Friday, August 29, 2014

Triangle: Episode 9

With one small-time casino under Young-dal’s belt, it’s time for him to set his sights on bigger and better casinos. Getting there won’t be easy, and one might think that he’s going through all that trouble because he wants to carve his own success story, but then you learn it’s all for gaining one skunk-haired chairman’s approval. I’d tell him that talking to baby bro might help him gain some challenging insight on aspiring to greater things in life, but he’s too busy grinning like a fool in love.

ZE:A – “후유증 (Aftermath)” R&B remix [ Download ]


After taking over Madame Jang’s casino, Young-dal works up the nerve to ask Jung-hee out on a date. He picks her up with a car and dressed in his fashionable threads. Excuse me while I take a moment to admire his spiffy new look.
Aw, he’s a gentleman, too, and they drive off, although their exit is caught by those snippy sunbaes and casino unni Hyun-mi.
Jung-hee admires Young-dal’s new ride (aw, I liked the motorcycle though) and Young-dal admits that it’s borrowed—sometimes debtors will pawn off their assets but never come to find them again because they’re too deep in gambling debt. Jung-hee dismisses Hyun-mi’s concerned text that the rumor mill will be churning about her and Young-dal tomorrow, replying that it’s nobody’s business and it doesn’t matter.

Young-dal takes her out to a fancy sit-down dinner, where Jung-hee shyly says she feels out of place. He says she’s the prettiest woman in the entire room. She teases him, saying that line makes him sound like a player, and he takes that as a compliment. Aww, they’re adorable.
Seeing them act cute and polite to each other with their permanent smiles is just plain nice to watch. Noting his cheery mood, she asks if something good happened to him today. There is, but Young-dal says he’ll hold off on sharing the good news until it turns into something substantial.
There’s something he’d like to thank Jung-hee for first, and Young-dal says that he knows what sort of things people in this town say and think about him, but he’s thankful that she chooses to be in his company in spite of all that.

His words are brutally honest, saying how meeting her made him feel ashamed for the first time in his life. That was something entirely new for him, he says, “but after I got to know you and whenever I thought of you, I was embarrassed about everything.”
He makes her a promise, though: If she understands how he feels, he’ll work hard to lead a life that isn’t shameful. Finished, Young-dal nervously toys with his hands and shrinks into his chair sheepishly. She smiles. Awww.
They return home, and before Jung-hee heads inside, she turns around to tell him that she’s no better than he is, so there’s no reason for him to feel ashamed with her. Touched, his eyes start to well up with tears and is stuck on cloud nine for the rest of the night. Inside, Jung-hee puts on the necklace he gave her.

Dong-soo agrees to help Chairman Yoon, and even though the chairman insists on treating his men well, he declines the offer for a high-ranking position. Instead, he inquires after Chairman Yoon’s relationship with Chairman Go, and gets the vague answer that it’s an ill-fated relationship.
Yang-ha arrives to join them just then, and Dong-soo rises to exchange greetings. Yang-ha seems to feel a connection through their handshake. Hmm.
Dong-soo recalls an earlier conversation with Shin-hye, who had decided to abandon her patient confidentiality clause from the last episode and told Dong-soo everything about Yang-ha’s backstory, specifically how Yang-ha was adopted. Back in the present, Dong-soo is told that he’ll be helping Yang-ha wage war on Chairman Go.

Young-dal’s recent takeover has earned him another audience with Chairman Go, though, Boss Min enlightens her beneficiary on how Chairman Go really sees him. He’s no better than a hunting dog in Chairman Go’s eyes, and she’s telling him this because she considers Young-dal too valuable to be simply abandoned afterward.
In other words, Boss Min offers Young-dal to come under her wing where he won’t be a throwaway card. That sounds like a pretty good deal to Jang-soo’s ears, but Young-dal disagrees. If Chairman Go sees him as a hunting dog, then it’s up to Young-dal to work hard to change his mind and gain his sincere approval.
As Dong-soo waits for Shin-hye outside, a pair of vans loaded with Chairman Go’s thugs drive up to him. Naturally he refuses to be taken, and then fights off as many gangsters as he can. But there are too many of them and he eventually gets beaten and taken away, and Shin-hye arrives two seconds too late.

Young-dal visits Chairman Go in the hospital, and while he accepts the chairman’s praises graciously, the choice words that he’s still “useful” and an “asset” stick out like a sore thumb to his ears.
Chairman Go is impressed by how Young-dal managed to pull a scam to acquire his first casino, but now it’s time to set his sights on bigger targets, say, cheating at Chairman Yoon’s casino, Daejung. Tackling such a big casino makes Young-dal nervous, but Chairman Go isn’t one to listen to excuses.
Overcoming challenges is the only surefire way to prove one’s worth and capabilities. He needs to shake up Daejung casino, and orders Young-dal to do a good job. For him, of course. Young-dal gives a reluctant nod.

Chairman Go is informed of Dong-soo’s capture, and he invites Young-dal to tag along. Ha, how much do I love how Chairman Go dresses up to see Dong-soo? Man’s got to look good in front of his most hated former detective.
When they arrive at the warehouse, Dong-soo is weary and barely conscious. Young-dal winces to see Dong-soo in his battered state, and Chairman Go rubs in how there’s no use going by the book in their longstanding history when they can just use their fists instead. “I’ll finish you off with my fists,” he spits venomously.
Then he tasks Young-dal to beat Dong-soo on his behalf. Oh crap, it’s both a test of Young-dal’s loyalty and to see Dong-soo suffer. Young-dal hesitates and he meets Dong-soo’s gaze. And then Dong-soo nods, giving him the go-ahead.

It’s telling how Young-dal stalls for as much time as possible, shaking his head at Dong-soo once more. But Dong-soo gives him the green light again, and after another pause, Young-dal launches his fist at Dong-soo’s face. Again and again and again.
It’s heartbreaking to watch Young-dal’s fist fly with such guilt written on his face, but Dong-soo takes the beating until he finally collapses again. When asked what they should with him, Chairman Go twitches, “Get rid of him.”
Shin-hye and the detectives don’t arrive at the warehouse until nightfall, but luckily for them, the gangsters are still there. While the detectives take on the thugs, Shin-hye scans the place for Dong-soo and sees him lying unconscious on the floor. She weaves through the fight (totally unscathed!) to get to him.

Thankfully Dong-soo comes to at the hospital by the time Chief Hwang arrives, and the latter fumes to hear that this was Chairman Go’s doing. Dong-soo clarifies that he threw the first punch, and it’s no use throwing the chairman behind bars when he’ll be released right away anyway.
“If I can’t expel him myself, then it’s better to leave him alone,” Dong-soo mutters despairingly. He vows to handle this on his own without anyone’s help.
Shin-hye insists on taking care of Dong-soo that evening, and Young-dal drops by to see him. Once the two men are alone, Young-dal conveys his apologies, but Dong-soo says there’s no need since he would’ve ended up beaten to a pulp anyway.

Young-dal can’t even bring himself to look at Dong-soo, who grabs him by the lapel and draws him close. Dong-soo pleads with Young-dal to become one of Chairman Go’s men, and then sends him away in case they’re seen together. Young-dal looks sorry to leave so soon, but he does on Dong-soo’s insistence.
Back at Daejung casino, Director Hyun confronts Yang-ha about a pair of casino employees’ being reassigned to the resort. We’ve overheard the casino managers gossiping that it’s quite the demotion, and moreover, these particular employees are on Director Hyun’s side.
Yang-ha is unfazed, however, saying that Director Hyun should consider himself lucky that his own name didn’t appear on that list. He’s well aware that Director Hyun was the mole who leaked info to Chairman Go, and he’s chosen to put up with it this time because his father respects Director Hyun. But he makes it clear that it won’t be good to try his patience again.

The annoying sunbae trio ribs Jung-hee on her acquaintance with Young-dal. Jung-hee doesn’t stand for their belittling remarks though, and fires back that it’s none of their business who she’s seeing thankyouverymuch.
Their casino manager only adds fuel to the fire when she announces that Jung-hee will be included in the VIP roster today, to everyone’s surprise. Hyun-mi seems pleased, but when the others gripe about it, the manager says they can take it up with Yang-ha if they’ve got a problem with it.
Although Madame Jang’s lackey is convinced that Young-dal scammed them out of their own casino, she believes that he didn’t. One would think Madame Jang would be suspicious that the resident loser somehow managed to buy up her casino overnight, but she isn’t.

She does, however, step outside to greet Young-dal and his buddies, who are checking in to see how business is going. Evidently Young-dal also asked for a personal office, but his reaction is less than enthused.
Jang-soo knows that means something’s on his buddy’s mind, and he gapes at the plan to pull a con at Daejung casino.
Jung-hee heads to Yang-ha’s office, ignoring the staff who complain that she can’t go in without an appointment. She wastes no time to confront him, reminding Yang-ha how she told him not to toy with her anymore, and she sees his preferential treatment towards her as a kind of petty revenge.

Yang-ha rises at that and tells her that her prior work experience at an illegal underground casino doesn’t disqualify her from working with the VIP clients in this workplace. Everyone has a chance to climb up the career ladder, he says, “But will you settle for just working as a casino dealer?”
Someone without any goals lets opportunities slip past them, Yang-ha continues. He wasn’t joking around but rather giving her a chance: “You didn’t realize that because you don’t have a dream. Since you don’t have a dream, you keep meeting people you should avoid.”
Those words are hard to swallow, and even Yang-ha seems to waver at the sight of Jung-hee’s brimming tears. Brutally honest, but words Jung-hee needed to hear. His words linger in her head by the time she gets home, where aw, Young-dal bought more meat for the family.

Young-dal has clocked Jung-hee’s dispiritedness however, and tells little bro Byung-soo to check in on her. You’d think Young-dal has won some points with all the meat he’s bought for the kiddo, but Byung-soo tells “ajusshi” to stop liking his sister. Cute. (Speaking of brothers, where’s middle bro Byung-tae?)
Boss Min takes one of the Daejung casino managers out to dinner to finagle some history on past scams against the casino. There were a few instances in the past, but the culprits were eventually caught, and now the security system is virtually unbeatable.
She calls to inform Young-dal as much, but you know that when someone mentions that “no one” can break the system in dramaland, your rookie con artist hero will always be the one to do so anyway.

Jang-soo and Jailbreak conveniently drop by to ask Young-dal if he’s really going to go through with it. He will, and he’s positive that there must be some way.
Young-dal is called out to see Lady Kim the next day, and he dismisses her warnings that his dismissiveness will get him into trouble. He’d rather accept the consequences and cut ties with her cleanly, adding that his former days are behind him.

He grows increasingly frustrated by Lady Kim’s rants how liking Jung-hee will do nothing in his life, especially when she’s the direct heir of some sizeable plots of land. But Young-dal has had enough of people trying to get a piece of him, and says that he won’t mooch off of anyone else anymore—he’ll earn what he wants.
That’s pretty big talk for someone whose recent earnings are all thanks to some rich names, but Young-dal’s got his determination to stick to. But this is where Lady Kim’s niceties ends it seems, as she reminds him of the saying “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
“I’m going to destroy you,” she says, eyes unblinking. And we also know that whenever one character declares vengeance on someone else, they always see it through.

Jang-soo catches his father betting (and losing) at the baccarat table and drags him back to the office. At his father’s sobs over Young-dal’s success story, Jang-soo tells him that it was just a scam but emphasizes that it-totally-didn’t-happen-okay?
Once Young-dal and his buddies are alone, Jailbreak elaborates on the Hong Kong players’ scheme where they swiped a card before entering the VIP room, and then played it at the opportune moment. That technique requires a skillful sleight-of-hand, something none of them can do.
Young-dal supposes they’ll just have to use a deck that’s manipulated ahead of time so that it plays to their advantage. Getting their hands on a Daejung casino deck of cards will be relatively easy.

Young-dal outlines the casino layout to his buddies, explaining that they’ll change the cards in the restaurant near the VIP room. Madame Jang’s lackey spies on their scheming through his laptop, thanks to a bug he planted in Young-dal’s office earlier.
He shares his knowledge of what Young-dal’s been plotting these past few days with Madame Jang and Lady Kim. He’s got solid proof of their devious plans, and that should be enough to kick Young-dal out of the casino.
So Lady Kim and Madame Jang seek out the male casino manager (the same one whom Boss Min met. Does he know all the underground rich ladies?) to tip him off about Young-dal’s con. At the same time, Yang-ha orders a background check on Dong-soo.

Once news of Young-dal’s scam reaches Yang-ha’s ears, he does the interesting thing and chooses not to act. Instead, they’ll let Young-dal challenge their casino’s walls, and then they’ll catch him in the act.
Chairman Go is optimistic about Young-dal’s attempt whereas Boss Min is more pragmatic. They figure that they can bet on what happens to Young-dal. Top Dog is back in his parked van, and Young-dal and his boys head for Daejung.

He enters the VIP room, and who should be the dealer tonight but Jung-hee herself. Both parties try to hide their surprise while Yang-ha keeps watch from his office.
His door knocks just then—it’s Dong-soo all suited up, and Yang-ha greets him as a director. Guess Chairman Yoon gave him an actual high-ranking position in the company after all. Dong-soo’s first assignment is fast approaching, Yang-ha tells him.
Back at the VIP table, the baccarat game begins.

So much for living a life without shame, especially when you’re about to cheat at a game in front of the one person you promised to live a decent life from now on. In that sense, I sympathize with Young-dal, who wanted to become someone deserving of Jung-hee (though of course she accepts him just as he is). Their budding romance is unbelievably adorkable and sweet, and it’s cool that Jung-hee said there’s no reason for him to live his life with his head bowed in shame when she’s no better than he is.
I was particularly sad when Young-dal was tasked to beat Dong-soo as a test of his loyalty, then heartbroken when Dong-soo allowed it. Despite Young-dal’s flip-flopping loyalties and running to whoever benefits his goal of the second the most, it was the first instance when I saw him actually feel remorseful about his future actions. His genuine apologetic expression was clearly written on his face, and it was painful to see him throw punch after punch. I do think we have Jaejoong to thank for teasing those emotions out of that scene, from Young-dal’s hesitation to his guilt, and also Lee Beom-soo for being dramaland’s best acting soundboard (and more. Always more when it comes to him, but the actor is severely underutilized in this role).
It was interesting that it was Yang-ha who challenged Jung-hee to boldly dream higher and not to settle for being a casino dealer. I’ve no doubt that his feelings towards her influenced his decision to give her some preferential treatment, but I like that he makes the professional distinction that her past doesn’t bar her from achieving bigger and greater things. I do wish that Jung-hee spoke up more in this exchange, since his words seemed more like a lecture which (inadvertently or not) diminished her character’s presence, but someone’s gotta tell the small-town girl that she isn’t confined to her present reality. And Yang-ha’s underlying insult that she deserves someone better than Young-dal comes through, too.
Even with the easy takeover of the underground casino, I’m glad that there’s someone in that joint who won’t take that lying down. Maybe I haven’t been giving the lackey enough credit, but why wouldn’t Madame Jang suspect Young-dal and install a bug in his office? At the very least, those suspicions led to Yang-ha being tipped off about Young-dal’s scheme against Daejung. By the end of this hour, I have no idea how Dong-soo’s involvement will come into play, but we’re about to witness all three brothers hopefully in the same room for the first time in this series. On the bright side, it only took nine hours for us (and twelve years for them) to get there!

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