Age of Feeling / Inspiring Generation - Episode 9 (A SqueeCap)

kakashi: Two more episodes with the old team of writers and two more episodes without "less violence". I'm so in. And hey, even if the new head-writer destroys this drama (that's a possibility), I still say: 9 (or possibly 10) incredibly good episodes, that's more than I got from many, many other KDrama. Let's not be greedy! Embrace it while it's still good! And if it turns bad ... drown our sorrows in alcohol. JoAnne: I'm drinking already at today's news. Have you heard? New writer in, Kim Jae Wook out. I think they (or he) decided his character arc wouldn't get enough attention. We've been sort of complaining about the lack of favorites every other episode... Tightening up might not be bad, but damn. No Kim Jae Wook? I was waiting for that bromance! Yo! Mo? Whoaaaaaaaa.  
kakashi: Shiiiiiiiit! That's some major WTFuckery ... I guess we'll never know what made him do it, but my guess is KJW felt neglected. Happens with such a large cast. Oh well ...  
Episode 9

kakashi: We’re back to Mo’s insanely cool boots and insanely cool walk through town to Ill Gook Hwae’s doors. His minion does the archaic battle cry (love it), and Gaya gets to say her insanely cool “and I am Gaya” again to a worrying Shinichi. Thanks for repeating this, show, cause it’s awesome! And they fight: will it be Shin Jung-tae or Dandong that exchanges hands?
JoAnne: #WhenAManIsMoBetta
kakashi: #WhenAShowNeedsMoMo
kakashi: It’s quite interesting how surprised Mo seems when he sees the blood flowing down his hand. After being duly impressed with her “genius”, Mo says he will give “his best”. I must say, his best looks pretty good, but Gaya isn’t bested easily. In fact, it’s unclear who is having the upper hand, and Mo looks very, very serious.
JoAnne: Revenge: It's What Teaches You Superior Knife Skills.
kakashi: Boss Hwang awakes … in the Dobi truck! He is in the middle of nowhere, where Kkab-Sae (aka Dobi We Like) seems to have driven him. Boss Hwang demands the key, but … no key is available, Kkab-Sae (who is still sobbing) has thrown it away. All the cursing in the world doesn’t help, the truth slowly sinks in … and I have to stop the video. Gaaaaa, I thought I had grieved enough, but these two just kill me again. Kkab-Sae repeats what Poong-cha said to his unconscious Hyung in the forest, while Bong-shik asks “where is Poong-cha” over and over. Kkab-Sae is no crying a river. And then Bong-shik just screams and screams in grief like a wounded animal, and I am done. I need a break.
JoAnne: The first time I watched this I giggled nervously. The second time I watched this I cried.
kakashi: Back to Mo Il-hwa and Gaya. Have I mentioned how insanely cool he is? Even his fighting style is cool. There’s a couple of very close calls with her knives, but it’s also possible he measures her skill, because afterwards, he hits her solar plexus, twice. Twice, because she doesn’t give up the first time after going down. He says he will stop the combat here, and she admits she has lost. Mo’s minion Won-Pyeong seems relieved, while Shinichi is stone-faced ... and weary?
JoAnne:  There's this point where he cuts his eyes at her and I felt like he was directing her on what to do next, because he'd picked up on something (who knows what, we're just mortals and he's Mo) that let him know she didn't want to win but couldn't afford to LOOK like it. The subs make it seem like she was directing him, but that's not how it looked or felt to me.
kakashi: Mo Il-hwa acknowledges how great her skill is, but she also deliberately exposed her weaknesses in the last round, he says. She expected his next moves. Hmm … so he lost deliberately, is that what he is saying? So it was all a pretty dance for Shinichi’s sake? Only that Shinichi isn’t fooled, by the looks of him … In any case, Mo has “won”, and Jung-tae is free. Before Mo Il-hwa leaves, he observes, somewhat surprised (or satisfied?): “You love him”. Interesting … So I was right from the start! She has always protected Jung-tae.
JoAnne: Yeah because no one has ever hurt anyone they ever loved. She'd kill him if she had to. I'm supposed to give her a free pass because she'd feel bad about it?
kakashi: You don't believe in true love?! 
kakashi: Cut to Mo Il-hwa walking through the forest. Won-pyeong is carrying the still unconscious Jung-tae over his shoulder (uhm …. Is that the right way to carry a mortally wounded person?!). Oh dear, there’s about 25 people, fast approaching. They’re carrying sticks and look like hired gangsters always look, black suits, white shirts. They are here not by Gaya’s but by Shinichi’s orders, Mo observes. So you’re still being a dick, Shinichi? Mo realizes pretty quickly what this must be about: his headquarters are under attack right now – they want to either stall him or kill him.
JoAnne:  Mo and Minion feel like Batman and Robin to me, somehow. Yes, the 60's live-action version.
kakashi: He is right! At the same time, similarly clad men attack Mo Il-hwa’s house … and Aka appears! In his “monk” or rather assassin’s costume. I know who squeed long and hard here … and I promised to do a few (well, two) screencaps of him, so here we go!
JoAnne:  Ain't even gonna try to front on that one.  I did.  But I fear his story will be relegated to the writing room floor at this point.  If it makes a tighter overall story, that's ok.  
kakashi: In the forest, the men attack. Mo and Minion are really good, but there are so many! Mo says it’s already too late to defend the headquarters anyway. Just fight until you drop, then?
JoAnne:  So fortunate that forests there seem to consist of scrubby pines, widely spaced.
kakashi: More men fly through the air and through walls. Aka enters the house (wow, he is SO TALL!), with him is Evil Overlord Denkai Doyama, smiling a satisfied smile. I get the chills. He steps out on a balcony and his men fill the courtyard. So yes, they’re at Dandong: and now it’s theirs. But this is only a step towards to greater goal … they will conquer China next! (he mentions another boss … so Denkai Doyama is only Saruman … and there’s also a Sauron?? We need a season 2, I think!)
JoAnne:  It was a rather chilling scene, watching those men bow to him. 
kakashi: Minion down! Mo positions himself over his body to protect him. He fights like a lion, but they still manage to overpower him; no wonder, cause it’s about 1 to 20 (they seem to multiply like Mr. Smith in the Matrix). He smiles a bloody smile as the guys move in (I hope not to kill him!!!! Noooooo, not Mooooo!), when suddenly, help in the awesome form of Boss Hwang plus some Dobis appears! Doooooobi Gaaaaaang! They manage to win, though everyone is hurt. I need to say this here: if “less violence” means less awesome fighting, I’m going to have a rage fit!
JoAnne: I DEFINITELY had Matrix feels all over these scenes. And someone (Jubies33 I think) pointed out that Mo has more than a whiff of Prince about him, which I must have been feeling subconsciously because I've had Purple Rain on my mind lately. I thought it was because Prince appeared on New Girl, though. 
kakashi: Hwang checks Jung-tae’s vitals … he is really worried for our hero, and he wants to know of Mr Mo whether he will be alright. That depends whether he will regain consciousness, the response is. Hwang implores Mo to save Jung-tae: he cannot lose him too. Mo is in a lot of pain as he says he will take to kid to Daeryeon, where he has friends – Dandong has fallen. Hwang is shocked at the extent of Il Gook Hwae’s power: shouldn’t they unite and take revenge? But Mo shakes his head: now is not the time. They are too weak. Ill Gook Hwae’s goal is to conquer the whole continent, and their next goal will be Shanghai – once they leave that behind, they can gather strength and attack.
JoAnne: I will hold you to this, show. Boss Hwang and Mo, side by side and kicking ass, somewhere down the road. #MoBettaDobi
kakashi: Shinichi is angry: she will forever regret that she hasn’t killed Jung-tae. He is her mortal weakness. But Gaya isn’t cowed: What is he really afraid of? She wants to know of Shinichi. But Shinichi thinks she is reckless; she will put the whole organization in danger that way. Also, what would she have done if Mo had asked for something else? She tells him to mind his place; and she will not listen to a subordinate who hides his real intentions from his leaders. Let’s go to Dandong, she says – this time, I will not lose. But Dandong has already been taken, she hears.
JoAnne: You're a dick, but you're right.
kakashi: Open the door, and in comes Evil Overlord! Is she surprised to see him, he asks? Yeah, obviously, but look who isn’t: Shinichi! Good job, Denkai Doyama tells him and I do wonder … was this all a plot to get Mo Il-hwa out of Dandong? (lets go with yes) Overlord gets some tea and then he asks where she will go to next: Manchuria it is. He approves and tells her to turn it into an Opium route. Her new ally there will be the new Emperor of Manchuria. Just a puppet to their Japanese Emperor, she says, by Overlord warns her: be careful. Never curse the Chinese Emperor. Nonetheless, he is convinced she will fit into China well.
kakashi: Now that she is victorious, she demands to know about her mother – that was their deal, wasn’t it? And here we go … Aoki sent him a report, DD says. When her father was killed, a person “of interest” was in town: Jung-tae’s daddy.
JoAnne: Gaya, take note: Shinichi is yours to order around, but he's in constant (secret) communication with Grandpa. Aoki clearly has something for you, but he, too, is loyal to Grandpa first. Can't say I blame them... just saying it might be wise for a girl to watch her back.
kakashi: That name was familiar to him, so he looked into it: and ho, look what he found! There was a time he visited Ill Gook Hwae in Shanghai as way … the day her mother was killed.
JoAnne:  The worst kind of liar; the one who uses nothing but the truth to make the lie.
kakashi: Oh, look who’s here! Do-Ggoo is standing outside the gate, He is nervous, putting his hair in order. There’s something about this boy that makes it quite hard to outright hate him. Inside, falls on his knees in front of Shinchi (he looks particularly good in black, I think!), starting an awkward type of praise. He tells him to order him to do anything, he will follow him with his life. Oh dear … poor Dognose. He thinks he is part of Ill Gook Hwae now?! Eeeek, Shinichi looks at him haughtily: Who is this? He asks … Who is this person that speaks without permission? Do-Ggoo is surprised, didn’t Shinichi promise him he could become part of the organization? (just shut up, you idiot!!!) “Remove him”, Shinichi says. He is brutally beaten. He keeps screaming Shinichi’s name (what is wrong with me?! He looks so hot, when he is a total dick …), but that only makes him more angry: how dare he call his name?
JoAnne:  Seriously, Shinichi... I hope you made a good deal when you sold your soul.
kakashi: But Do-Ggoo has something to offer … in exchange for entrance to Ill Gook Hwae. He knows where Chun-ah is – and he will bring her to Shinichi. Shinichi seems interested, but Do-Ggoo refuses to tell him more; he wants to see Gaya first. That just results in an order to Kenjo to cut his head off. Do-Ggoo starts to plead for his life, but to Shinichi, he is just a dog who has finished a hunt. 
kakashi: The sword is already raised, but then Gaya comes and saves him. He seems to have a sensitive nose – so she will use him as her dog. Do-Ggoo kisses her shoes in gratitude, while Shinichi is once again extremely angry at Gaya. This guy knows too much, he says. Not that she cares: The hunt isn’t over, is her reply.
JoAnne: Hoping for lots of bickering between Shinichi and Do-Ggoo. Deadly, nearly fatal bickering.
kakashi: Fine with me, if it means lots of Shinichi :)
kakashi: Several things happen in rapid succession now:
Jung-tae is carried away from Shineuiji on a bark, with a pensive Mo Il-hwa. Jjang-Ddol is languishing in a cell, hoping for his friend to get him out (I think that character is dead too - nobody will miss him even if he never reappears again!)
Aoki receives a medal for his bravery (glad to have you back … but what happened to Freedom Fighter Ahjussi?! Dead?)
Do-Ggoo is initiated into Ill Gook Hwae … with the fish scales. He looks good in a Kimono … his first order from Gaya: to find Shin Jung-tae. Look who is pissed! Shinichi.
JoAnne:  Somebody's jealous, somebody's jealous!
kakashi: And then, we’re in Shanghai! It’s Daddy Shin, talking to a bespectacled person at Club Shanghai. This person is not on my asiawiki list, so I have no clue who he is … he tells Shin-daddy that Dandong has fallen. All that Daddy is interested in is his kids, though. His son is well, Mr Glasses says, as is Chung-ah. Liar!!!! But Shin-Daddy cannot go to see him, because Aoki is on his trail. Also, he has to be very careful: Ill Gook Hwae are coming. As he leaves forever, Mr. Glasses has the decency to murmur that he is very sorry … for lying to Daddy Shin, of course.
JoAnne: Is he The FortuneTeller? Besides being a lying liar who lies?
kakashi: Enter Crazy Eyes! (Kim Sung-Oh as Jung Jae-Hwa). Daddy Shin is his superior, and Jae-Hwa is worried about a guy named Yamamoto, a Karate champion who is beating up their guys. Yeah, show … keep us on our toes! New people en masse … we’ve learned all the old names by now. Daddy Shin is leaving, and Jae-hwa isn’t pleased about it: how long he will be gone this time? Six months? A year? If he stays away for too long, he will take over his position! Shin Daddy doesn’t care at all: if it’s good for the Korean people, he is fine with it. That, Jae-hwa seems to like a LOT.
JoAnne:  I liked how his face didn't change all that much there at the end, and yet it changed completely. He's dangerous. I think he's like Do-Ggoo up to a point: they both keep something in reserve that will save them if needed. The difference will be that Do-Ggoo is better at it.
kakashi: Jung-tae wakes up! Mo is standing next to him, commending him on his fast healing skills. Jung-tae wants to know where he is, how much time has passed, and then wants to leave immediately, to see his people. But Mo tells him that the people he wants to meet are no longer there… they are far from Shineuiji. He battled death for over a week. In a room that looks so cold I start to shiver from just watching this, Uncle Mo hands Jung-tae a letter from Hwang Bong-shik. It’s a farewell letter, and I’m tearing up immediately. Hwang tells Jung-tae that he sent out message in bottles to search for Chung-ah over three years; and he realized that all the bottles gathered at one place before being carried away to the ocean. But Chung-ah’s body never showed up there – she must be alive. He tells Jung-tae to keep looking for his sister. He tells him to live well and asks to meet again – for sure. And finally, te also tells him to take revenge for Poong-cha … which is a total shock to Jung-tae. And then, KHJ shows that his acting lessons have TOTALLY paid off, as he screams and screams in pain and grief and break my heart all over again.
JoAnne:  He emoted like a mofo, that's for sure. I liked very much that Mo Il Hwa just sat there quietly and patiently.  He didn't say anything and he didn't move, he was just there while Jung Tae lost it. Being there for someone like that is good, but hard.
kakashi: And here we go ... Time Jump! It's 5 years later and we are where we started 8 episodes ago. Jung-tae is a professional fighter now, or rather, a "sparring partner". But the guy in charge of the fighting wants him to go fighting for money. Jung-tae agrees rather quickly ... he seems to be interested in the money and demands a 60/40 split. This is a much more deadly Jung-tae than before, one that has stopped caring about the good in the world, living his day to day live without a vision. (by the way, I am curious to know when these sequences were filmed ... I guess before it all aired? So what are they filming right now?)
JoAnne: LOVED how neatly they circled back to this and was thrilled to see it again because - it's damn good.
kakashi: Gaya! But without Shinichi. Don't like. She is on the tail of Shin Daddy. Not good. He seems to be injured already, and she says it's a good night to die. She goes in alone and throws a very badly hurt Shin Daddy around. We're at the opening scene! He is ready to die, this one ... and he says he has been waiting for her. Yes, he says, he killed her father. But that was her father's final request to him. And now, it's his final request to her! He is in the same agony right now - and he is asking for the coup de grâce. It dawns on her that who wounded Shin Daddy must be the same person that killed her father! (we know who that is!!!) And her mother! But Shin Daddy refuses to tell her anything. He wants this hell to die with him - revenge only begets bigger revenge. It's a useless quest. He begs her to end his suffering ... and she does. But she vows to find the person that is responsible for this. Bye, bye Shin Young-chool ...  When she leaves the house, two shadows appear outside the paper wall.  
JoAnne: And THIS. This was good! I do wish there'd been an opportunity for the son to realize what his father was in his actual lifetime, but oh well. If the trade off is that Gaya realizes there are forces behind this that she may not be aware of, so that she's on her guard? All to the good. By the way: my vote for the shadows behind the screen are Aka and Denkai.
kakashi: While his father takes his last breath and Gaya decides that his body should be left there for the world to find, Jung-tae is in the "arena" fighting this other dude. This we have seen already, but it's still awesome. Please let "less violence" not mean less fights. Please! We all know how it ends: Jung-tae loses (deliberately), his "boss" gets a lot of money from the betting and Jung-tae also gets his share.
JoAnne:  I love the fights, even though this one reminds me of a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. Hmm... Shin Jung Tae, grandfather of Jean Claude Van Damme...
kakashi: He goes out to drink alone afterwards, where his fighting buddy finds him and starts the fight, because he has realized that it was rigged. Jung-tae beats him up for real this time, and Wang Baek-San appears: we called him Kungfu Master before, but his fighting style seems like Mo's. He tells Jung-tae that his father has died. Jung-tae seems a tiny little bit shocked, but then says he has no father. Sigh ... still not over it? Wang Baek-San tells him to come to Shanghai; he'll be waiting.
JoAnne:  Two things.  No, three things: 1) Girl says he's a puzzle with no moves; usually it's drinks, gifts, sex, Jung Tae responds that his way is sex first, THEN he buys gifts, and THEN he buys drinks. 2) Guy is dressed in black leather pants, a black t-shirt, a silver necklace, a leather jacket, and a silk scarf/pashmina.  I didn't realize that this was the style in '30's China. 3) Jung Tae-ah, you kick ass, and your timeline works for me, too.
kakashi: Outside, later, a guy puts a note into Jung-tae's hand. It's from Dognose! He tells him to come to Shanghai, too ... maybe he'll hear some new about his sister there. And that does the trick! Jung-tae boards a ship and goes to Shanghai.
kakashi: At the same time, Gaya is travelling to Shanghai by train. A minion explains the layout of Shanghai to her. The place that "sticks like a thorn" is Bangsamtong, the Korean neighborhood; ruled by Crazy Eyes aka Jung Jae-Hwa. Gaya is quite certain she can take that thorn out. But ... where is Shinichi, I ask???
JoAnne:  Gaya has herself some hot young minions now. Shinichi is off staring in the mirror pensively. Hime-nim! he asks his reflection. Yes? his reflection responds.
kakashi: Jung-tae is getting off the ship (wow, he is so cool ... he doesn't even have any luggage!), taking in all the sights ... there are many Korean suffering by the cruel hands of the Japanese masters. A young girl is being harrassed by two Japanese: they bet on whether she would eat dog food or not. They say she stole rice cakes, which she didn't. When one of the men slaps her and says she'll have to sell her body if she doesn't have money, Jung-tae intervenes. He beats them up good and thorough. But rather than being grateful, the girl is terrified! Hurry up and flee, she says, before you get caught by Hiroshi.
JoAnne: psssssssssssffffffffffft
kakashi: A few steps further, Jung-tae is stopped by the very same ... Hiroshi. Who is wearing the black Ill Gook Hwae Kimono (something that Jung-tae notices). He threatens to cut Jung-tae's head off for hurting his men. But then, he goes against him without the sword first ... yeah, others have tried that, too ... - but Jung-tae has gotten so much better at fighting since! Out comes the sword, but that doesn't help Hiroshi much. Jung-tae quotes some Musashi (hehe). Jung-tae is totally enjoying this: it's been a while since he got to fight a real Samurai (Shinichiiiiiiii! Where are you?). There is no question who is better in this fight. But after downing Hiroshi for the umpteenth time, Jung-tae says he'll have to end this now, cause he is busy - and goes and catches a ride.
JoAnne:  That was fun. It might come back to bite him in the butt, though.
kakashi: Nice butt. I hope it doesn't get hurt. 
kakashi: Dobi skills! He jumps on a truck that is passing by. And look who's already in there? Park Chul-Min! His character is called Old Man Fly. He is usually only carrying corpses in his truck ... He must be new here not to recognize him? Old Man Fly says. He quickly tells him a few things to do in Shanghai and then says: "If you want to live another day, leave this city. This place is a death trap".
JoAnne:  Oh, neat tie-in to Dobi.  I didn't even make the connection.  I like this guy, I bet we see more of him and that he's a lot more than he says he is.


kakashi: Even though we got to see a lot of material we had already seen in episode 1, I liked this episode for showing us a matured (and hardened) Jung-tae, seemingly disillusioned, but still looking for his sister. We also got clarity about Gaya's feelings towards Jung-tae, though saying it's love sounds much easier than it actually is. These two? They can very clearly NEVER be. I'd advise them to not even try.
JoAnne: Seriously: it's worse than being allergic to saliva. Just saying.

kakashi: I am kind of happy we have moved on to the next leg of this journey and have come full-circle ... but I'm also sad. Because moving to Shanghai means leaving a few awesome characters behind, mostly the beloved Dobi (who are still awesome, though a little less, without Poong-cha). Sigh. Poong-cha ... the two grief-scenes in this episode really killed me. So powerful.
JoAnne:  I feel like we are moving at breakneck speed, honestly, but there's VERY little problem with dropped story lines and this drama has been really good about circling back when appropriate.  Seriously:  the opening scenes, which are usually fleshed-out versions of things we'd already seen, are very well-done.  Flashbacks, too.  They add something to what we already know more often than not, and so I don't feel like I'm being TOLD something so much as I feel like we're peeling back layers of story to get to what REALLY happened.  

kakashi: Having such a large cast is awesome, but it also means that a lot of the side-characters don't get a lot of air time. Aka is definitely a rare thing to behold, and Aoki is as well. I hope I do not have to add Shinichi to this list, because ... yeah. I have a thing for him. He is a bastard de luxe, but I cannot help it. Moving the story to Shanghai means getting to know the rest of the cast (or at least more of the cast) and I am looking forward to getting to know them. Let them be as awesome as the ones we've met before!
JoAnne:  Well in addition to the deaths, there's already been one casualty of the large plot that we know of - I think definite word isn't out yet but it seems pretty certain that Kim Jae Wook is gone.  I have mixed feelings as I definitely enjoyed Soo Ok, but he could be cut from the story without damaging the core of it, and let's be honest:  where dramas falter is with huge casts and multiple story lines that become too much to manage.  So although I pretty much ADORE everyone in this cast of thousands, I can support some paring down if it will make it possible to continue to give us an awesome story.  One other thing that was really noticeable in this drama is the visual effect of it.  Whoever is doing the cinematography, whatever happens to this story?  That person deserves an award.  Fantastic shots.  The surroundings become as much a part of the event as anything else.  And the styling of the sets is just amazing.  Argh! I love this show SO MUCH.