27 January 2014


Age of Feeling / Inspiring Generation - Episode 4 (A SqueeCap)

Posted by JoAnne on January 27, 2014
JoAnne: I'm still on a bit of an adrenaline high after the events in Episode Three, so let's hope that Four continues the excellent work. Still, we've now laid out the crux of the problem between the young lovers, so how long can it be before we time jump to the adults? I'd say four episodes is plenty for backstory, but I really just want to stay here for a while longer... 
kakashi: I usually HATE the backstories in sageuks. I get so bored by the same-old-stories and want to get to the real deal (i.e. main cast) more quickly. But not in this drama. This isn't just a backstory that explains why our hero is the way he is (though it also is, of course), but much more to me. I guess it is the mysteries that we get introduced to? This is a rich and exciting world and understanding it has only marginally to do with the hero and so much more with all the characters around him. In fact, I like the "backstory" so much, I hope we will go back to it occasionally ... I can hope, right?!

Episode 4

JoAnne: Young Chul races through the streets after Aka but all he finds is The Fortuneteller, casually leaning against a black car. Is that the car we see Aka and Shinichi in sometimes? Who IS this man? (likely the Big Boss of FreedomFightersCentral, or something like that). The Fortuneteller orders Young Chul into the car and won't take no for an answer. 'All you had to do was ignore him. Did you have to take it this far?' NO idea who 'him' is - Shinjo? Aka? It's for Jung Tae, Young Chul pleads, but it seems that holds no water with The Fortuneteller. In the end, Young Chul appears to acquiesce, but asks for a favor. We are not privy to the details.
kakashi: It likely involves stupid sacrifices. 
JoAnne: It's a misty, grey day, and Gaya sits by the river with her father's ashes, Shinichi standing silently behind her. She opens the satchel in her lap and looks through her father's measly effects; that photo of the young family in happier times, and note hidden in some sort of cloth. The note warns her not to trust the man who wears the other half of her medallion - that man killed her mother, and will kill her too. (Who can we rule out, hmmm?) She hides the note and the amulet hanging around her neck.
kakashi: We cannot rule out anyone. This is quite exciting, in fact ... well, Aka is certainly a prime contender, but he isn't the one pulling the strings. He is one of the puppets being pulled by the strings. I would guess that Shinichi isn't the one, but nope, cannot entirely rule him out either.
JoAnne: Shinichi tells Gaya that it's time to go, but she refuses without more details. Shinichi is not a sharing kind of guy, though. He won't tell her about her mother, or who killed her mother. When she asks why Jung Tae's father killed her father, instead of saying he can't answer, he just shakes his head. Is he trying to tell her she got that wrong, or is he tired of saying no? As Gaya becomes more and more upset, Shinichi simply invites her to find out for herself: who she is, who her parents are, why they had to die, all of it. Gaya points out that even though he tried to hide everything - the evidence of her father's murder? - he forgot one thing. She pulls the still-bloody knife used to murder her father from her satchel and holds it to her own throat. She knows she's important somehow, and she'll bargain with the only chip she has.
kakashi: She isn't trying very hard, though. If she had really wanted to kill herself, she would have just stuck it in there, without the long speech. So, maybe, she is testing him. 
JoAnne: Shinichi easily disables her, and not for the first time I marvel at how perfect he is in profile (oh .... YES). Gaya thanks him for saving her, but points out that he can't be there all the time, and she'll keep trying until she succeeds. I love watching Shinichi's face while he listens to Gaya. He always seems proud, somehow. Admiring, concerned, proud - she really is important to him, and I'm dying to find out why.
kakashi: I love watching Shinichi full stop! But ... I do wonder a bit at Gaya. She does ask questions, but never about him! Wouldn't the first question be: "Who are you, incredibly handsome warrior? And why do you protect me?! And why is your nose so gorgeous?"
JoAnne: I love his hair line.
JoAnne: Gaya agrees to follow the path Shinichi sets out. She's determined and brave, but just how young she is is clear when her voice breaks with sobs as she declares her intent to find out what happened to her mother. Shinichi looks sad and regretful as he replies that he can't tell her anything - but he can promise her one thing: as long as he lives, she will never die. Until now I'd thought of his concern for her as brotherly, or perhaps even fatherly - but I wonder if he won't fall a bit in love with Gaya, down the road?
kakashi: But only from afar. He strikes me as a very tragic figure. He will most likely die an honorable, but utterly sad death.
JoAnne: Oh, the tears we will shed for thee, Noble Shinichi.
JoAnne: In a familiar hotel room (really, the Gaksital scenery is just DISTRACTING) Gaya is helped out of her clothing by a silent Japanese woman. There is a rose tattoo on Gaya's back, and this woman recognizes it. Hmmm. Cut to Gaya dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. Her hair is styled and decorated beautifully. Make up in soft, gentle tones is applied discreetly.
kakashi: A rose tattoo. What a classic.
JoAnne: Shinichi is watching, and the look on his face is pained, somehow. Cut to a young (chubby!) (haha, first thing I noticed, too!) Shinichi watching an older woman he calls Princess Ryoko. Clearly, he worships her. He has vowed to be her bodyguard, and she accepts his offer with the sad comment that there is no one else in this place to protect her. There's a neat bit where the older Shinichi looks through the door at his younger self and the Princess. His eyes are suspiciously shiny, but when the scene shifts to the present and he realizes Gaya is looking back at him, Shinichi turns and walks away. Is this Gaya's mother?
kakashi: It definitely is, judging from the fotos we saw earlier. So, Shinichi was devoted to Gaya's mother, but much too young to truly be her bodyguard. Maybe he became her bodyguard later? In any case, she was murdered (maybe on his watch?), so one way or another, he has failed. Also, Gaya is royalty of sorts. So ... this is very much political.
JoAnne: Shinichi returns to his room, where Dog Nose waits kneeling. He's made himself so subservient that his head is nearly touching the ground. It's very disturbing to me to see people in that position. Shinichi is pleased that Dog Nose has agreed to join him, but laughs when he realizes that the younger man is afraid of his boss. It's because along with the kicks and curses came the occasional pat on the head, Shinichi claims, and he informs Dog Nose that cowards die three times while those who live courageously only die once. I have no idea what that means, especially in connection with the first part of the conversation.
kakashi: This Dog Nose ... he is an interesting character. But why are they in a hotel that looks exactly like one of the Swiss mountain hotels built in the 1960s?
JoAnne:  Exactly what I thought the first time we spent time here, in Gaksital...
JoAnne: Dog Nose pledges his loyalty and obedience and receives his marching orders, but alone in the hallway he sounds a different tune. He'd rather die 100 times to live once and he didn't get his name as a dog because he wagged his tail - he got his name because he killed and ate his master. Innnnnnnteresting.
kakashi: Hm. Hmmmmmmmmmm.... who and what is this guy?! He quite cleverly fooled Shinichi. But why? Against whom is his hate directed?
JoAnne: I do really like Dog Nose. As a character.
JoAnne: Downtown, Ok Ryeon sees Gaya with her new look and watches in puzzlement as the girl gets into a car with Shinichi and drives off. When she returns home, Jung Tae is waiting. He apologizes to Ok Ryeon and says that when he came to his senses, he found himself there waiting for her. When things get tiring and hard, she is what comes to his mind. How convenient, Jung Tae. His apology is not very comforting to Ok Ryeon and once again I'm impressed with how she refuses to shy away from the truth. She calls him out on his bullshit, but then she tells him saw Gaya leaving. Without a word, he takes off running and my heart just... oof. Yes, Gaya is more exciting, but so what? She also wants to kill you, dude.
kakashi: I am not so sure she really wants to kill him. And at this moment, all Jung-tae wants is to makes sure she knows that it's all a big misunderstanding. He doesn't like his Daddy-o, but he is quite certain his Daddy-o isn't the killer. I am guessing that Jung-tae doesn't know his Daddy very well, cause he clearly isn't just a hobo who doesn't come home. 
JoAnne: At the train station, just about to board, Gaya turns to the minion Shinichi was just instructing and shares an order of her own: Burn her house to the ground. Well ok, Miss High and Mighty all of a sudden. Jung Tae shows up. Gaya nearly kills him. He promises again to find her father's murderer and then they stare at each other soulfully. Gaya boards the train and never looks back, even though Jung Tae chases it out of the station, screaming her name. Why? Who knows.
kakashi: Cause he lurves her, of course!!!! And again, by taking the initiative (i.e. the sword), Gaya saves his life, if she wants to or not (I'm guessing wants. She also seems to believe Jung-tae and wants him to find her father's killer). Shinichi certainly wouldn't have hesitated to strike. 
JoAnne: Back on Mom's Hill, Jung Tae mopes sadly. Alone in town, Chung Ah purchases a few things and is walking home with her parcels when her bag breaks, spilling vegetables in the street. Or maybe she let go because of a pain spasm... it does look like she clutched her chest. Dog Nose kneels in front of her, offering to help. He calls her a little kid and refers to himself as Ahjussi and oh! his smile is very sweet. I'm not sure what's happening here. Does he know who she is or not? That would make a big difference.
kakashi: He is faaaar too nice for this to be real. Unless Dog Nose fools everybody around him and this is his real persona. But I guess not. But thanks show for letting me guess at all! 
JoAnne:  I'm sure you're right but now I want to see this guy in something where he's a sweetheart.
JoAnne: He follows her home and helps to get the fire going and seems to be very genuinely trying to help when Jung Tae arrives, takes one look, and flies through the door with fists at the ready. Jung Tae is beating Dog Nose pretty soundly in the yard, and Dog Nose is trying to protect himself and explain the situation. He is very definitely not trying to hit back, and his expression is a little too innocent, almost. Chung Ah calls her brother a gangster and tells him to stop what he's doing. The look on his face is pretty priceless.
kakashi: Hahaha, yeah, well said. A little "too innocent", exactly.
JoAnne: On their own now somewhere outside of the yard, Dog Nose continues with the pretty reasonable behavior, only taking one swing at Jung Tae (that he deliberately doesn't land) in response to Jung Tae's fairly insincere apology. Dog Nose points out that Chung Ah looks pretty sick, like medicine won't be enough, and he tells Jung Tae to come find him if he ever needs money. Hmm... was that the reason he got involved in the first place?
kakashi: So ... he knew exactly who Chung-ah was. This is part of some plan. Oh, I don't like this.

JoAnne: When Jung Tae returns home Chung Ah has gone to bed. He apologizes to her, and she tearfully claims that she can't remember when she saw him happy last. All these things, he is doing because of her. She starts to say it would be better if she were dead, but Jung Tae is so horrified at the thought he doesn't allow her to finish her sentence.
kakashi: Ah, sad fate. Very sad fate ... 
JoAnne: We're in Japan! Shinichi warns Gaya to keep her eyes open and tells her that this place they're at (Ilgookhwae HQ) - it's basically hell. OMG it's Cutie Soo! I forgot he was in this! (deep breaths, JoAnne. Deep breaths.) Nope nope nope no deep breathing more like hyperventilating. Cutie Soo (ok, his name is Aoki this time around) is fighting topless with Aka the Freaky Assassin. Yeah, I'm dead. Both men are scarred from earlier fights and wearing long flowy pants as they fight with swords. They are quite fit. So dead. So very dead.
kakashi: So, I made about 100000 gifs and screencaps. Oh well. 
JoAnne: Looking around, but I don't SEE them... I am sure we could - hey, maybe just a post full of gifs of that fight? With commentary? Salacious, of course?
JoAnne: Apparently they're doing some sort of deadly game, where if Aoki doesn't land a knife in his first ten hits he'll be killed by Aka. Gulp. What about a nice game of Monopoly, guys? You'll still come to blows but geez, at least no one will DIE. Aoki is down to his last hit. Make it a good one, Aka says in not so many words. I find myself wanting to cover his freaky eye to see if that helps me decipher the expression on his face. What does he want? Aoki thinks smart and lands his blow. He is congratulated by Aka, and then warned. This won't work again. The two men walk off in opposite directions.
kakashi: Oh my. So much testosterone. It's hard to breath. Also: none of them wear the other half of the medallion - unless they have taken it off, of course.
JoAnne:  This is entirely too distracting for early in the morning at work.
JoAnne: Aka's path takes him directly past Shinichi and Gaya. Gaya stares at this terrifying person and he pauses next to her to stare back. Again with the inscrutable look. Does he like his work? Or does he just dress the part? Shinichi informs Gaya that in 2 weeks it will be her turn to undergo that test. Yeahhhh, ok. He describes Aka as both the first and last hurdle she must jump.
kakashi: "Does he like his work?" buahahaha, JoAnne, you crack me up. Cause I just imagined him going to counselling, where he breaks down crying because of his low job satisfaction.
JoAnne: I laughed loud and long and two people came to see why.  Thanks.
JoAnne: Next, Shinichi meets with Kim Gap Soo, the Evil Japanese Overlord. Shinichi answers his questions about Gaya - who is probably his granddaughter - and is told that he has 3 years to turn her into a better fighter than her mother ever was. Grandpa won't see her before then. Shinichi wants to know what will be done with Gaya if she can't match up to her mother. We don't see the answer, but hmmmm. We already know he promised his life to protect hers. Did the grandfather kill his own daughter?
kakashi: So ... this is a bit complicated and we have no clue. So be it! Ohhhhh, Shinichi .... please don't die! 
JoAnne: Jung Tae is eating with Rock Head but is clearly distracted and worried about something. Without saying a word he gets up and leaves. Rock Head protests but wastes no time in scooping Jung Tae's left overs into his own dish. Jung Tae has gone to Bool Gam Headquarters, where he returns to Dog Nose the wallet he'd found on his steps while talking to Chung Ah. He assumes it was a ploy to get him there, and it appears that he is right. Dog Nose faults him for being too honest, claiming that it makes him feel pathetic. He wants Jung Tae to jump a train for him for 50,000 won. Jung Tae agrees to do it for 100,000.
kakashi: Noooooooooo, Jung-tae, nooooooooooooo! Don't frigging do it ......
JoAnne: Meanwhile, back in Japan, Shinichi begins training Gaya. She's afraid and tentative and he lands a lot of blows but she does make progress. In Korea, Jung Tae is learning how to jump trains. The maps and the mock ups are so cute it kills me. Those Dobis, sheesh.
kakashi: So, JoAnne ... which School would you rather go to? Dobi School or Shinichi School?
JoAnne:  Do not make me choose, no!  I cannot!
JoAnne: And then one night, while Gaya is soaking in the tub, Aoki appears. She's alarmed, but he tells her she doesn't need to fear him: they are in the same boat, being raised as dogs for the same master. He offers her some advice when it comes to her first meeting with Aka. The rules of the game are that the first move must be hers, and that man has no patience. Gaya wants to know why he'd help and he just says again that they're in the same boat, but his smile tells me he knows a LOT more about that boat than she does.
kakashi: This smile there on the right? *nosebleed*. But I am not sure we can trust him. 
JoAnne: Back in Korea, Jung Tae is preparing for his first official run as a jumper. He leaves his sister sleeping quietly in the middle of the night. At the Dobi HQ, Jung Tae stands before Boss Hwang and PoongCha who are gathered with Dissenting Dobi, Dobi dude, and Rock Head to see the newbie off. Hwang offers him a chance to back out and says no one will think less of him for doing so, but Jung Tae is determined. The older man offers him a pair of well worn gloves and says he'll be able to hang on better, using them. Awww, are they his old gloves?
kakashi: Awwwww, they so are.
JoAnne: At the house, Chung Ah wasn't sleeping after all. She is carefully setting out a new suit of clothes and when she's done she rests a letter on top. She's dressed in her best and even has a ribbon in her hair and I feel very, very nervous.
kakashi: Time to say goodbye.
JoAnne: Jeez this is all happening at the same time! Watching this, scenes alternated a bit more between Japan and Korea and it was very nerve wracking. I can't write it that jumpy way though. Gaya takes a stance in front of Aka and my heart pounds. Of course she'll be fine, but still. Dude is scary. When she doesn't move, he asks if she's giving up. Never, she says. But she will decide the moment of her first strike. Aka smiles and settles in, but he really doesn't have patience and as the minutes drag out it shows.
kakashi: He sweats. Man. This must be so nerve wracking for the kiddo ...
JoAnne:  I didn't really notice this at the time, but look at Shinichi in that gif. Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
kakashi: He lowers his sword to ask just how long she's going to wait and she chooses that moment to throw the knife. Asa! It hits him in the side. Hits him. Yeah. She buries that thing 6 inches deep. The look on both Shinichi's and Aka's faces is priceless. Aka pulls out the knife and says 'I'll see YOU in six months' before stalking away. He doesn't see Gaya collapse from nerves behind him. From his vantage point at a distance, Aoki gives a satisfied huff.
kakashi: Goooooooood scene! But this trick won't work the second time, will it? 
JoAnne: Jung Tae and friends joke to lighten the tension on the hillside as they wait for the train. In the end though, their affection is shown by the long hugs each offers the other. He makes minor clothing adjustments while he waits, and then as the train whistles its approach Jung Tae takes off running.
Kakashi: That's why these trains can only be jumped at very specific locations; they need to slow down a bit. All the time, I'm thinking: Don't people notice the running person? I.e. the engineman? Or the passengers?!
JoAnne: Oh, whoa, this is not like when kids jump trains in American movies. Those are moving slowly through the train yard. This is like a scene from Mission Impossible. Holy crap. He makes it but it looks like JUST barely.
kakashi: Well, it's Dobi-training, baby.
JoAnne: Crossing the border at Dandong, Jung Tae finds the right spot and makes a successful jump. A couple approach, acting concerned that he might have hurt himself, but they are in fact robbers and steal his merchandise after stabbing him a couple of times. They leave him for dead by the railroad tracks.
kakashi: So ... is this Dog Nose's doing?!
JoAnne: Shitshitshitshitshitshit. Chung Ah is standing at the edge of a cliff high above the river. Shit. I mean, we knew - but still. She takes off her shoes and places them neatly to the side. Why? I don't know. Maybe they're a signpost so someone knows where she jumped from.
kakashi: Or she is just a very neat person. 
JoAnne: Back in Korea, Rock Head waits for Jung Tae, who doesn't appear. Ok Ryeon meanders through the streets and runs into Rock Head outside Jung Tae's house. They each make up stories for the other and head inside to check on Chung Ah. When Ok Ryeon discovers the letter, the two friends take off running to find her before it's too late. Mal Sook helps, and eventually the entire gibang is shut down so that everyone can search for the girl.
kakashi: Ack, so sad ... and so pointless. 

JoAnne: Jung Tae briefly comes to consciousness to see two mysterious men in black standing over him. They carry him off somewhere for treatment and both of the Dobi Hyungs come for him. One of the times that Jung Tae comes to he he hears one of the men in black saying to the Dobi Hyungs that they will owe him big for this. We don't see his face, but I know that voice: it's Song Jae Rim! Another squee-worthy candidate I totally forgot was going to be in this drama. Seriously, it's just getting ridiculous in here.
kakashi: Do you think Song Jae-rim will ever be cast again as anything else but the creepy killer type after Two Weeks?! And ... who IS this guy?! Any connection to Dog Nose? I do NOT like that the Dobi's are in debt to him...
JoAnne: The next time Jung Tae wakes up, he's back in Korea and Ok Ryeon is watching over him at the apothecary shop. He is shocked to learn it's been three days and his first thought is to go find Chung Ah, who must be worried. Ok Ryeon's face is his first clue that something is wrong, and her inability to speak tells him all he needs to know about his little sister. She takes him to the cliff and his break down is a fitting tribute - imagine the horror of knowing that your sibling killed themselves so as not to be a burden on you? I'd say that would make a man bitter, yes. Sadly, it's also a good bye to young Jung Tae.
kakashi: Do you think it's good bye forever?! There still so many questions!!! 
JoAnne: In Japan, Shinichi watches once again as a woman puts the finishing touches to her hair and face; Gaya is all grown up.
kakashi: It took me a second to realize that we had switched! 
JoAnne: Somewhere else, one mysterious man pays another for leading him to a hideout. It's grown Jung Tae! He bursts in on a group of men and commences to kick ass. The music is thrilling and Kim Hyun Joong totally rocks the tough guy look. He is SO much better this way than as a flower, seriously. God I hope he can act a little bit now. I can tell you he does REALLY well in the fight scenes, at least.
kakashi: What she just said. I want this to be good so much it hurts! 

JoAnne: The story has been well set up and I'm excited to see what happens next. It doesn't feel like we stayed in the past too long, in the sense that I'm not heartbroken to see the kids go, but I do think they did a great job and gave us a really solid foundation for the actions that come next. I really really REALLY want this to keep being good. My one problem so far has been with Gaya, really, and even then maybe it's a small thing. She was just so QUICK to turn into this bloodthirsty vengeful killer when 30 minutes before she'd been a sweet girl with a crush, and then she really adapts very quickly to this idea that she's someone important without any clue at all who she is or why that's true. 'Burn my house down' - like she'd been giving orders since birth. Puh-lease. And then of course, there's no way she could actually fight against someone like Aka after two weeks so of course she has to have the geeeeeeeeeeeenius idea. Anyway, that's my one quibble so far.
kakashi: I am quite sad the teen-story is over. I am not sure how much Dobi-gang there will be in the adult world (my Poong-cha! I already miss you!) and I love stories in which young people have to prove they are worthy. I would have loved to see him jump more trains, I would have loved to see what happens to young Jung-tae after the death of his sister. The adult version is a bit too cool ... this is already a full-grown hero, not just one in the making; or at least an almost full-grown one. That said, if the show keeps its pace as before, I'm all good.

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