he murdered.”

Young-dal and the boys end up meeting Jiyeon when she asks them for directions to Yang-ha’s office. He’s uninterested until Jun-ho tells him that she’s the only daughter of Chairman Sung, owner of a well-known casino empire.
Jiyeon is disappointed to find out that Yang-ha only called her because he needs her father’s help, but he placates her well enough when he tells her that he’ll be at her beck and call if things go according to his plan. Whatever that may be.
Young-dal tells Boss Min about Myung-jae’s unwelcome visit. Manbong knows how Myung-jae works and guesses that he’ll go after the person Young-dal cares about the most: Dong-soo.

In the meantime, Myung-jae kidnaps Boss Min’s minion Top Dog and threatens him into doing whatever it is that he wants. Again, it’s another unspoken agreement—Top Dog knows what it is that he wants, but we don’t. It sure sounds like murder though.
While Young-dal finds out that Jang-soo’s gone mysteriously missing in Macau, Yang-ha greets the chairman Jang-soo was supposed to bring back with him and makes the deal with Myungahnsoo Group instead of Young-dal. Does that mean he kidnapped Jang-soo too?

On her way home from work, Jung-hee is kidnapped by thugs in a black van. Yang-ha ends up witnessing it, but can only chase after the van on foot before it speeds out of his reach.
…Which is when Young-dal finds out that Yang-ha sniped his deal with Myungahnsoo, and probably kidnapped his friend. Yikes.

It’s a bit of a letdown after so many strong weeks to have an hour devoted mostly to set up, though there are plenty of arguments to be made for and against the necessity of watching these planning stages play out. I have to hand it to this show as far as filler is concerned, because it doesn’t lose its mind and show us scenes from another drama when it’s stalling for time—rather, it just chooses to focus on the “before” stages of an “after” we know we’re going to get. Delayed payoff is better than no payoff at all, I say.
If all that sounds like an excuse, it’s because it kind of is, mostly because I like Triangle enough to give it some leeway when it comes to slipping back into old habits. In this case, that habit happens to be sitting everyone down in different rooms while they speak vaguely about planning a much larger plan in the future. Young-dal’s plan to net a deal with that lending group in Macau was about the only plan I understood clearly, since everyone else is telepathic and can get by without explaining the details. That’s all fine and well, but we need those details—and if you’re going to spend so much time talking about things instead of doing things, it’d really be nice if we at least knew what those things are.
Again though, an argument could be made that the show is deliberately withholding those mysteries from us, which I’d have to grudgingly buy. At least there’s more good than bad to focus on when it comes to character moments, even though I’d have to put Young-dal and Jung-hee’s talk/after-talk-back-hug at the top of the list. Jung-hee doesn’t get a lot of moments, but she uses the ones she has, and I love that she flies in the face of normal heroine convention by being outspoken without being obnoxious and up front about her feelings instead of constantly bickering like a child who doesn’t know what love even means.

So the fact that Jung-hee rejected Young-dal’s rejection last episode and then confronted him about her feelings this episode feels so unnatural to what we’re used to seeing, but in the best of ways. It’s absolutely amazing that she’s so honest with Young-dal, because we know that she understands and wants to be with him regardless of his own personal issues. But in that scene she wanted him to give her a sign that he’s heard her or cares, which is why that back hug had meaning rather than being relegated to just being fanservice.
It had worried me when Young-dal was being so silent at first, because he’s not as in tune with his feelings as she is and can only be up front with Jung-hee about his guilt. The fact that he doesn’t want to drag her down with him is proof enough of his own devotion, but that scene was a make or break moment for him in that she was asking for a sign, any sign, that her continuing to wait for him wouldn’t be pointless. And she seemed ready to walk if Young-dal didn’t throw her a bone, so the fact that he held her when he could’ve just let her walk spoke volumes about how he really feels.
Jung-hee’s feelings toward Yang-ha are a little more ambiguous, and while I doubt there’s any kind of romantic connection lodged anywhere in her psyche, I do think she feels a certain amount of pity for him. Heck, even I pity him for having such a crappy father, because I can’t understand how Chairman Yoon’s actions make sense in any universe. If he was so dead set on adopting a son to raise as his heir only to kick him out at the first sign of weakness, why didn’t he insure himself against having a tool with no loyalty take over by, I dunno, adopting more than one child to exploit? I just don’t buy his constant threats to disown Yang-ha when his only other option is Director Hyun—and if he’s gotten as far as he has on business savvy and sense, he can’t be that stupid, right? Then again, if he knowingly adopted the son of a man he had killed and didn’t think that might eventually come back to bite him, he probably deserves whatever’s coming his way.

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