Friday, August 29, 2014

Triangle: Episode 4

We delve a little more into the collective pasts of our star-crossed brothers as our hero turns abduction into an art form, leaving big bro Dong-soo to do the saving while the baby of the three deals with some major adoptive daddy issues. Poor Young-dal stole more than just money, that’s for sure—but it’s going to take a lot more than a few near-death experiences and a brush with the law to make him realize it. For his sake, let’s hope that comes sooner rather than later.
Soyu & Mad Clown – “Stupid Love” [ Download ]


Young-dal escapes the casino raid with Jung-hee, stopping only to beat down a few cops in their way. Once they’re out of dodge and out of breath, Jung-hee thanks him.
Any further conversation is cut short when a group of thugs surround Young-dal, and after commenting that tonight is just not his night, Young-dal takes them on single-handedly. Jung-hee watches the fight in muffled shock.
Meanwhile, Dong-soo continues telling his heartbreaking story to Shin-hye. His eyes grow distant as he recalls being sent to the orphanage with his two younger brothers, and how he always protected them from bullies and starvation.

He flashes back to the memories as he tells them, even as he goes on to describe how he’d sneak out of the orphanage at night to steal and sell scrap metal from the mines so that Dong-woo (Yang-ha) would have baby formula and Dong-chul (Young-dal) would have the bread he liked to eat.
But once he figured out that the police were onto him, he left his two younger brothers with a tearful promise that he’d return. When he did two weeks later, both his brothers were gone—the youngest was adopted, while middle bro ran away.
And though he’s spent fourteen years looking, he’s never been able to find them. “To this day,” Dong-soo says with a heavy sigh, “I’ve been tortured with the knowledge that I wasn’t able to protect my little brothers.”

The session is interrupted when Dong-soo gets a call from Young-dal, who’s in a bad way. He’s been stabbed and left for dead, and can only eke out a desperate plea for Dong-soo’s help before he falls unconscious.
Dong-soo is left helpless on the other end of the line going, “Where are you? Where are you right now?” But his questions fall on deaf ears. Eek. GPS tracking, now!
Yang-ha drinks casually as a lounge singer croons the lyrics to the song “Broken Promises” he and his brothers know all too well. Have we returned to the Yang-ha we saw at the beginning of Episode 1?

He shares a drink with the lounge singer, even though the song has stirred a strange feeling of deja vu—even though he’s sure that this was the first time he’s ever heard it.
While Jung-hee grows concerned when she doesn’t find Young-dal in his rented room, Young-dal slowly regains consciousness. Since his phone is dead and his side is still bleeding heavily, he has no choice but to climb the endless staircase leading to his old HQ.
After inspecting a new herd of gangster recruits, Chairman Go sits down to talk about the logistics of his plan to get a piece of that huge resort deal on Yeonjongdo Island. The only thing standing in his way is Yang-ha’s father, Chairman Yoon.

Jung-hee asks Jang-soo if he’s seen Young-dal lately, explaining that he never came home last night. Jang-soo is suspicious that Jung-hee’s concern means that she has feelings for Young-dal, but seems relieved when she flatly denies it. Aw, does someone have a crush?
While Dong-soo has his entire team looking for Young-dal in Sabuk, Jung-hee tells Jang-soo about the men who were after Young-dal the night before. As concerned as he is, Jang-soo stops her from calling the police…

…Which is when their local detective buddy finds them. He’s been sent by Dong-soo to find Young-dal, and ends up dragging a reticent Jang-soo to the detective task force in order to get him to talk.
Even when Dong-soo tells him that Young-dal could be in big trouble if they don’t find him, Jang-soo still claims he doesn’t know where his friend is. It’s not untrue, but he could at least start by mentioning Young-dal’s usual hangout spots.
Chairman Go happens to be driving by Dong-soo’s gathering and stops just to wheedle his rival. Dong-soo has to be held back from clocking him one, and Chairman Go eventually leaves—but he’s curious, and nervous, about Dong-soo’s presence in Sabuk.

The local detective recognizes Chairman Go as a notorious gangster from the old days, one who was hired as a scummy strikebreaker to deal with protesting miners.
That’s when Dong-soo and the local detective learn that they have a common past: both their fathers were miners in the same town. Maybe they knew each other.
After fretting over what to do about Dong-soo snooping around, Jang-soo finally remembers their HQ. He heads there with his jailbreak buddy to find Young-dal barely conscious and covered in sweat, but he still refuses to call a hospital, since he’s worried that the men who did this to Young-dal are the same ones who killed Do Ki-chan—which means they could come back to finish the job.

In order to circumvent going to the hospital, Jang-soo enlists the help of a former doctor who lost himself in his gambling addiction, and one who’s willing to take the money Jang-soo offers. (Is he the same beggar Madame Jang and her lackey came across?)
Dong-soo continues his search for Young-dal, using the reason that he’s essential to solving the Do Ki-chan murder case. That’s when his boss calls with some new intel: Do Ki-chan had a partner in crime named Lee Jung-soo, who they’re sure was behind the murder since Do Ki-chan kept the money they made illegally.

Even though Dong-soo questions how Lee Jung-soo could be responsible if he can’t even re-enter the country after fleeing to the Philippines, his boss claims that he used his yakuza connections to get the deed done.
Speaking of yakuza connections, we find Chairman Go conspiring with a shady Japanese man named Watanabe about an “issue” Watanabe hasn’t been able to take care of yet.
Cut to: Young-dal waking up with fresh bandages covering his stab wound. Jang-soo and Jailbreak tell him that cops have been looking everywhere for him like it’s a bad thing, only to be taken aback when Young-dal admits that he called them.

When asked why, Young-dal says it’s because the guys who tried to kill him are the same ones who killed Do Ki-chan—and he knows when he’s in above his head.
Asking the police for help doesn’t mean he has to tell them about the money though, something that Young-dal has no plans to do: “There’s no turning back now. I’ll lose the money and my life if I don’t stand up and fight.”
Yang-ha’s father shows his son the future site of the casino resort he plans to build while refusing to heed Yang-ha’s warning that it’s a reckless gamble when they’re not even sure about their foreign investors yet.

But Chairman Yoon thinks differently, and compares himself to American casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who gained his extreme wealth by taking risks. Chairman Yoon thinks that he can do the same if he’s willing to gamble.
“Was my adoption a gamble for you?” Yang-ha asks, taking his father by surprise. He couldn’t care less about his father’s business dealings when he blames him for being an absentee dad—Yang-ha’s childhood only existed so he could be groomed as his father’s heir.
He adds that he won’t be like his father and fight unless he knows he can win, and that he won’t resort to reckless methods to win an equally reckless battle. His father just sighs after Yang-ha storms off: “Taking on that boy as my son was the biggest gamble of my life. But I still don’t know how the game is going to end.”

It’s cute how Grandma is so pro-Young-dal, since she wonders where that handsome young man is during dinner. Jung-hee’s little brothers squeal on the fact that she’s been hovering around Young-dal’s door all day, causing her to storm off when they accuse her of liking him.
But the truth is that Jung-hee is worried about Young-dal, since he was vastly outnumbered in a fight the last time she saw him.

We find a weakened Young-dal heading who-knows-where in the city, when he’s again apprehended by a group of thugs. He’s in no condition to fight, which they take as a sign to beat the living crap out of him.
Jailbreak watches as the men drag Young-dal away and calls Jang-soo, who runs into the police station for help.
Dong-soo and the local Detective Gook figure out that they went to the same elementary school together, which makes Detective Gook the sunbae even though Dong-soo’s in a higher job position.

The subject turns to Chairman Go and his former affiliation with Chairman Yoon (Yang-ha’s dad), who used to own the coal mines in Sabuk. He’s the one who hired then-gangster Chairman Go to beat any protesting coal miners into submission. Dong-soo has more to ask about Chairman Go’s past, but is interrupted when his team calls him about Young-dal.
Young-dal has been dragged by the yakuza thugs into an abandoned warehouse (official sponsor for all gang-related activities since 1576), where he’s beaten some more.
Watanabe arrives to ask him where the money is, but when Young-dal feigns ignorance, Watanabe rolls up his sleeves to get to the beatin’. Oh come on, can’t you leave the moneymaker alone?

Luckily, Young-dal is saved by the arrival of Team Dong-soo (sans Dong-soo), who waste no time in laying down the law with their fists while Watanabe casually takes a seat to watch.
And when Watanabe finally does join the fray, it’s to single-handedly take down the whole team. Dong-soo arrives in time to see his team on the ground, and doesn’t waver as the much-bigger Watanabe rushes him…

…Because he downs the white-clad caveman with a taser. Ha. Why didn’t anyone try this sooner?
Jang-soo and Jailbreak watch covertly as all the gangsters are arrested, with Dong-soo taking special care to all but carry Young-dal to the squad car. Jang-soo: “We have to wait and see if Heo Young-dal is going to win the biggest gamble of his life.”
Madame Jang goes on a warpath against the woman who ratted her out, but she only gets slapped for her troubles—her rival has a powerful gangster husband and way more gangster lackeys than her.

It turns out that Chairman Go is just as bad at gambling as Young-dal, only he doesn’t take any risks when he hears that the men he had in Watanabe’s posse were arrested. He wants them silenced permanently.
Team Dong-soo has been up all night with all the arrests, and since Dong-soo is too busy to go to the smarmy ajumma’s restaurant, he makes the smarmy ajumma come to the station to deliver. Haha.

In the interrogation room with Young-dal, Dong-soo warns him to tell the truth, with the subtle threat that he’ll hurt him if he doesn’t. But his tough facade fades away momentarily when he asks Young-dal how his stab wound’s faring. D’aww.
Then it’s business time: he’s sure Young-dal knows where Do Ki-chan’s money is, because there’d be no other reason for Lee Jung-soo’s men to be hunting him down otherwise.
Dong-soo sees through Young-dal’s lies about not having the money, and shit gets serious when Dong-soo pulls his gun on Young-dal to demand the truth.

A moment passes where Young-dal weighs his options, but instead of just fessing up, he calls Dong-soo on his bluff by claiming that if he really did have the money, he wouldn’t be living the low-rate life he is now.
Young-dal is spared for now, since Dong-soo admits to Shin-hye that he doesn’t know whether the little scamp is lying or not. Kang Jin sends a Look their way as Shin-hye agrees to take a stab at the interrogation.
She plays the good cop as she asks Young-dal about his past, since Team Dong-soo has been unable to find any records on him. Young-dal attributes the lack of official documentation to the fact that he never went to school—a truth that catches Shin-hye by surprise.

To his credit, Young-dal recalls his sad past with emotional detachment as he details how he grew up as a homeless beggar and how, when he grew too old to beg, he turned to pickpocketing. Because he’d keep ending up in a prison for juveniles, he never got to go to school.
He picks up on Shin-hye’s unease at the fact that he grew up without an education and adds, “There are a lot more scoundrels like me out there than you’d think.”
He also doesn’t remember his family, but when Shin-hye asks how he ended up in Sabuk, his whole demeanor changes as he recalls his first trip to the casino there. His eyes light up as he talks about his love for gambling, and how he prefers it to drinking and even (gasp!) women.

Shin-hye has only to barely bait him in order to get him to willingly tell her all about his dream of becoming the world champion at hold ‘em, though it’s hard to tell whether she’s being truthful when she claims she had a friend who played in the Vegas world championships. Young-dal is killing me with how excitedly he talks about the game. My heart just breaks for him.
Shin-hye has to then break it to Dong-soo that even she can’t tell whether Young-dal is lying or not, because it’s hard to get a read on him. But if she knows nothing else (and she doesn’t), she knows that Young-dal calling Dong-soo when his life was in danger says something about the way he looks up to Dong-soo.

Young-dal is released, and he smirks as he tells an excited Jang-soo that he fought the law and the law lost. They rejoice, along with Jailbreak. (Seriously, who is this guy supposed to be and why is he here?)
Jung-hee gets her big break to become a dealer at a legitimate casino, and skips home to find Young-dal occupying his room again. She thanks him for getting her away from the raid the other night, and he turns so sheepish that it’s a surprise he can talk at all.

It’s cute that she tells him about her new job, and that he congratulates her even though it means he won’t be seeing her at Madame Jang’s casino anymore. He only gets to see her at home every day now, so I can see where he’s totally devastated.
Jung-hee wakes up late for job training the next morning, and ends up waking an even later riser, Young-dal, to ask if he can drive her to work on his motorcycle. He groggily agrees.
The two share a moment on their romantic morning drive before Jung-hee has to hustle into the casino. Her boss is less than enthused that she’s late and orders her, along with a fellow employee, to get changed for job training.

Imagine her surprise when that trainee turns out to be none other than Yang-ha. Which, what? What’s he doing getting a job like a plebeian?
Young-dal’s forced to detour on his drive home by two clown cars filled with thugs… who are there to kidnap him. Again.
They take him to a site where they’ve also got Jang-soo and Jailbreak, and at least spare Young-dal from an instant beating because the boss, Chairman Go, wants to have a chat.

Really? I know Young-dal’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but are you seriously going to play this like he forgot that he’s a wanted man? Granted, the bad guys after him are of the most incompetent sort and have been sending some pretty mixed signals, but still. I like the characters enough to overlook a few ill-fitting story details, but if the plot as it stands were made into a bucket, it’d be so riddled with holes that the water of our viewing pleasure would pass through it like a faucet. Was that analogy too complicated? Probably. But the point still stands: Triangle, you’ve had four episodes, now pull yourself together.
The thing is, it makes sense that Young-dal would have a lot of people after him once they suspected him of stealing the money. It’s the way that the show went about it that left a lot of questions in the air, like why the baddies would risk almost killing him before getting an answer, why they could follow Young-dal like he had a GPS tracker on while Dong-soo and his team of detectives couldn’t even get a clue, why Young-dal thought his problems were over once he fooled the police, etc. At least now that there’s a definitive face behind the endless army of suited thugs, their appearance en masse will hopefully start to mean more than just a bad day for Young-dal—if we’re going to keep on beating the record for most abductions per episode, anyway.
Speaking of bad days for Young-dal, if it’s already painful to see him in pain, then I’m doomed, aren’t I? I had wondered before if Young-dal’s growing appeal as a dimwit was a calculated move or just a side effect of Jaejoong’s puppy eyes, but his flat admission that he never went to school was so perfectly timed and well in-tune with the aspects of his character we’ve seen so far. I could go on to mention how Yang-ha’s outburst with his father spoke volumes about the life he’s led, or how heartwarming it is that Dong-soo’s brotherly instincts kick in when he’s around Young-dal (the whole gun thing notwithstanding)—or I could just admit the simple truth that I love Young-dal as a hero, serious character flaws and all.
In fact, the empathy I feel for him seems directly relative to the amount of flaws he displays at any given time, which I’d usually call out as especially weird behavior if that wasn’t the entire point of his character. Or maybe the surge of Young-dal love is relative only to my weariness, because after a slew of middling shows with emotionally inaccessible heroes, having one who wears his heart and his single-sentence-or-less thoughts on his sleeve feels like winning the character jackpot.


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