Friday, August 29, 2014

Triangle: Episode 8

One brother loses his cool, one goes above the law, and one cooks up a daring scheme to take over the gambling world one casino at a time. The suspense in this hour ebbs and flows, sometimes getting a leg up due to tense gambling scenes or violent outbursts, but not so much because of the romance. The women in this show are definitely getting the short end of the character stick these days, in that they could be portrayed by literal googly-eyed sticks for all the complexity they’re given. It’d probably help if they got more than a few lines of dialogue each episode—and while efficient time management is not this show’s current forte, we’re early enough in to where the hand we’ve been dealt shouldn’t have to be our last.
My Aunt Mary – “With” [ Download ]


Yang-ha calls Young-dal’s bet, causing an excited uproar among the game’s spectators—they all think the two men are crazy, but can’t wait to see who wins.
When it’s time to reveal his cards, Young-dal ends up with a high hand. Victory is almost certain, and even Yang-ha looks surprised… until he flips over two aces: another high hand.
He seems confident that he’s got the game now, and even chides Young-dal for thinking he could win at hold’em by bluffing. It’s a heavy blow, but the game’s not over until the dealer shows her cards.

Jung-hee’s first three-card reveal isn’t in Young-dal’s favor, and Yang-ha gloats, “Are you still expecting a miracle?” She’s still got two cards to go, which could make or break the game, but Yang-ha has the upper hand since he’s almost to a full house.
The next reveal doesn’t do much for anyone except Madame Jang’s lackey, who emcees the event for those of us who don’t know cards. Basically, Yang-ha’s win is in the bag unless the final card turned over just so happens to be a king of diamonds. Having four of a kind would be the only way Young-dal could win this game.
…And the card Jung-hee turns over is, miraculously, a king of diamonds. Young-dal wins, much to everyone’s surprise—including Yang-ha, who seems totally floored.

Which means it’s Young-dal’s chance to school Yang-ha in the way the younger man tried schooling him, by telling him that gambling isn’t about skills and probabilities like he claimed. “Gambling is all about your gut feeling, and luck.”
Yang-ha looks like a mad dog as he desperately pulls out more cash to play another game, to which Young-dal refuses, claiming he’s not stupid enough to expect another lucky hand.
To rub more salt in Yang-ha’s pride wound, he catches Jung-hee and Young-dal sharing a friendly, happy gaze. Ouch.

Boss Min congratulates Young-dal on his big win, and takes back only the money she lent him and none of the winning shares so that Jang-soo and Jailbreak can have some spending money. Aww.
And when Top Dog asks Young-dal when he plans on taking over Madame Jang’s casino, Young-dal confidently replies that it’ll be soon.
Young-dal’s noona fling, LADY KIM, talks with Madame Jang about Young-dal’s business relationship with Boss Min. That doesn’t trouble her as much as the news that Jung-hee is the girl Young-dal likes, and that he’s even rented a room in her house. Uh oh.

Jung-hee goes up to Yang-ha to apologize for how the game turned out, considering that he’s still dejectedly sitting at the empty table. He turns around and accuses her of being happy he lost, because he knows all about her closeness with Young-dal.
Then he reveals that the reason he chose her as the dealer was because he wanted to crush Young-dal in front of her, which obviously didn’t happen. But then he warns her that if Young-dal continues to hover around her, he won’t let it slide—he’ll repay his romantic rival for tonight’s insult tenfold. Huzzah, Yang-ha. Nothing wins a girl over like threatening the other guy she likes.

The subject comes up again when she goes home to Young-dal, only in reverse. He thinks she was forced to deal at the casino because of Madame Jang, but when she tells him it was Yang-ha—and that Yang-ha is the business director at the casino along with being the chairman’s son—poor Young-dal immediately feels inferior. D’aww.
Jung-hee heads inside after assuring Young-dal that he has nothing to worry about, but he’s anything but soothed. “Yoon Yang-ha, you bastard,” he says to himself. “Just wait and see.”
Shin-hye asks Dong-soo about his meeting with Chairman Yoon. Dong-soo is still considering his options, since he’s not sure if teaming up with Yoon against Chairman Go is the right thing to do.

But of course, when Dong-soo asks how Shin-hye knows Chairman Yoon, she claims she can’t tell him due to patient confidentiality. This meaningless, convenient burst of medical ethics is brought to you by Drama Shrinks! Drama Shrinks, doing their actual jobs only when it’s convenient since 1974.
After reassuring Shin-hye that his quitting the force had nothing to do with her father, Dong-soo tells her that he’s going to spend his time off revisiting the past—specifically the suspicious circumstances surrounding his father’s death, as well as resuming the search for his brothers.
He’ll need Shin-hye’s help in re-examining the case files though, especially the death report on his father. He already has the help of one of the detectives on his team, however covertly.

Dong-soo visits his old orphanage, and tears up as he imagines how Dong-chul (Young-dal) and Dong-woo (Yang-ha) looked as they waited for their big brother to return. Aww.
A little orphan asks the ajusshi why he’s crying, which is beyond adorable, and Dong-soo is happy to find out that the kids are well-fed these days. Even so, he wins the hearts of all the orphans when he offers to treat them all to jjajangmyun.
Because he’s in Sabuk, Dong-soo meets up with Young-dal to get an update on his next move. Young-dal is still playing both sides, which gives him the leeway to give half-truths—like how he’s planning on taking over Madame Jang’s casino to get on Chairman Go’s good side.

In order to make that move appealing to Dong-soo, Young-dal claims that it ties into finding out how Chairman Go launders his money, which was the original task Dong-soo gave him. According to Young-dal, the private casino is a perfect avenue for money laundering so if he takes it, Chairman Go would accept him because he would have brought him a new avenue to launder money.
But when Dong-soo asks how Young-dal plans to do the takeover without going to war, Young-dal claims he’s got a plan. Dong-soo offers to help in any way he can.
While Boss Min sends Top Dog to help Young-dal in his casino takeover, Boss Yang tries to unsuccessfully woo Madame Jang with an expensive handbag only to be interrupted when his son comes in. Madame Jang still takes the handbag though. Go her.

Lady Kim is wowed by Madame Jang’s new purse, and laughs as the casino owner admits that she knows just how much Boss Yang likes her—and plans to extort his attraction to her for all that it’s worth.
They both get to greet Young-dal and Boss Min when they arrive, which explains Lady Kim’s sour expression at seeing her old fling supported by a noona who isn’t her.
He’s there to convince Madame Jang to raise the betting limit for a game he wants to plan, while Boss Min is there to assure Madame Jang that she’ll be backing Young-dal monetarily.

In private, Boss Min asks Young-dal to tell her his plan now that she’s helped him out. He reveals that he went to the homeless former Chairman Jung for tips on how to win at baccarat, but that the old man told him there aren’t any secret methods.
“But,” Young-dal adds with a cryptic smile, “there’s still a way to win the money.” So… a secret method. Or am I just not reading his mind correctly?
Lady Kim urges Madame Jang to take Young-dal’s offer in order to get revenge on his new benefactor, but Madame Jang knows it’s not that easy: If they raise the betting limit to the millions and Young-dal were to win, that would mean the house would lose all that money. It’d be enough to force them out of business.

Ah, so that’s Young-dal’s plan. Interesting. But in order for Madame Jang to get permission to raise the limit, she has to call the real owner of the casino—something which comes as a shock to Lady Kim, since she assumed Jang was the owner.
After Madame Jang explains to her that they wouldn’t have escaped all those police raids without their mysterious overlord pulling strings, she calls Young-dal to tell him that his request has been granted: the betting limit has been raised.
Jung-hee and the rest of the new dealers are introduced to their sunbaes, though her unni Hyun-mi is unable to stick around to protect her friend since she gets called to deal with a rude, but rich, VIP.

This leaves Jung-hee and the recruits to deal with a particularly nasty set of sunbaes and their ringleader, who tells the new girls that their training isn’t over—they’ve got two weeks of slavery/hazing to go through first. Jung-hee gets particularly singled out by the ringleader, but manages to avoid the worst of her temper by being as subservient as possible.
…At least until she’s away from the awful girl who once went to school with her, since Jung-hee promises her fellow rookies that she’ll take her arrogant sunbae down when the time comes.

Yang-ha talks to the casino managers in order to get Jung-hee placed in the VIP lounge—a position normally reserved for the most experienced of dealers.
They don’t agree with his choice, even though Yang-ha claims he wants her there so she can go through tougher training. Once they’re alone, the managers gripe about having to follow Yang-ha’s orders and cater to a new recruit.
Jang-soo gives Young-dal some spy bugs, one to put in his ear and the others for unexplained purposes. To add to the mystery of the plan, they’ve managed to buy off an unexplained person they’d been working on for a total sum of fifty grand.

But when Jang-soo asks whether Young-dal is nervous about the scheme they’ve yet to pull off, Young-dal shrugs his reply: “I’m Young-dal. Heo Young-dal.” Why yes, yes you are.
Young-dal ditches his buddies without a second thought when Jung-hee’s younger brother invites him to eat dinner with the family, leaving Jailbreak (and his affinity for tacky floral prints) wondering if Young-dal likes Jung-hee. Jang-soo’s worried he might, and highly disapproves if so—Young-dal isn’t right for Jung-hee.
Grandma is so cute over the meal, and shushes any of Young-dal’s grateful attempts to offer to pay more for rent as compensation for the food. To her, all she did was add another spoon to the table. D’aww. I love this makeshift family.

Young-dal wins over the youngest brother’s heart/stomach by promising to buy beef for future family dinners (didn’t Jung-hee have two brothers once?), while Hyun-mi pops in to visit only to have her jaw drop the moment she recognizes Young-dal. Ruh roh.
While Young-dal smiles over how lucky he is to have Jung-hee and Grandma, Hyun-mi attempts to warn Jung-hee away from “that gangster” Young-dal. For her part, Jung-hee stands up for Young-dal and claims that he’s not as bad as everyone thinks. “The more I get to know him, the better person I see.”
Hyun-mi is shocked, and asks Jung-hee if she has feelings for Young-dal. Though she denies that she does, Hyun-mi doesn’t believe her, and laments her friend liking a low-rent gangster over the chaebol heir who’s into her.

Chairman Yoon is faced with Chairman Go’s underhanded dealings to pull him under, and doesn’t hesitate to answer in the affirmative when Director Hyun asks him if he called on Dong-soo for help. Director Hyun tries to sway him against Dong-soo since he’s got personal issues with him, but Yoon won’t budge.
Jang-soo has to defend Young-dal’s skills against his father, who thinks Boss Min was out of her mind to put her faith and money into Young-dal. Still, they both decide to go watch the game, while Jailbreak and Top Dog set up a wireless surveillance van to monitor the bugs Young-dal ordered.
Young-dal’s boys get nervous when they see that Madame Jang has increased her casino security ahead of the game, since it’ll make it harder for them to cheat (or whatever their scheme is).

Young-dal isn’t as nervous, and jokingly asks Lady Kim if she’ll be his new sponsor should he lose the game. Lady Kim answers in all seriousness, “If you really need a sponsor, cut your ties with her [Boss Min] and come to me.”
As the game begins, we see the extent of Young-dal’s plan: The dealer at the table is under their control, and has disguised a camera as a button so that Top Dog, in the surveillance van, can see the order of the cards as she shuffles…

…Which he can then report to Young-dal through the bug hidden in his ear. He tells Young-dal when to bet and which cards to pick, which results in Young-dal winning the first game and the house losing a lot of money.
Shin-hye enlists her father’s help to find a man who knew Dong-soo’s father because he worked with him in the mines. She accompanies Dong-soo to meet the former employee, who remembers meeting Dong-soo and his two brothers when they were children.
When asked about the mining accident that led to Daddy Jang’s death, the old man reveals that no one bought that it was just an accident—all the workers knew that Chairman Yoon was behind it, and that he ordered his hired thug, now Chairman Go, to do it.

Dong-soo can barely contain his anger as he asks why none of the workers ever spoke up if they knew this to be true, but the old man replies that they were too afraid of the powers that be. “We were cowards,” the old man says, his voice tinged with deep regret.
Shin-hye’s worried about what Dong-soo will do now, and tries reminding him that there’s no evidence to back up the old man’s claim. But Dong-soo is surprisingly calm as he admits that even if they had evidence, they’d get no legal justice since the statute of limitations has long passed.
However, that won’t stop Dong-soo from working without the law, as he swears that he’ll do to those bastards himself what the law can’t or won’t. Is this the emergence of Dark Dong-soo?

Madame Jang’s expression darkens as Young-dal keeps winning more and more of her money, causing her to call the mysterious casino owner to ask for advice. He tells her to shut the game down, which doesn’t put her in the clear—as Lady Kim points out, Madame Jang doesn’t have enough money to replace all the chips Young-dal’s won.
Young-dal isn’t heartbroken when Madame Jang says it’s time to quit the game, since he’s ready to cash out almost two million dollars worth of chips. However, she claims she doesn’t have the money to pay him, which, yikes.
Chairman Go gets Assemblyman Kim to side with him against Chairman Yoon by promising him money and girls. Their goal? To get Chairman Yoon to back out of the luxury island resort deal by taking away his casino.

A barely-contained Dong-soo has tracked Chairman Go down, and after ribbing him for being a former cop, Go laughs in the face of Dong-soo’s threats to take care of the murderous chairman outside the parameters of the law.
But it’s Chairman Go’s complete dismissal of him that proves to be Dong-soo’s last straw as he grabs the older man and clocks him one, hard.

Now the chairman is paying attention, but Dong-soo’s no longer interested in words. He beats Chairman Go to the ground before he sets to kicking his ribs in, and he keeps going even after Go is unconscious. Jesus, is he going to kill him?
Chairman Go’s minions find him laid up in the hospital, all bruised up and broken. Though the one minion wants to file a lawsuit against Dong-soo, Chairman Go refuses—he doesn’t want people finding out that he was so badly beaten.
“Jang Dong-soo, that bastard… I’m going to rip him apart and kill him myself,” Chairman Go growls dementedly, his eyes all but popping out of his head with rage. “An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.” Crap.

Madame Jang tries to stall for time in getting Young-dal his money, at least until he reminds her that she had no problem taking his many times before. She argues that the sum is much greater this time, but is backed into a corner when Boss Min threatens to tell Madame Jang’s clients that the casino doesn’t have enough money to give them their winnings.
Since that would be equivalent to Madame Jang shutting down her casino, she asks Young-dal what he’d rather do.
A smirk crosses his face as he offers his solution: “I’m gonna have to take a stake in the ownership of this place equal to my winnings. It means I’m going to take over. Okay?”

I like what this show is doing with each brother, but I also maybe understand why most dramas don’t attempt to juggle three main leads of seemingly equal importance, if only because there’s just not enough screen time. Granted, I think Triangle could trim some fat when it comes to letting scenes with secondary characters linger longer than they should, and I hope that does become the case as the brothers’ story threads start to coalesce and tangle—‘cause Yang-ha deserves more time than he’s getting.
It was a step forward for Young-dal to make such a daring plan and succeed at it, though I’m inclined to think that it wasn’t so much that the plan was brilliant, and more like he got lucky that Madame Jang isn’t the brightest crayon in the box either. You’d think that she would’ve started to suspect a consistent loser suddenly winning every hand, as gambling houses are inclined to do, and that she hired extra security to do more than just stand around. Buuut she didn’t, which paved the way for Young-dal’s plan to go off without a hitch. So, go him for finally turning his losing streak around, even if he had to cheat to do it.
I can only guess that Dong-soo isn’t done with Chairman Go yet, but was a little surprised that he didn’t get an Inigo Montoya line before he started beating the crap out of him. For now it’s just easier to overlook how quickly Dong-soo got relevant information about his father the second he cared to look for it, because I don’t want to believe that Dong-soo’s storyline will turn out to be that simple. Now that he knows who killed his father, surely his revenge will equate to more than one harsh beating, right? I mean, he didn’t decide to tread where the law wouldn’t dare to go just to physically kick the collective ass of his enemies… right?
For as little screen time as Yang-ha gets, he always leaves a strong impression, no matter if his character is being wide-eyed and hopeful or downright creepy. The glimpses we get of him show both a man teetering on the edge of psychosis and a child whose world gets turned upside down the second he doesn’t get what he wants, which actor Im Shi-wan plays with a surprising level of restraint. In the way that Dong-soo is a ticking time bomb of rage, Yang-ha’s entire persona is based on compartmentalizing his emotions—and when we saw his programming fail in the face of losing his crush, it felt eerily like we were seeing a fragment of the twisted mind lurking beneath. And that’s the kind of stuff I like to see.
What’s keeping me onboard for the future (aside from the fire sale on pretty faces) is the dramatic gold mine just waiting to be discovered once our three brothers become aware of each other. Not only do they have their own personal demons to face, like Young-dal almost-kinda trying to kill Dong-soo and Yang-ha hating Young-dal for stealing his girl, but they also have two common enemies in Chairman Yoon and Chairman Go—should they eventually choose to take revenge for their father’s murder, anyway. And when you consider the fact that Yang-ha was raised by the man who sentenced his father to death, well, the possibilities are endless.

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