Friday, August 29, 2014

Triangle: Episode 7

Even if life has dealt some pretty bad hands for our three brothers in the past, they’ll need to put on their best pokerfaces if they want to survive the upcoming power battle up ahead. The stakes get even higher as Young-dal learns that working for Chairman Go isn’t always rosy, but it at least has its perks, like one good suit. It also gives him a chance to exercise his card-playing skills, because he wants to become a world poker champion. If that’s still his dream. Wait, that’s still his dream, right?

Huh Gak (feat. Yoo Seung-woo) – “모노드라마 (Monodrama)” [ Download ]


His decision to eliminate Dong-soo still fresh on his mind, Young-dal meets up with him at the casino. I find their adorable bickering so endearing, like how Young-dal ribs the detective for his old man tastes in gambling, and how Dong-soo counters that he’s insulting tens of thousands of Go-Stop lovers right now. Ha.
Dong-soo suggests they go out for drinks in lieu of gambling, which Young-dal agrees to, adding that he’ll treat this time since they’re in his hood now. Aw, that’d be sweet if only you hadn’t agreed to do Dong-soo in later. Young-dal mentions that he has some unfinished business, so the two men agree to meet up later.
Chairman Yoon meets with Chairman Go, who chuckles that he’s better off using all that money he lost on the tables to buy a casino instead, specifically this one. His meaning isn’t lost on Chairman Yoon who coldly calls the Pepe Le Pew chairman out on his nerve.

Neither men are aware of the door opening just then and they carry on their conversation as Yang-ha listens in. Chairman Yoon has had enough of Chairman Go’s disregard and threats made against him and makes plain that he’ll no longer do business with a dirty gangster.
Chairman Go doesn’t take kindly to those words, reminding him that he murdered Jang Jung-kook (the three brothers’ father) per Chairman Yoon’s command. He believes cutting ties with each other won’t be easy with a shared black mark on their records, but Chairman Yoon thinks differently.
Chairman Yoon calls the skunk-haired chairman on his bluff, prepared for the consequences should their bloody past goes public. After all, he won’t be going down alone, though he’s also reminded that he has much more to lose than a dirty gangster. Yang-ha slips out quietly, shaken by what he’s just heard.

Chairman Go is still fuming when he sits down with Boss Min afterward. He won’t give up just because he’s been refused, and turns to Boss Min for funds. She’s happy to give it and asks why Chairman Go has looked favorably upon Young-dal. It’s nothing special, Chairman Go laughs—he needs a hunting dog that can be easily disposed once the chase is off.
Jang-soo freaks out once he hears about “getting rid of” Dong-soo, finding it ridiculous that his buddy would’ve received an order to kill. He’s even more upset to hear that Young-dal has already agreed to do it, and tells him that he can’t have his Chairman Go approval cake and eat it, too.
Still, Young-dal wonders whether there’s a workaround and realizes that he can employ the gangster crew—that way, he won’t get his hands dirty. That sounds like a terrible idea, and even worse, Jang-soo sets it up anyway.

Young-dal tells his buddy to scram when Dong-soo approaches, and they head to a restaurant (more meat!) where the gangster crew is already sitting nearby. As they eat, Young-dal wonders why Dong-soo would come here of all places for vaycay. Sabuk is his hometown, Dong-soo answers, and that gives Young-dal pause.
At Young-dal’s signal, Jailbreak and the small-time thugs start making a ruckus and act offended when Dong-soo tells them to simmer down. It’s borderline hilarious how they get all up in his face, and Dong-soo suggests that they take it outside. Crap, Dong-soo’s going to pelt them all half to death, isn’t he? This was a really terrible idea.
Young-dal’s too curious to just sit back, so he steps out to watch the fight. The whole crew comes at Dong-soo, who takes them out one by one, or should I say punch by punch. Dong-soo has them run through exercises as punishment, and then half-scolds Young-dal for playing spectator while he fought everyone off alone.

Aw, Dong-soo even offers to foot the crew’s bill before telling them to scram, then he and Young-dal head back inside. Noticing Young-dal’s antsiness, Dong-soo encourages him to come clean with whatever Young-dal’s been bottling in, citing that he can spot that guilty look from a mile away.
So Young-dal admits that he knew the guys who were attacked Dong-soo earlier. We don’t get to hear any further for now because we cut away to Yang-ha, who pours himself a generous drink.
After downing it, he goes to see his father and comes right out with it, asking who Jang Jung-kook is. Even though Chairman Yoon feigns ignorance, Yang-ha presses the topic; he’s done his homework and knows that Jang was the coal miners’ union leader who supposedly died accidentally.

However, that was no accident because his father had Jang killed, and Yang-ha reveals that he overheard Chairman Yoon’s conversation earlier. Then he asks sadly, “Why did you do it?”
Chairman Yoon recounts how he was publicly humiliated for days during the miners’ protests. Both the mines and Daejung Group would have gone under if they didn’t kill Jang off, and if Yang-ha heard correctly, then he also knows how Chairman Go has threatened them. As Daejung Group’s future heir, it’s up to Yang-ha to protect the resort and casino. Yikes, no pressure.
A dark expression pans over Yang-ha’s face as he promises to protect the company. Man, I love how we can plainly see him mull over and arrive at that decision.

It seems Young-dal had divulged the entire truth to Dong-soo at the restaurant, which yay! As he walks home, he thinks back to how Dong-soo had told him to gain Chairman Go’s trust, assuring him that he’ll handle the whole getting stabbed part.
Dong-soo declines an invitation to have wine with his longtime friend and worst psychiatrist ever Shin-hye. It doesn’t stop her from sending a metaphor-filled text about how long she has to stand outside the door of his heart.
She thinks back to her conversation with her estranged husband, who refused to stain his pristine-looking life on paper with a divorce. He had grabbed her angrily, asking if her lingering feelings for Dong-soo are why she wants to end their marriage. She had slapped him for that.

The sound of the doorbell brings her back to the present. It’s Dong-soo, who says she was inside his heart ever since the moment he saw her, and she’s never left since. He places a hand on her cheek and then pulls her in for a hug. I’m… just going to bite my tongue and let this play out. (facepalm)
When Yang-ha doesn’t show up to casino dealer training the following morning, Jung-hee grows slightly concerned, having seen him visibly shaken before. Yang-ha is absent because he’s accompanied his father in the company’s executive meeting, where he’s formally introduced as the casino’s business director.
News travels fast about how baby-faced Yang-ha is both a chaebol heir and now business director. Jung-hee’s casino dealer unni relishes in telling the other gossipy girls that someone’s about to become a Cinderella in their midst… and it isn’t any of them. Ha.

Jang-soo brandishes a wooden plank against the gangster goons, which seems pretty excessive for a bunch of neighborhood thugs. After sending them on another run around the mountain, Jang-soo asks the question we’ve all been dying to ask: If Young-dal has agreed to be spies for both Dong-soo and Chairman, where do his loyalties truly lie?
His answer is one we’ve come to expect: “Me? I’m in it for me.”
Back at the police station, Dong-soo is given the bad news that he’s getting a three-month suspension. Dong-soo doesn’t blame his boss in the slightest, and decides that if he’s getting suspended, he may as well quit. Wait, what? That sounds like a stupid idea.

Chairman Go isn’t surprised that Chairman Yoon is aware about his preparations to declare war. He affirms that he will go up against the Daejung CEO, and believes that he has a fighting chance with Director Hyun’s help.
He’s more than happy to hear that Dong-soo plans on resigning his post, then acknowledges that they have no more use for Young-dal anymore.
Although both Shin-hye and Chief Hwang have heard of Dong-soo’s decision, Chief Hwang blames himself for this result.

Team Dong-soo goes out for a depressing outing, and the other detectives can’t comprehend why their team leader would suddenly quit. Dong-soo says he’s tired of spending his career running around and trying to pin Chairman Go. Just because he’s a civilian now doesn’t mean he’s going to give up on his search, but he’s reminded that he has no authority now.
Dong-soo collects his thoughts by the Han River afterward. He finally takes Shin-hye’s call to reassure her that it wasn’t Chief Hwang’s fault and promises to call later. He takes his alone time to recall his conversation with Detective Gook (the local Sabuk detective), where he was told of all the oddities surrounding his father’s accidental death in the coal mines.
The records claim that the mines caved in, but the miners were on strike, and no one looked any further into it. Despite the loose ends, re-opening the case will do little now since so much time has passed.

Grandma sends Jung-hee off to the pharmacy after she finds Young-dal in a feverish state in the morning. It’s sweet how she cares for him, tsking over how sad it is to fall ill without any family around. She tells him to regard this family like his own. Awww. Moved, he wipes the tears in his eyes.
Young-dal musters the strength to see Boss Min, who tells him that Chairman Go wants to see him in Seoul. She takes issue with his shabby dress, which means Suit Makeover Time! And I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that he looks hella smart (even with that pompadour).
He certainly impresses Chairman Go, though Young-dal is surprised to hear that Dong-soo has quit the force. He wonders if that’s what Dong-soo meant about setting himself up to be stabbed, but he’s told that Dong-soo is no longer a target. All Young-dal needs to do now is prove that he’s capable to Chairman Go, and Young-dal agrees.

Young-dal is dismissed just as Yang-ha arrives, and although they recognize each other, they don’t stop to acknowledge each other’s acquaintances. Yang-ha isn’t just here for polite introductions; rather he’d like to warn Chairman Go against his greed for the casino and resort—if the chairman engages in this war, he’ll only end up losing.
Chairman Go finds Yang-ha’s confidence highly amusing, but he’s willing to challenge Yang-ha’s arrogant declaration that Chungjin is no match for Daejung Group.
Young-dal hangs back to talk to Yang-ha, to whom he freely announces that he serves Chairman Go. Yang-ha advises him to be careful since he intends to wage war against Chungjin, words that Young-dal throws back at him.

Chairman Yoon greets Dong-soo warmly upon their first meeting, having heard Shin-hye speaking highly of him. He also knows of Dong-soo’s longstanding history with Chairman Go, and he’d like Dong-soo to fight on his side.
Oh cute—Young-dal lingers around to catch a glimpse of Jung-hee after work. She’s taken aback by his new look, and he hands her a small gift in gratitude for buying medicine for him. It’s adorable how he’s all, Nah, it’s nothing and stands a little straighter when she compliments his suit.
And not too far off, Yang-ha looks devastated to see the two look so chummy together. Curious, Yang-ha learns about Young-dal’s infamous reputation as a local gangster from a pair of employees who are also locals.

Young-dal continues to relish in his new status as Chairman Go’s man with Jang-soo and his father back in Sabuk. He gets a call from Yang-ha, who calls him out for a hold ‘em match.
Evidently the big match will take place at Madame Jang’s underground casino, and Young-dal’s noona fling is upset to hear that Boss Min is Young-dal’s benefactor.
Aw, it turns out that Young-dal’s present for Jung-hee was a necklace. Damn it, Young-dal, why didn’t you put it on for her? Jung-hee is called in to Madame Jang’s casino to be the dealer for tonight’s big match. She refuses, but she’s told that someone specifically requested her.

That someone is Yang-ha, who makes his request in person, assuring her that her participation won’t be held against her. Once Young-dal’s noona fling hears of Yang-ha’s exceptional card-playing skills, she offers to be his sponsor. He declines. Well, that’s not embarrassing or anything.
Young-dal & Co. finally arrive, and I’d be lying if I said that their epic stand-off didn’t make me laugh. Then it’s time for the hold ‘em match between Young-dal versus Yang-ha. We learn the rules via exposition thanks to Jailbreak, who conveniently knows nothing about the game.

Yang-ha looks pretty confident even before the game begins whereas Young-dal seems a bit uneasy. And in a surprising turn, Young-dal pushes all his chips forward without so much as a glance at his cards. He’s going all-in.
Yang-ha calls it reckless, but Young-dal says that’s up to him. After looking at his own hand, he encourages Young-dal to take a gander at his cards. It’s no fun if they end the game in one round, he says.
Young-dal tells him to shut up and make his move, and after a long, suspenseful pause, Yang-ha declares, “Call.”

It’s nice to see some forward movement in Young-dal this hour, and while I’ve long since abandoned the idea that Young-dal has some grand organized plan set out for himself (because we know that he doesn’t) it still worries me how he continues to ignore the warnings of those around him. You’d think a few stabbings and kidnappings might knock some sense into him that he can’t solely rely on his own street smarts, but maybe he’s lived a lone wolf for so long that he knows that he’s the only one who will look out for himself.
Joining Chairman Go’s ranks is just the tip of the iceberg, and despite his bravado, Young-dal still strikes me as the naive kid looking to win it big in the gambling big leagues. He isn’t even aware of the imminent power play war between the high-rollers (though I wouldn’t count his current ignorance to that against him), and it rather feels like he’s the bumbling guy who stumbled into the middle of the battlefield, unarmed. I can understand his desire to become rich, even if he doesn’t know or cares to know how awful Chairman Go is, but I don’t want to end up seeing him as the reactive pawn who gets shunted around in this war like a ragdoll. I want him to open his eyes to what’s going on and fight against being used as a hunting dog. In other words, if Young-dal says that he’s in it for himself, then I want to see him take ownership of that declaration and fight for his own sake.
It’s sad to see Young-dal to become more unlikable as a character in that sense, especially with the way he treats his own gangster boys. I was a little disappointed to see them punished so severely because I can’t assume that those neighborhood boys would lay down their lives in service of Young-dal. Basically, I can’t assume that Young-dal has their full trust and loyalty (even if they’re mostly there for comedic relief at present), which means that they could just as easily turn against him if he isn’t careful. If anything, I hope that he can start to see the value of the pseudo-family—and real family, for that matter—relationships forming around him and root himself in those bonds.
Speaking of bonds, no matter how much I love Dong-soo, I honestly cannot get behind his loveline with Shin-hye. It’s a first love storyline I could do without, terrible professional ethics notwithstanding. Maybe it would help if Shin-hye held any other occupation other than being a psychiatrist/hiking buddy/drinking buddy to two of her clients, but at the end of the day, her character is written to be so plain that whole scenes could be cut around her and we’d still have a worthwhile series. And in that vein, I feel bad for actress Oh Yeon-soo, who is usually fantastic in her other roles, to be stuck with a boring persona. There, I said it.
Still, it’s Yang-ha’s character arc I’m drawn to. It was great to see that turn of confidence and determination in him, particularly in front of his adoptive father. Sure, a one conversation changer makes it seem all too easy, which is why I’m at least grateful to see the decisive moment when he assumes the position to protect Daejung. Moreover, I’m more excited about this poker match against Young-dal (which may very well end in the first few minutes of the next episode) because it’s as much a battle of wits as it’s a card game. In gambling, the stakes are high and there can be only one winner. Your move, Triangle.

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