Friday, August 29, 2014

Triangle: Episode 2

Our foolhardy hero solidifies his role as a living gambling addiction commercial as he goes through hell and a little humiliation to bet it all and hopefully win it all, to mixed results. As we find out more about what makes Young-dal tick, the world that kept the three lost brothers apart grows steadily smaller and more intimate. There’s no doubt that they’re headed on a crash course for each other, even though something tells me that a tearful family reunion couldn’t be any further away.
Trouble Maker – “내일은 없어 (Now)” [ Download ]


After Jung-hee and Dong-soo get treated to the sight of Young-dal running for his life in his skivvies, we find him and his lady friend roughed up next to an open grave prepared especially for them by her cuckolded husband.
It’s the same man who was at Young-dal’s gambling table before, and even though he knows the young scamp well, he’s not about to show him mercy. Young-dal desperately pleads for his life to be spared, but ends up getting kicked into the grave anyway.
Young-dal keeps trying to scramble out of the hole even as the thugs start to bury him alive, but is saved when his local detective friend shows up.

Even though he’s covered in dirt and barely dressed, Young-dal is taken to meet Dong-soo. The two men are introduced as strangers, and Dong-soo gets right to the point: he wants Young-dal to act as an informant for him.
Young-dal’s immediate reaction is to decline—he knows that if he were to be discovered by the loan sharks he’s meant to spy on, he’ll end up stabbed.
Dong-soo gives him an uncomfortable smile as he adds a subtle threat that he can be much more frightening than knives, which gives Young-dal no choice but to reluctantly accept.

Since being back in his hometown stirs up old and painful memories, Dong-soo stops to pay his respects at the rock quarry where he once spread his father’s ashes, along with his two baby brothers.
Meanwhile, Young-dal is too busy feeling humiliated that the pretty casino greeter, Jung-hee, saw him running around town in bright red boxers to notice that buddy Jang-soo has joined him at the sauna.
At least Jang-soo has good news—while word has spread fast of Young-dal’s illicit love affair, his lady friend is the only one getting a bad rap from it.

However, Jang-soo’s demeanor turns serious when Young-dal asks him about Jung-hee, since it means his playboy friend is interested in her. He warns Young-dal in no kind words against laying a finger on a good girl like her, especially since she’s the sole breadwinner for her two younger brothers and grandmother, because both her parents are dead.
And Young-dal’s reaction to all that sad stuff is that he wants her even more now, and vows to make her his within the month. Before Jang-soo completely loses it, Young-dal reassures him that he was only joking. (Orrrr was he?)
Speaking of, Jung-hee tries proving herself as a potential dealer to one of her work unnis (a job she previously wasn’t good enough for), though she can’t help but ask if her friend knows Young-dal.

She does, but she couldn’t be more firm about warning Jung-hee away from a troublemaker like him. Maybe she’d be the type to listen to advice, but it becomes clear that Young-dal isn’t, since he makes a stop that night just to watch Jung-hee work from afar.
Chairman Go invites his self-proclaimed nemesis Dong-soo to a casual dinner in an attempt to call a cease fire to the war going on between them. Dong-soo accepts the drinks but not Chairman Go’s bullshit, as he goes into this long speech about why he’s a legitimate businessman and not the criminal Dong-soo thinks he is.

But when Dong-soo doesn’t buy it and opts to leave, Chairman Go resorts to threatening and blackmail: he has a file on Dong-soo’s life, including his friends and coworkers, and what looks like evidence that his cop buddies have been accepting underhand deals. Huh. Does this mean Dong-soo is corrupt too?
Young-dal has no luck trying to get his ban lifted at the fancy casino, and frets about how he’ll replenish the money he stole if he can’t bet big at a bigger casino.

Then an idea strikes—he can pretend to take up Dong-soo’s offer to become his informant in order to get Dong-soo to use his muscle to lift the ban. After all, he can’t get the intel Dong-soo wants if he can’t mingle with the bad guys.
Dong-soo promises to do what he can, while Young-dal pats himself on the back for a sucker well fooled. And in the end the tactic works, since Young-dal is allowed back into the casino.

Meanwhile, Jung-hee asks for an extension on paying back her overdue debt from Boss Yang, the small-time moneylender who happens to be Young-dal and Jang-soo’s employer.
At least he grants her a small reprieve, which is when Madame Jang finds them. Since she thinks she can make a buck off Jung-hee’s beauty and financial vulnerability, she takes on Jung-hee’s debt in order to lord power over her.
At the casino, Young-dal loses his first round of baccarat. Because he’s never one to bet safe, he ignores Jang-soo’s advice and decides to go all in for the next round, which means it’s now or never…

Cut to: Young-dal and Jang-soo leaving the casino with their heads down. Aw, they lost? While Young-dal is disappointed and low on funds, he equates himself to the great General Lee Soon-shin, who beat the odds in battle when his resources were few. Young-dal plans to do the same.
Jung-hee tries to scold her littlest brother Byung-soo against getting low grades in school, though her plan backfires when Byung-soo argues that he doesn’t need advice from a sister who constantly ranked lowest in her studies. Even Grandma agrees, hah.
Dinner is interrupted when Madame Jang pays a surprise visit in order to take a bewildered Jung-hee out for a chat. It’s there that Madame Jang shows that the deed to Jung-hee’s house (which she had to give to Boss Yang as collateral) is now hers.

And if Jung-hee doesn’t pay her debt back by next week, Madame Jang promises to seize her house. Jung-hee turns frantic, since there’s no way she can spontaneously sprout money by next week, which is when Madame Jang offers her an out (and in banmal, too): if Jung-hee comes to work for her, then she’ll forget about the money.
Jung-hee knows that Madame Jang’s underground casino is illegal, but the deal is too good to pass up on. If she becomes a dealer, not only will she earn three times what her old job paid, she’ll get enough tips to pay off her debt in three months. Will she take the deal?
So it turns out Shin-hye didn’t quite tell Dong-soo the truth when he asked about her husband, since we find the couple meeting formally only because they’re separated.

Her husband, HYUN PIL-SANG (Jang Dong-jik), gives her a necklace from his last business trip, and uncomfortably asks how much longer they’re to remain in relationship limbo, because they’ve been separated for two years and he’s tired of lying about it. He wants them to reconcile, but Shin-hye seems much more reluctant.
Shin-hye then goes to visit her father, Police Chief Hwang, who’s also been kept in the dark about the true state of her marriage. It seems hard on her to keep such a secret from him too, especially after he has a few drinks and sings her praises on becoming the police force’s top criminal profiler—not to mention marrying a good man.
She casts her eyes down uncomfortably every time her husband is mentioned, which makes it all the more bittersweet when her drunken father asks if she can do just one more thing: give him a grandchild. Aww.

After putting her father to bed, Shin-hye visits her old room and stares fondly at a picture of her and Dong-soo as children.
Dong-soo, meanwhile, stares at the very same picture and lets out a longing sigh before he spends the rest of the night brooding.
We find Chairman Go at an equestrian club for the super elite, where he meets a frightened-looking politician who he once helped to get elected. Now he’s trying to cash in on that favor, but Assemblyman Kim seems more keen on brushing Chairman Go off as long as possible.

In an unexpected twist, Chairman Go meets with Shin-hye’s husband, a long-time business associate whom he refers to as Director Hyun. When Chairman Go mentions that business isn’t so great these days, Director Hyun tells him about an upcoming deal between his group and what sounds like SeaWorld to create a luxury resort and casino on Yeonjongdo Island.
The projected profit margin is in the billions, and Chairman Go wants in. Fortunately (or not), Director Hyun is all too willing to help.
Jang-soo finds Young-dal watching a world championship poker tournament—something Young-dal does as often as he can. He knows everything about the game, and goes starry-eyed as he describes how the event is televised each year in the United States.

The best part? The jackpot is ten million dollars, which translates to an insane amount of Korean won. While Jang-soo dreams about all the things that kind of money could buy, Young-dal somberly adds, “It’s not just the money. You become an international star. Entering that competition is my dream.” Aw.
Even Jang-soo’s surprised that the great Heo Young-dal has a dream, which is a reaction Young-dal seems weary of hearing. “Even if everyone in this town calls me a thug or a piece of trash, I have a dream of my own. You just wait and see, I’m going to enter that competition and become the champion.”
Shin-hye is called to look at a crime scene the next day, and while the police seem to think that the dead prisoner committed suicide by hanging himself, Shin-hye thinks it was murder and points out all the logistical reasons why.

News of the crime scene reaches Dong-soo’s team, though they’re more preoccupied with having fun. Dong-soo is the only one not interested in their reindeer games, and it’s funny how Kang Jin and the guys are so used to Dong-soo angrily chucking things at them that their dodge reflex is just instinctual now.
Dong-soo’s boss brings Shin-hye to the office, and introduces her to Dong-soo as part of the Forensic Crime Unit. But she stops Dong-soo’s boss from going further into the introductions as she explains that she knows Dong-soo well.
And when he’s asked how he and Shin-hye know each other, Dong-soo just says that it’s too long of a story. Regardless, his boss tells him that his team is needed for the recent murder case, since the dead man was busted by them only a year ago. (I could be wrong, but it seems like this is/was the boss whose buried money Young-dal borrowed stole.)

Once they’re alone, Dong-soo asks Shin-hye what she ended up telling the internal affairs bureau about him, and is relieved when she admits that she didn’t say anything about him needing psychiatric treatment.
But she doesn’t hesitate to remind him that he still requires treatment—and if he doesn’t feel comfortable allowing her to do it, she’ll find him a doctor who can. Plus, she’ll keep it a secret from the bureau.
Madame Jang calls Young-dal to her casino to play against a mysteriously wealthy new gambler in a game of poker. The player is none other than Yoon Yang-ha, the youngest of the three brothers, and the fact that he keeps winning is making The House uncomfortable.

Just to play things safe, Madame Jang decides to switch out the dealer at Yang-ha’s table just as Young-dal buys into the game. As fate would have it, the new dealer turns out to be Jung-hee.
She doesn’t look up to recognize the boys, but Jang-soo and Young-dal obviously recognize her. She also catches the interest of the aloof Yang-ha, who can’t help but smile as he studies her face.
While Dong-soo and his team eat at the smarmy ajumma’s restaurant, one of his detectives reports new findings on their murder case: Dong-soo’s informant in Sabuk, Young-dal, paid multiple visits to the victim in prison.

It’s been two hours at the poker table, and Young-dal hasn’t been very lucky. He wonders to himself whether he’s been losing because of Yang-ha’s skill, or because he got thrown off by Jung-hee’s sudden appearance. Whatever the case, the honeymoon phase is now over between them. She done messed with this gambling luck.
Young-dal throws more chips in the pot to “race” Yang-ha’s bet, which earns an arrogant chuckle out of the younger man. Yang-ha can’t hold it in anymore and corrects Young-dal at the table, since he’s been saying “race” instead of “raise” the entire game. Aww, how mean.
Poor Young-dal hides his humiliation (especially in front of Jung-hee) and brings everyone’s attention back to the game. Both he and Yang-ha keep raising each other’s bets, now stuck in a personal competition, even though Young-dal thinks he has the upper hand. Then again, he’s been wrong before.

When Yang-ha declines to make any further bets, Young-dal assumes it’s because he doesn’t have a good hand and decides to go all in… which plays exactly into Yang-ha’s plan.
He calls Young-dal on his bet, which means he is confident about his hand—he just bluffed so that Young-dal would bet all his money. And even though Yang-ha’s pair doesn’t amount to much, Young-dal is forced to fold. He was bluffing the whole time, and he lost.
With no money left, Young-dal has to leave the casino. But his noir film inner monologue rolls on to say how he could feel Jung-hee’s eyes on the back of his head, along with his own humiliation.

Madame Jang pays Jung-hee for the night, but surprises her new employee with a task not originally in her job description—she’s being paid extra because Yang-ha wants her to go out for drinks with him. She reassures Jung-hee that no prostitution is involved, but the girl seems unconvinced.
Yang-ha does end up waiting outside the casino for her in a very expensive car, but Jung-hee shuts him down quickly by saying that she doesn’t meet with customers outside of work.
And then Yang-ha does the unexpected by respecting her decision, even if he’s extra flippant about it. He drives off just like that, leaving a slightly bewildered Jung-hee behind.

Jang-soo is fuhreaking out about how they’re going to replace the money they stole now that they’ve blown it all, to which Young-dal replies that they can just take even more money to win it all back. Oy vey.
Young-dal’s local detective buddy has been looking for him to ask about his prison visits with his big boss, Do Ki-chan. Mostly, he wants to know whether Young-dal saw any red flags that would’ve led to Ki-chan’s suicide.

Young-dal’s eyes grow wide when he hears that he now owes money to a ghost. He does a terrible job of hiding his excitement as he asks over and over again whether Do Ki-chan is really dead and not that kind of horror-movie dead where they get back up again. Haha.
He’s ecstatic as he tells Jang-soo the news, because it means that all the money they didn’t steal is now theirs. Poor Young-dal is even relieved, since he doesn’t have to worry about paying back what he didn’t have.

Jang-soo calls him out on being too happy over their boss’ death, a moral quandary that Young-dal pushes aside as fast as he can with a hasty explanation that no amount of sadness can bring the dead back. Besides, they’ve got lives to live.
The other warning Young-dal chooses to ignore is that the money didn’t belong to Do Ki-chan, but to some men in the Philippines. He’s not worried though, since he’s sure wanted men would never be able to get into Korea anyway. He’s right. What could ever go wrong?
At least it’s only after they dig up and take the money that a mysterious man comes upon the ransacked site. Uh oh.
The boys then haul the huge bags of dough up to their hideout, and lose the ability to contain themselves when they get their hands on the bills. “We’re rich, Jang-soo!” Young-dal all but screams, as they throw what must be millions and millions of dollars up into the air. “We’re rich!”

Awww. With all the geniuses running around dramaland lately, it’s easy to lose sight of the plight of the middle man, the kind who can’t execute a meticulously planned, multi-generational takedown of the status quo because he’s honestly just not smart enough.
And you know what? That’s okay. It’s actually refreshing to have a lead character who doesn’t have all the right answers all the time (or ever), who’s reckless to the point of insanity, and so fixated on his dream that he refuses to let himself stop and think long enough lest he end up talking himself out of it. Young-dal makes it a point to tamp down unsavory emotions in favor of what makes him happier—though whether he knows he’s intentionally fooling himself or not is anyone’s guess.
Up until the moment where he stared starry-eyed at a world championship poker tournament, I couldn’t quite get a read on Young-dal. Was he supposed to just be young and wild? Completely carefree and stupid? It’s amazing how relatable someone becomes once you know what they want—and Young-dal, like most of us, just wants to be known for something. He just happened to pick a dream that requires an ability he doesn’t seem to possess. No big deal.
More than anything though, my curiosity is piqued to know what exactly tore our three brothers apart to the point where they completely forgot each other. Young-dal and the even younger Yang-ha I can maybe understand, but Dong-soo seems old enough to remember. Even if both parents died tragically, wouldn’t the brothers remember being separated into different homes? It’ll be interesting to see how the trio’s relationships as strangers develops, because if they each inherited only one common trait, it’d probably be mental instability. And okay, maybe their exceptionally good looks. But mostly the crazy.

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