Friday, August 29, 2014

Triangle: Episode 6

There’s a noticeable shift this hour as our perceptions of each brother are put to the test, which means that Young-dal’s moral compass gets to point to an even grayer area as he contemplates doing the unthinkable in order to succeed at being a professional bad guy. Even if his new dream seems to be playing second fiddle to the show’s Big Bad, Young-dal isn’t without his own resources, since he chooses to spend his down time forming a small army of cultishly devoted gangsters—at least when he’s not making a certain special piece of unfrosted vanilla cake feel better about her day.
Triangle has seen a downward trend recently as far as numbers go, dropping from last episode’s 7.3% to 6.8%.

Sister’s Barbershop – “가장 보통의 존재 (Most Average Existence)” [ Download ]


After Dong-soo tears into Chairman Go about tarnishing Chief Hwang’s reputation, Chairman Go sneers back that if Dong-soo felt like it was so wrong, he should’ve rejected Chief Hwang’s request to drop the case.
But because he didn’t, Chairman Go smiles as he adds that Dong-soo is just as responsible for Chief Hwang’s dishonor as he is: “We’re partners in crime.”
Understandably, Dong-soo fumes while Chairman Go laughs maniacally that he’s not afraid of Dong-soo’s rage—because if he’s learned anything in life, it’s to not be afraid of the man who says “I’ll get you next time.” Aka Dong-soo.

Before he leaves, Chairman Go tells Young-dal to think on his offer, which leaves Young-dal in a pretty awkward predicament now that he’s alone with the man he’s been told to kill.
At least he manages to fool Dong-soo by claiming that the only reason he was with Chairman Go was to perform his police informant duties. Yeah right.
Dong-soo takes Young-dal out for meat and soju (a man after my own heart), but offends Young-dal when he says that he’s feeding him meat because he finds him pitiful. Aww, it’s ‘cause he cares.

I love that the two end up bickering once Young-dal defends himself as having a meat-filled life without Dong-soo, thank you very much.
Dong-soo knows this is just how Young-dal is, and exasperatedly admits that he’s taking him out just because he feels bad for making him an informant, to which Young-dal snaps back that a few pieces of meat aren’t enough to pay for that.
So when Dong-soo honestly offers to pay him in dollar bills, Young-dal feels bad and waves him off, catching himself before calling Dong-soo by the derivative slur “pig” when he says that he can’t take money from a cop.

The conversation turns to Young-dal’s past, and how much he doesn’t know about the life he led before he started begging on the streets. He then recounts a sad tale of being bullied into begging and being forced to huff glue to make his eyes shiny in order to earn more money.
When it’s Young-dal’s turn, he asks Dong-soo why he wants to lock Chairman Go away so badly. Dong-soo’s eyes grow distant and narrow as hate seeps into his every word: “That bastard, Go Bok-tae, is the epitome of evil to me. He’s a hundred, no, a thousand times worse than the guy who made you beg on the streets.”

He goes on to recall how two of his colleagues were killed in his first attempt to go after Chairman Go, back when Go was just a thug causing trouble at protest sites. What’s worse is that Go then went on to use his gangsters to steal from the poorest and weakest members of society.
“And now he gets to be called Chairman,” Dong-soo seethes. “When I think about living and breathing underneath the same sky as that piece of garbage, I feel suffocated and sick to my stomach.”
Dong-soo and Young-dal are pretty schmasted at this point, so Dong-soo takes him to his humble home for more drinks. Hah. He pours the younger man a drink as he explains that he’s always considered his informants his family. “You’re part of my family from now on. Understand?”

Young-dal scoffs: “I don’t want you to be the first family I’ve wished for my whole life. I’d rather just be your informant.” Haha.
The two continue their bickering and one-upmanship as Young-dal comments on the shabbiness of Dong-soo’s house and his bachelor status—and when Dong-soo tries arguing that Young-dal doesn’t have a right to comment when he’s been fooling around with a married woman, Young-dal’s all, Yeah, but that actually takes skill.
Young-dal covers Dong-soo with his coat after he passes out snoring, and continues to drink alone. He heaves a heavy sigh as he thinks back to Chairman Go’s Faustian bargain to kill Dong-soo for a spot at his table.

After an unsuccessful attempt to borrow money from Boss Yang, Jung-hee goes to Madame Jang’s in order to ask for more time to pay back the loan… only to find out that her debt’s already been paid anonymously.
She’s able to put two and two together to figure out that it was Yang-ha, and surprisingly subverts the poor-girl-with-too-much-pride trope by thanking him for helping her out.
Whatever his reasons were, she promises to pay him back for his kindness, leaving Yang-ha smiling in her wake.

It’s cute that Grandma noticed that Young-dal didn’t come home last night, and even cuter that he thought to bring pork belly home for them. Grandma makes sure to talk Young-dal up when Jung-hee gets home, if only because his bashful meat-giving ways remind her of Jung-hee’s dad. D’aww.
Jung-hee finds Young-dal making himself ramen, and leaves him grinning like a fool when she offers to bring him a real meal as a show of her gratitude for the other day.
Young-dal looks happy enough to cry when she leaves him with a table full of Grandma’s home made dishes. “Jang Dong-soo,” he clucks to himself. “How is being an informant being family? This is what family is.” I can’t remember the last time (if ever) I saw a hero eat a home cooked meal without sobbing into his rice bowl.

However, Young-dal’s not so tolerant when he finds his gangster crew barbecuing (is this episode a running commercial for grilled meat?), and knocks the grill over so that they all stand at attention. Only Jang-soo is spared from joining the line—Jailbreak hasn’t earned enough friendship points yet.
Young-dal berates the men for having fun when they’re here to go through a Fight Club-esque Gangster Boot Camp, which means that they’ll be eating literal dog food for the duration of their training. (The first rule of Boot Camp is…)
Then it’s time for a montage as the trainees endure all kinds of athletic training to become the most physically fit gangsters. At the same time, Jung-hee and Yang-ha go through their own training, and the montage ends with Young-dal’s crew running up a mountain, Rocky style. I’ma be honest: I really don’t get how this is supposed to make them the Best Gang ever.

Dong-soo has to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau again, this time regarding the sudden closing of the Chungjin Construction case. They actually suspect him of working in conjunction with Chairman Go all these years in order to make it look like he was chasing him when really, he was just protecting him from the law.
Dong-soo takes serious offense to these allegations, especially when the bureau officer brings up the disparity between Dong-soo’s income level versus the designer clothes he wears. In the end, his outrage is enough to convince the officer that he has no warm feelings for his mortal enemy.
Speaking of, an unknown source informs Chairman Go and his top minion of Dong-soo’s internal investigation, which the minion latches onto as the perfect time for Chairman Go to get Dong-soo kicked out of the force.

Chairman Go decides to use Young-dal for the task, who we find sharing a celebratory drink with his crew now that training is complete. He raises his glass as he tells his men that their days of eating dog food are over—now it’ll be beef and chicken (again with the meat), because they’re taking over the city of Sabuk.
One of the boys asks whether they’ll follow the model of the popular gangster movie Friend and use weapons, but Young-dal won’t allow it—they get to use their fists and their own tenacity. Of course, should they come across a piece of lumber (second official sponsor of all gang-related activities since 1576), they’re welcome to use it.
Yang-ha’s boss calls him in after she’s told who he really is by Director Hyun. She apologizes for treating him like every other trainee when he’s a special snowflake, but Yang-ha insists that she continue on as if she never learned of his identity or tell anyone else about him.

Of course, Jung-hee tells her friend KANG HYUN-MI (Jung Ji-yoon) that Yang-ha was the one who called her up to his suite once, and that he paid off her debts. Her friend knows that being a trainee and renting an expensive suite don’t compute, so she asks someone who’d know better—and he tells her outright that Yang-ha is Chairman Yoon’s son.
This comes as a surprise to both girls, but especially Jung-hee’s friend, who is all aflutter that a chaebol heir is interested in Jung-hee. “You’re going to become a Cinderella!” her friend squeals, though Jung-hee doesn’t look nearly as happy.
Shin-hye calls Dong-soo to tell him she’s taking a trip to his hometown of Sabuk while subtly inviting him to join her. Never mind that she claims she’s going so she can better treat his past trauma, which is all kinds of wrong.

While Dong-soo wastes no time in asking for a few days of leave, Shin-hye spots Young-dal in Sabuk and stops to ask him if he’d like to meet that friend of hers who played hold ‘em, since she’s on the way to see him now.
Young-dal gets nervous just because she’s a cop, and asks if she’s paying special attention to him out of pity. “Instead of pity, let’s just call it compassion,” she says with a smile. But Young-dal’s response is for her not to waste emotions like that on someone like him.
And as it turns out, the hold ‘em player she was talking about is none other than Yang-ha, who meets her for a hiking trip. Um. Hold on. In what world can psychiatrists go on outdoor jaunts with their patients? Who IS this woman?

Meanwhile, Boss Min offers Young-dal the services of her minion, Top Dog, and agrees to monetarily back Young-dal’s plan to take over Madame Jang’s casino.
During a break, Shin-hye asks Yang-ha why he’s in training to become a dealer. With a smile on his face, he admits that it should be because he wants to learn the casino business from the ground up… but it’s really because he’s interested in someone.
Shin-hye’s intrigued about who the girl could be, since she’s never known Yang-ha to be interested in anybody until now.

At the casino, one of Jung-hee’s old friends and coworkers tells her that he’s been asked by the new marketing director, Lee Soo-jung, to do a background check on her.
Jung-hee guesses that it’s because they ran into each other in Yang-ha’s suite, and tells her friend that he doesn’t have to worry and can report freely. He smiles as he asks if he can tell Soo-jung about Jung-hee’s past as a slacker, but that’s where she draws the line: “No, that’s a secret.”
Young-dal and his closest buddies take the homeless former CHAIRMAN JUNG out for a real meal, though the old man only sticks around because he’s been promised money in return.

The reason Young-dal is wining and dining him is because he figures that Chairman Jung must know a few tricks to win at baccarat… never mind that the former chairman is now homeless because he blew all his money gambling. The chairman agrees to divulge his secret for a few bucks. Talk about the blind leading the blind.
Jung-hee is incredibly conflicted over Yang-ha’s identity as well as Soo-jung’s sudden interest in her, and ends up asking her friend Hyun-mi if she can borrow some money.
Hyun-mi’s confused, since she knows Yang-ha paid back Jung-hee’s debt, but eventually folds with Jung-hee’s insistence that she not ask what the money is being used for. Methinks Hyun-mi wants to be on her good side since she thinks Jung-hee has her future secured now that she’s got a chaebol admirer.

However, Jung-hee gives that money (in a surprisingly thin envelope) to Yang-ha as payment for his payment of her debt, explaining that she changed her mind about paying over three months because she didn’t want to be indebted to him that long.
While holding back something-like-but-not-necessarily-emotions, Jung-hee then asks him to stop showing interest in her, since what she thinks is just a game to him could cost her everything. “I’ve always dreamed of becoming a dealer, and now I’ve finally been given that chance. I don’t want to lose that dream because of you,” she adds bluntly.
Confused, Yang-ha asks her why she thinks that way. She replies that it’s because they belong in two different worlds, and reiterates again that his interest will only hurt her in the long run: “So please, stop playing around with me.” Yang-ha is left speechless.

After sending Jang-soo and Jailbreak to put his plans in motion, Young-dal picks up on Jung-hee’s dour mood and offers to lift her spirits by taking her to the beach. Cue romantic motorcycle ride.
Jung-hee looks happier once they reach the shore, and Young-dal hangs back so she can have a moment to sort her feelings and scream her frustration out to the ocean. He’s content to watch with a smitten look on his face.

A moment passes as they sit together on the shore, interrupted only when Jung-hee angrily brushes stray tears away. When Young-dal asks why she’s crying, she sighs that she doesn’t know.
“Life is so depressing and difficult,” she adds, before asking Young-dal if he’s never had a moment like she’s having now, where he just felt like crying. Young-dal chuckles that if he acted on that impulse every time he had it, he’d be crying every day.
After receiving a report on all things Jung-hee, director Soo-jung rushes to greet Chairman Yoon, who’s come to the Sabuk casino. Director Hyun is with him, and after meeting with his mistress (Yang-ha’s boss), he’s told by Yang-ha that his wife is in town for a vacation. Ruh roh.

Dong-soo meets Shin-hye at the hotel, claiming that he only came to stop her from seeing his hometown: “It’s like being naked in front of you.” But Shin-hye smiles as she tells him in a flirty tone that she’s already seen it all, which would be kind of funny if she wasn’t talking about visiting all of Dong-soo’s traumatic childhood haunts—including the mine he used to steal scrap metal from.
She then tells him that she saw Young-dal in town by chance, and asks whether Dong-soo realizes that he and Young-dal look alike. Dong-soo has a good laugh at this, to which Shin-hye replies, “Well, of course, Heo Young-dal is much more handsome than you are. But… your eyes are similar. You both have sad eyes.”
They both start laughing when Shin-hye asks if his feelings are hurt over the “Young-dal is more handsome” comment, which is how Director Hyun finds them. For a guy with a mistress, he looks awfully upset to see his wife happy with another man.

At least Dong-soo covers for her when Director Hyun asks if they came together by saying that he just came on business. After he leaves, Director Hyun asks his wife why she’s never showed him the comfortable smile she just had with Dong-soo. Yikes.
Madame Jang introduces Young-dal’s noona fling to a rich chairman at the casino, but the noona’s face falls when they spot Young-dal with Boss Min.
She pulls Young-dal aside while rivals Madame Jang and Boss Min go at each other to ask why he’s here with Boss Min. Once he tells her it’s just a business partnership she asks, desperately, if he could just do business with her. “Noonim,” he begins flatly, “why are you acting so pathetic?”

It’s a regular party in Sabuk when Chairman Go gets into town, and he poses the same question to Young-dal as he did in the beginning of the episode: Will he kill Dong-soo?
Having just heard a lecture from Boss Min about how his entire future will hinge on whether he wins Chairman Go’s approval, Young-dal takes a long moment to think before he replies, “Okay, I’ll do it.” Nooo, Young-dal. Bad Young-dal, bad!
Just then, Dong-soo calls Young-dal, and Chairman Go instructs him to answer. When Dong-soo realizes that they’re both inside the same casino, he asks Young-dal exactly where he is so he can find him.
Young-dal’s eyes flutter with indecision as he looks up to an expectant Chairman Go…

Siiigh, Young-dal. I want to believe he’s better than this, but at the same time I’m worried that he’s not cunning enough to figure out a third option. This whole Chairman Go thing still feels so sudden, like Young-dal threw what little caution he maybe had left to the wind and just decided to latch onto the first chance of success he could get. And in this case, that’s Chairman Go.
It’s a little difficult to get a solid read on Young-dal’s thinking when it comes to the Big Bad Chairman, because while Young-dal is a slimy criminal, it’s hard to figure out whether he knows or cares about what kind of person Chairman Go really is—especially considering the fact that he’s trying to work under him and emulate his success story. I know Young-dal isn’t one for planning ahead, but has he seriously thought about whether that’s the sort of person he wants to become? A rich maniac with a bad dye job?
This week’s story arcs have been cyclical, in the sense that we’ve been ending in the same place where we began. Last episode started with Young-dal on his knees in front of Chairman Go and ended with Young-dal on his knees in front of him, even though different decisions were made in the interim. This episode started with Chairman Go posing his deadly question to Young-dal and ended with him doing the same, only this time Young-dal had an answer. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of format as long as the hour spent between both bookends informs the answer to whatever question was posed at the beginning.

But it’s in that middle area where the show seems to lose some of its narrative drive, which is a commodity already in short supply. I enjoyed the little moments spent developing character in between the drawn-out filler bits, like Young-dal and Dong-soo’s drunken bonding time. It’s why I find it hard to believe (or rather, why I don’t want to believe) that Young-dal would choose the selfish option to hurt Dong-soo for his own personal gain after spending enough time with him to know he’s a decent person.
And poor Dong-soo, who’s so unwittingly trusting that he had no idea he was being completely had by Young-dal. It was heartbreaking to watch him try to call Young-dal family only to be rebuked—and inside of his lonely, dilapidated home no less. The mysteries surrounding Dong-soo’s character grow more interesting by the hour, like why he didn’t hold Shin-hye back from marrying a husband she didn’t love if he really did/does love her. Or why he refuses to answer questions regarding his designer duds. If it’s really not just a matter of him spending what little salary he gets poorly, then it’s a pretty legitimate concern for internal affairs to wonder where he’s getting all that extra money from.
So while I’d like to believe that Dong-soo is completely incorruptible and awesome (aside from some anger issues), I’m starting to worry that there’s more to him than what we’ve been led to believe. Even though Yang-ha’s eased up on the gas pedal to creepsville and is actually relatable and sympathetic now, I wouldn’t put it past the show to pull one on us regarding just how much darkness each brother harbors within.


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