Age of Feeling / Inspiring Generation - Episode 8 (A SqueeCap)

Show is picking up speed at a pretty steady space and like Kakashi, I'm starting to brace myself for the body count to rise. Since there are so many people we love, this can only be a painful journey. Bring me chocolate, someone... although I think that by the end of NEXT week only booze will suffice.
kakashi: This episode killed one of my favorites (even THE favorite?). I've watched it four times ... I cried once. I cried twice. I cried a third time and then, I fast forwarded through that scene the fourth time, cause I didn't want to cry again. But I still cried. So I really, really love this show and I really, really hate it right now. 
Episode 8

JoAnne: After being asked for help 'winning against swords' Boss Hwang brings Jung Tae to the gibang. Hmmm... somehow those aren't the swords... oh - wait, no - they're there to see the Freedom Fighter, who's really named Choi Po Soo. I like Ahjussi Choi better than Freedom Fighter. That makes him sound like a Marvel Comic.
kakashi: Yes. It's good to use their real names. One of our Twitter friends reminded me gently but firmly the other day that our weird way of naming people is not for everyone. That said, I liked Freedom Fighter Ahjussi. Cause he is a Freedom Fighter Ahjussi! 
JoAnne: I did see that - the thing is, we didn't make up those names. Those were names used in subs.
JoAnne: Ahjussi used to be in the royal guard and he's good with swords, so they're asking him to train Jung Tae. I think I heard somewhere that only the Japanese had swords during this time? Judging by the sober looks everyone has whenever any mentions fighting against swords, it makes sense.
kakashi: These kind of sexy katana swords that our sexy Shinichi carries are indeed a very Japanese thing. Plus, the ability to carry swords (and other weapons) was an embattled right throughout the ages, often given to only a select few. Shinichi is of an old warrior breed, or so it seems, but carrying swords publicly was actually forbidden for most people in Japan after 1876, in an attempt to weaken the samurai class. But I guess that law did not extend to the Imperial Japanese protectorate formerly known as Korea? Or maybe the makers of Age of Feeling think (like me!) that a "Samurai" without a sword would look ridiculous? Or maybe he isn't a Samurai at all, but officially military? 
Alrighty. Back to our story ... Freedom Fighter Ahjussi looks very much like one of my aunts! And I like how much in awe of him Boss Hwang is.    
JoAnne: That incredibly inspiring music starts up and we get the training montage, which is very pleasant, indeed. Ahjussi makes swords sound like mystical, otherwordly creatures, not pieces of metal wielded by fallible men. Jung Tae gets better and better at avoiding blows and getting in punches and finally, he really lands one on Ahjussi's ribs. Poor guy! He goes to his knees, complaining that it felt like he got hit by metal.
kakashi: LOVE training montages. LOVE movies that are about training (like karate kid). LOVED this whole scene, including the instructions, only that the learning curve was a bit too steep. But I guess Jung-tae is a natural genius when it comes to fighting. 
JoAnne: Ahjussi says that he knows one other person who could hit like that, and then asks Jung Tae if the person he will be fighting is 'stronger than me ' - yes probably. And there's no way to stop him from going ? - no, there's not. So then Jung Tae is going there to die? Because going against someone you know is stronger and expect will win is a death wish, BUT: Ahjussi did know one man who won in that situation. Of course, that was Jung Tae's father. Ahjussi entreats Jung Tae to do his best and to live. Jung Tae looks appropriately determined.
kakashi: Things always come back to Jung-tae's father. Boyo's a bit thick, it seems ... I would have started to wonder who my father really is about 5 years ago in his stead. But I like the little nod right there, at the end. Yes, sir, understood, sir. I need to live. 
JoAnne: More exciting music, and now Jung Tae is beating up a tree and looking mighty nice in a black turtleneck.
kakashi: We interrupt this recap for a quick set of pictures, be right back! 
JoAnne: I guess that warms you up pretty well, because next he's shirtless, running as hard as he can up the side of a mountain. I ain't complaining. Kim Hyun Joong is a lovely man, not skinny at all, with really smooth, even-toned skin. I approve. Oh yes, I do indeed.
kakashi: Oh! oh, oh, ohhhhhh .... yumyumyum. But .... wasn't this incredibly cold?! Quickly, put something back on, cupcake!! 
JoAnne:  This is one instance where the difficulty some experience with 'l' vs 'r' or 'b' vs 'v' comes in very handy, because "I want to love you' works equally well as 'I want to rub you.'   
JoAnne: Training is over. I know this because Jung Tae is fully dressed (boooo - but think of his health, Jo!) and he's on Mom Hill, with flowers. He pulls out a battered envelope and says that this is what Chung Ah left, and he's never read it - it feels too much like a will. So he will leave it with his mother now. He buries it in a wooden box and promises that later, when he sees Chung Ah again, he will read it. They will all read it together. Hmmm.. I can see holding out some hope for Chung Ah, but his mother is really dead, right? He's at her grave, after all. Does he mean they'll all read it together in HEAVEN? Was this his 'I'm ready to die' speech?
kakashi: It totally was! Also, didn't you think it was terrible stupid to NOT read the note?! Who knows what's in it! Maybe she says: "Hyung, I'm going to where it's warm and where I can heal myself under the palm trees. Come after me when you read this!". 
JoAnne: Jung Tae makes his way to the Apothecary, where he invites Ok Ryeon to spend the entire day with him tomorrow. She's suspicious, our smart girl, but in the end she agrees to his request. Ugh. He tries so FREAKING hard to be the guy she wants... he WANTS to be that guy. He just...  isn't him. He rides her around on a bike, then he teaches her to ride the bike, then they play in the market stalls...they are so cute together that it's just dismal because you know, you just know: this is not his life. And if he goes off and dies tomorrow at Il Ghuk Hwe and she looks back on this day... she'll know it for what it was, but she won't thank him. She'll hate him for a long time, and it will hurt even worse because of how much she loves him.
kakashi: Better good memories than bad (or no) memories though. By the way, these set of scenes convinced me once and for all that KHJ is the exact right choice for this drama. He seldom smiles (which is fitting for Jung-tae) and then, he suddenly did ... and man, he has one of the loveliest smiles and it is SO SAD to see him that happy with her.
JoAnne:  I like KHJ in this role and agree that any residual stiffness certainly works here.  Jung Tae has had a tough life and is an essentially serious person who should actually be kind of scary, but his soft melty core shows through occasionally and saves him from that.
JoAnne: Night time, and the date must be over. Dobi We Like is slurping noodles with Dissenting Dobi, talking about how he wants to open a store. (Awww) Dissenting Dobi (I miss the drunk subs from the other night, they were hilarious) tells him to shut up and eat, and notices a very long-faced Jung Tae walking down the street. Apparently that's suspicious, because they follow him - to Il Ghuk Hwe! Dobi We Like is worried but his asshole buddy grins and says he's digging his own grave. Everyone knows you're just jealous, Dissenting Dobi! Maybe if you weren't so NEGATIVE all the time, people would like you as much as the like Jung Tae!
kakashi: Duh, he's probably one of the only characters to survive, too... I thought this was a very strong scene, visually (not that there are many that aren't), that entry into the red-tinted hell-mouth.  (ooh, nice:  now that you mention, it did seem very menacing.)
JoAnne: As Gaya walks past Shinichi's room, she remembers the other day when he rushed to hide that photograph. He catches her red-handed, of course. Why is she so shocked and angry that he knew her mother? Shouldn't it have been obvious? He demands the photo back and they do this really cool tussle over it that I watched a few times, it was such pretty choreography.
kakashi: Well, no, she doesn't know that Shinichi knew her mother THAT well (or intimately at all), and the picture is pretty intimate! Her mother is hugging his shoulder. The real surprise for me was that she recognized this little pudgy dude to be incredibly tall and handsome Shinichi.  (Maybe it was the writing on the back of the photo. So, how old do you think he is, anyway, if she's about 20?)
JoAnne: The photo is torn in half, of course, and Shinichi loses his MIND. She isn't even apologetic and orders him to tell her what connection he has to her mother. Shinichi roars, there's just no other way to describe it. He roars, he smashes a wooden table, and with tears in his eyes he flat-out refuses to explain. I bet my friend Kakashi is having spasms right now.
kakashi: I really expected him to turn all hulk-green. Jeez, dude, chill!!!! Is he a little bit insane, depending on which button one presses? What is the deal with her mother?! Drama, tell us! It couldn't have been love, or at least not romantic love, cause he was just a boy. But what later in his life? Hm. Hm. Hm, hm, hm. Also, he can refuse orders from her?! That's something new - and a bit frightening. 
JoAnne: They're staring at each other angrily (there is NO sexual tension between these two, I've decided. Whatever it is, he is not IN love with Gaya.) when someone new shows up to announce that Jung Tae has arrived to see Gaya. The new guy has an untrustworthy face and HaeTae's hair from Reply 1994. Shinichi's face is like this: Now? He picks NOW? They all file outside, and Gaya is VERY confused when Jung Tae says that now is the time to end their ill-fated relationship.
kakashi: Yeah, she's probably thinking: "What is with these guys???! I wanna hang with some girlfriends!"
JoAnne: At Dobi House, the one we like is struggling with whether or not to tell the Hyungs what he saw. I'm confused. Surely Boss Hwang knew what Jung Tae meant when he said he needed to learn to fight against swords? Of course he decides to tell. This is why we like him and not you, Dissenting Dobi. Boss Hwang kicks everyone out of the room - even Poong Cha! He sits there for a minute looking really, really serious, and then makes a phone call. Hmm. My heart is not good with this.
kakashi: Sigh ... 
JoAnne: In DanDong, Leader Mo talks with an older man (that's Choi Il-hwa!(I love him!)) about the current state of affairs with Il Ghuk Hwe, and then the older man mentions Jung Tae. Ohhhh... Leader Mo says he was impressed: like father, like son. Interesting! The older man tells Mo that if he is able, he should always help Jung Tae and in return, that same man would consider it a personal debt. But Leader Mo says he probably has a bigger debt toward Jung Tae himself, anyway. We don't hear why because Mo is called away. As always, I'm struck by how lovely the buildings in DanDong are, and how it always seems to be this perfect, pink sunset. Shineuiji is always gray, on the other hand, although the surrounding countryside is most often sunlit and gorgeous.
kakashi: I like the little birds on the porch, such a nice touch. I'm pretty certain the softness and colorfulness of Dandong in contrast to Shineuiji is there to show the difference between the place that is (still) untouched by the Darkness, and the other, that is fully corrupted. Also, this new dude is Seol Doo-Sung and it seems he is our Shanghai connection. Also, Jung-tae's father again!!! Everything is about him, and everybody has a connection to him. Jung-tae is actually profiting from his father, big time, though indirectly. (So somewhere down the road father and son will meet up and son will realize, and then father will die too soon for them to enjoy any of the reconciliation.)
JoAnne: Mo puts the phone down in a way that lets you know the news was not good. Was it Boss Hwang on the other end? Minion asks Mo if he thinks 'it' is true, and Mo replies, 'He hasn't forgotten the cut on his ear. It is Shin Jung Tae for certain.' Cut to Boss Hwang hanging up the phone. So it must have been him talking to Mo but... huh? the cut bit? They must be talking about WHY he got the cut - for not being alert. So if he hasn't forgotten, then it must mean that Jung Tae IS being alert? Arrrgh what was the message.
kakashi: When in doubt, distrust the subs. I didn't get it either. Hwang definitely called Mo. I guess to tell him "it's on, the war". And to tell him Jung-tae went to the slaughter. I thought Mo might have added the cut-observation himself, to point out that JT is indeed alert, but not according to my subs, which say "he said that he hasn't forgotten". Question is who 'he' is: Hwang or Jung-tae, who told Hwang to say this to Mo?
JoAnne: Boss Hwang looks slowly and sadly around his Dobi House. This shouldn't mean anything because Boss Hwang never moves fast, and always looks sad - but somehow, this is a good bye. You just know it. He steps outside and tells the guys he's going for soup. Yeah. He tells Dissenting Dobi to keep a good eye out for the shop and takes off.
kakashi: Such a strong moment, when he says goodbye by looking at their head-quarters.  (I even loved this guy when he was the terrible older brother in Nice Guy.  It's the sad, thoughtful look in his eyes.)
JoAnne: Poong Cha adds his two cents and does a very decent impression of a dog barking and growling which ...ok, and then he says he too is headed off. He gives Dobi We Like a look that seems a bit curious to me and takes off after Boss Hwang. Dobi We Like is about to spin apart from nervousness and anxiety.
kakashi: The dog-thing was very funny, especially because the real dogs start barking in the background immediately! Why he did it? To make fun of Dissenting Dobi aka Kang-kae. It's who Poong-cha is. 
JoAnne: Back at Il Ghuk Hwe, Gaya looks reaaaaaaally uncomfortable. She wants to know why Jung Tae is there, and Shinichi says whatever, he came in alive, he's going out dead. You can watch. He walks toward Jung Tae while the new guy tells him to grab a sword. 'If I need to,' Shinichi says, 'I will'.
kakashi: He is such an arrogant bastard! 
JoAnne: Oooh, hand to hand. Shinichi spars a bit and then gives Jung Tae a bit of performance criticism, which sparks Jung Tae's remembrance of earlier pieces of advice received from various people. He adjusts his approach accordingly as each memory comes to him, and he's holding his own pretty well against Shinichi. I particularly love the reverse kick to Shinichi's back which causes Shinichi to jerk forward and look REALLY irritated (sorry, tried to gif, it doesn't work), because lately Shinichi is just pissing me off with his refusal to communicate.
kakashi: He is such a jerk if he wants to be ... but he's hard to hate, because you know what drives him is love and loyalty to a memory.
JoAnne: Jung Tae might actually have the upper hand... it looks like he drew first blood, and Shinichi is having a hard time getting up. Jung Tae points out that it should be hard - he's been fighting with a sword all his life, so he can't possibly know what it feels like to take the hits on his body. Whereas Jung Tae's whole miserable life meant he was going to be hit all the time, and that's the thing he does best: get hit.
kakashi: He is also doing some pretty good hitting. Man, Shinichi really deserves this! (I do agree. He's being an ass.)
JoAnne: He goes on to say that Shinichi had claimed protecting Gaya was his duty. Well I just wanted to make her laugh, Jung Tae says. Because when she laughs, that makes me laugh. I don't even know why, but it does. Is it really so terrible for me to dream like that? Oh ho, there it is folks. Gaya is the one. She's who he'll choose, given the opportunity, over and over and over again. Ok Ryeon, listen hon.. Soo Ok isn't exactly sloppy seconds. Go, be happy. This man will never, ever be yours.
kakashi: Gaya is of the same breed as him. But Ok-ryeon? From a different, happier world. At least for now.  (People like Gaya and Jung Tae should never have a mate, sadly. But the 'best' match for him would Ok-Ryeon, if it were possible. She could take him out of that world for brief moments, give him a break.)
JoAnne: Well that just does it for Shinichi. He turns to face Jung Tae and tells him yes, it's terrible. It's a sin for you to dream of things that you should never have. It's clear that he is absolutely insulted that Jung Tae would dream of Gaya at all. Then he asks New Guy (Kenjo) for his swords. As he suits up, Shinichi says that if he dies, Kenjo must let Jung Tae leave. It is a matter of pride. So then his deal was a sincere offer? Probably easy to make when you figure there's no way the guy could beat you. The two men square off as Shinichi warns Jung Tae that 'this time' it's real.
kakashi: No, that deal wasn't at all sincere. He is a lying bastard, he really is! To promise Dobi would be okay if JT won? That's not even for Shinichi to decide and we all know that. I guess the Dobis know as well. Maybe Jung-tae does, too. Also ... this moment right there? When I broke up with Shinichi. One sword against an unarmed guy ... that's one thing. But two??!! He friggin takes a back-up sword!!!
JoAnne: Poong Cha's out for a leisurely stroll through the evening woods, and Dobi We Like is sneaking behind him, hiding behind trees. Ah - not so casual a stroll then, since there's Boss Hwang just up ahead. Poong Cha's not even trying to hide from him. They bicker back and forth and then Poong Cha says 'Kinda far from the rice soup place, huh?' The two men give each other this look, and Boss Hwang tells him to leave - of course Poong Cha refuses. These men - both of them - convey so much emotion with their eyes. It's really lovely to see, except, you know, it means someone is going to die pretty soon. And I can't afford any of THESE guys, not the Dobis.
kakashi: After watching this whole thing four times, I've come to the conclusion that this scene is in fact even more heart-breaking than what follows. I HATE final goodbyes.
JoAnne: As he thanks his boss for everything, Poong Cha sweeps him into a bear hug and chokes him unconscious. I KNOW!!!!! He puts Boss Hwang under a tree and arranges him carefully. Through tears, Poong Cha tells his hyung to stop drinking, and stop taking care of the Dobi - he should get married now. Dobi We Like interrupts, sobbing. This brings Poong Cha back under control, and he hands the younger man an envelope of money before he quietly apologizes and heads back off down the trail.
kakashi: "He is light as a feather, my hyung". Tears. 
JoAnne: Jung Tae and Shinichi are beating the CRAP out of each other but they have time for quips, too. 'What's your last will?' Shinichi asks. 'I'll write it on your gravestone.' Jung Tae replies. I like a smart ass, I do. It really looks like Jung Tae has the upper hand, for a while... and then all of a sudden, he doesn't. Shinichi stabs him deeply in the side.
kakashi: He goddamn used his back-up sword, that's why!!!! Jung-tae even managed to TAKE THE SWORD FROM HIM! The only thing he doesn't know is how to fight with a sword and when he starts wielding it, he presents Shinichi with a fatal opening.
JoAnne: All unaware and still on a high from her lovely date, Ok Ryeon is practicing finger movements on little pieces of wood set up to take the place of piano keys. Her glowing face and happy smile are interspersed with images of Jung Tae, punching Shinichi as hard as he can even while the sword is sticking out of his ribs. Happy Ok Ryeon humming to herself while Shinichi pulls the sword out of Jung Tae. Pretty Ok Ryeon glowing in her peach wool coat while Jung Tae falls to the ground. Smiling Ok Ryeon daydreaming about future plans while bloody Jung Tae fades fast. It's entirely effective and I am literally reaching toward the screen and begging - for what, I don't know, since clearly Jung Tae can't die this early - but I'm saying no, all the same.
kakashi:He is very good at surviving terrible stab wounds. So don't you fear, JoAnne.
JoAnne: Gaya is in shock, and Shinichi can barely stand even after using the sword as a prop. She orders him to stop, but Shinichi tells her to stay where she is. If she ignores the instruction (to send the living man out dead) then she will be banned (by friggin WHOM? Him, Shinichi?). He reminds her that if she's banned, she won't be able to take revenge. Damn. That stops her. She's not happy... but she's not going to choose Jung Tae, either. We knew that though, didn't we. As Shinichi staggers off he instructs Kenjo to finish Jung Tae and shorten his suffering.
kakashi: Is he too weak to do it or does he think it is below him to do it?? I think he doesn't have the  strength, he's been beaten so badly.  Jung Tae was bad ass.
JoAnne: At exactly the right moment - WAS Gaya making a move there? - Poong Cha breaks into the compound. He's quickly surrounded by men in swords, but he holds his hand up to pause them (which they do... huh?) and drops to check Jung Tae's pulse. He's alive, but barely. He covers Jung Tae with his coat and promises to save him, no matter what.
kakashi: ...
JoAnne: Poong Cha stands and addresses Shinichi: You know me, he says. I don't know if a bunch of Japs will know this, but my name means windmill in Japanese. I came here today prepared to die... so watch out. I'm not sure what the windmill has to do with anything. He does pretty well with the crowd but they get their stabs in, too. He's got deep slices across his back and behind his knees within seconds.
kakashi: It's because he moves his arms like a windmill, I think. And I start screaming "nooooooooo", because it is crystal clear that this man cannot make it out alive. 

JoAnne: Back in Dandong, Minion is encouraging Leader Mo; if Shineuiji falls then DanDong is next. Mo replies that when his mother was murdered, the murderers tried to kill him, too. He was saved by Jung Tae's father. Repay kindness doubly, he says. Enemies, tenfold. 'I'm going to Shineuiji.'
kakashi: Then fooking hurry up! 
JoAnne:...where, at that moment, Poong Cha is staggering, dazed, and drooling blood. He shouts to psych himself up and then kills the remaining warrior. Only Kenjo, Shinichi, and Gaya left, and he's not sure if all of them would fight. Kenjo steps in and deals the fatal blow. Poong Cha falls but then forces himself up and knocks out Kenjo with the last of his strength.
kakashi: I cheered. And I LOVED the WTF face that Kenjo made when Poong-cha got up again and attacked him. 
JoAnne: He can no longer stand up straight, and he's choking on blood as he says that now, this should be enough. He groans in frustration as he tries to stay on his feet and crawls toward Jung Tae, unconscious still. Oh, Good Lord... Poong Cha is clearly dying, yet he tries again and again to wake Jung Tae. "Let's go home now, Jung Tae-ah." He can't lift Jung Tae's arm, so he tries to put his head under the arm, instead. That doesn't work, either. "We have to go home. Hyung will take you home," he promises this with his head on Jung Tae's chest as he tugs on the younger man's arm.
JoAnne: Gaya and Shinichi watch this silently - Gaya definitely more affected than her bodyguard (I am not entirely sure he is not affected. I think he is, in fact. Quite a bit). Poong Cha tries one more time to lift Jung Tae and then collapses on his chest. His body shakes with his death throes as he tells Jung Tae that he really liked him. In this world where people would ignore a rotten corpse in the street, Jung Tae was touched when someone had a small scratch. He really liked that about Jung Tae. Poong Cha is gasping now. 'So we have to go home, Jung Tae,' says Poong Cha, who can no longer even lift his head. 'I'm sorry. I loved you.' He makes a couple small, whimper-like sounds, and his eyes glaze over. Poong Cha is dead.
JoAnne: I know. Let's all take a minute.
kakashi: Can't comment. Sorry. 

JoAnne: Gaya and Shinichi stand there like statues. Gaya, shaken deeply, asks Shinichi if he has ever seen a death like that - she has not. There's something about Shinichi's carefully blank face that tells me maybe he has, though. This is enough, she says. Take Jung Tae and treat him. Shinichi says that even if she saves him now, he will die in the end; that's his fate. Gaya warns him not to be so reckless about deciding things like that.
kakashi: Yes. You're a dick, just get out of my sight. 
JoAnne: Back in town, Jjang Dol is getting arrested for black market whiskey (oh, I forgot he is even in this!) and Ok Ryeon is locking up shop for the night. She turns from the door to see Soo Ok, looking handsome as ever. He has sheet music for her and tells her to try humming the notes to feel the tune, but she doesn't know what humming is. I suppose because he used the English word? Do Koreans not hum, as a general rule? They sit on a bench and hum together. They're still cute but Poong Cha... sorry, I haven't got room for you guys tonight.
kakashi: Ah, but you see ... this is where our friends are ripped apart. They do not know it yet, but they will not see each other for quite a number of years, probably wondering, fearing what has happened to the other. 
JoAnne: He walks her home and they make small talk about the New Year and how things are slow at the gibang for those couple of weeks. Soo Ok tries to invite himself in for food but gets shut down nicely and doesn't push the issue. When Ok Ryeon enters the courtyard, she is a bit alarmed to see dark-suited men standing guard. They're supposed to be closed, but the military head guy (the one Aoki knew stuff about) is there, drinking with Ok Ryeon's mother.
kakashi: Oh shit. 

JoAnne: They hear blows and Ok Ryeon's mother cries out, so the women run to her. They can't get in because of the guard, but Soo Ok shows up and fights him. (Umm...Kim Jae Wook and fighting. Not very believable.) (Is it him or is it his character? - since it was the physicality of it that seemed awkward I'm going with it being Kim Jae Wook. I think Soo Ok is supposed to be pretty but tough, remember that punch to his employee, who was so scared? But KJW is a lover, not a fighter.)
JoAnne: Inside the room, it gets ugly fast. The man is very drunk and very abusive. Ok Ryeon hits him over the head with a vase and knocks him out cold. As the women try to comfort each other, Soo Ok runs in and takes one look: the man is bleeding from the temple, and he feels for a pulse. Suspicion confirmed: Ok Ryeon has killed him.
kakashi: Well, she must have super-strength, cause who dies like that from a small vase over the head?!
JoAnne: Now the bodyguard Soo Ok had been fighting rushes in, gun drawn. As he threatens the women, though, Ahjussi Choi sneaks in and disarms him, knocking him out. He sizes up the situation and tells the women to pack what they need: nothing too heavy or too big, and hurry! Ahjussi makes a decision to trust Soo Ok and tells him the plan: cross the Yalu river in a skiff held at Yongampo. Will he help? Soo Ok reflects for barely a second and nods his head yes.
kakashi: And so it starts, the separation. 
JoAnne: Ahjussi digs up his rifle (complete with sniper sight) and Soo Ok looks at this with a bit of surprise but doesn't falter. They help the women escape and hurry them through the marsh toward the river. Meanwhile, Aoki is in his office stewing over that pissing match he had with Shinichi. An aide enters with a sketch of the assassin, which Aoki recognizes as Ahjussi Choi. He takes off running for the gibang after grabbing his rifle.
kakashi: He is one scary dude, our Cutie Soo. 
JoAnne: Where, of course, he comes on his dead boss. The bodyguard left behind in the room is still lying on the floor but was somehow aware enough to hear that they were headed toward Yongampo, so Aoki takes off after them.
JoAnne: He arrives right behind them and starts firing off shots as they pile into the skiff. Ahjussi Choi is hit in the arm right away. He unties the boat and pushes it off as Soo Ok starts to row, and tells Madam to stay alive, anywhere: he will find her. Aoki is still firing away as the skiff floats off slowly; the women are bent over and crying in fear, but Madam is quiet. As she sinks down we see that she has been shot.
kakashi: And another one down. Who is doing a body-count? 
JoAnne: It's not supposed to be, but this next scene was very funny. Aoki and Ahjussi hunt each other through the marsh. First one will stop and stare at waving grass, then the other, and we pan overhead to see them running parallel. 
kakashi: Pretty awesome idea with the grass that is too high to see anything. 
JoAnne: They get closer and closer, and finally face each other from about 50 feet. Ahjussi shoots and hits Aoki in the thigh. They move closer; maybe 30 feet now. Aoki shoots Ahjussi in the shoulder while the older man reloads. Even closer, Ahjussi shoots Aoki in the arm, and then Aoki hits Ahjussi in the side. One final time, at about 10-15 feet: both men take aim and fire. Aoki falls to his knees with a grimace and then collapses. Ahjussi drops like a tree, straight down. The marsh falls silent.
kakashi: In the normal world, nobody would survive multiple gun-wounds like that. But we are not in a normal world, so I'm not making any bets. People are only dead if we see their dead bodies. TV show rule No 5. 
JoAnne: It's a sunny day in Osaka, and Evil Overlord Denkai is out for a stroll with two women in a grove of bamboo (THAT made me laugh. Why are they shuffling behind him?). YES. Aka joins them, dressed like a medieval priest. He's wearing gloves, which seems odd (it's his assassin travelling gear. We've seen him wearing it before!). Evil Overlord asks for news of Aoki, and Aka assures the older man that he has as many men as can be found out looking for him. Evil Overlord shares that when Aoki's mother died, Aoki stayed by her side for 8 days; surviving is his talent, so he must be out there somewhere, alive. And Gaya, Grandpa asks? Aka says she's in the middle of dealing with the Dobi, and waiting for his final instructions. Denkai replies that winning is important, but so is the story about it: everything must be destroyed without mercy. Aka bows and says that his orders will be carried out.
kakashi: At least he spoke. 
JoAnne: At Il Ghuk Hwe, Gaya silently watches a sleeping Jung Tae.
kakashi: Who happens to be unearthly beautiful that way. (Agreed.)
JoAnne ... while Shinichi is examined by a doctor. He's shirtless and pretty much his entire torso is covered in bruises. It's still a really nice torso, though. The doc says he can't believe what he's seeing: There are 8 places where his spine has been bruised, four of them with fractured vertebrae. He should be having a hard time even breathing right now. Shinichi carefully replaces his robe and says it's enough that he's alive, but the doctor cautions him: if he doesn't take care of this, he could die.
kakashi: Okay, at this point, I'm getting mildly worried. I don't want him to die. But I want him to suffer. Like hell! 
JoAnne: Now joining Gaya in Jung Tae's room, Shinichi shows NO signs of pain or injury where just minutes before he was clearly hurting. He warns Gaya that soon he'll have to report what happened, and asks if she intends to let Jung Tae live. Then he sighs sadly, a bit resigned, and confesses that 'you look too much like her. So much that it gives me chills.' He searches Gaya's face as she looks at him in surprise.
kakashi: What's going on with her mother goddamit! And who killed her?! I hope it wasn't Shinichi. That would explain some of his crazy guilt - or whatever it is - but it would also be absolutely terrible. (It's one of my biggest fears, actually.)
JoAnne: Oh, we know those boots! It's Leader Mo, making a slow-mo (hah) walk though town like the badass he is (yeah, NOW he gets here). He and Minion reach the steps of Il Ghuk Hwe and he instructs Minion to announce. 'Dandong organization requesting combat with the Japanese organization!' the minion shouts over and over in a very formal way. Shinichi listens carefully to the call and explains it to Gaya: Dandong wants to fight the leader of Il Ghuk Hwe. When she moves to go outside, he tries to stop her. 'You can't go out there! It's Mo Il Hwa!' Gaya doesn't blink. 'I'm Gaya,' she responds. The 'bitch, please' is implied but very clear.
kakashi: Shinichi is truly afraid. He knows how good Mo is and he also know that he, Shinichi, cannot do anything to protect her because he is friggin hurt so bad he could die and should friggin be laying down.  
JoAnne: Leader Mo and Gaya exchange greetings and discuss terms. If she wins, she gets everything she wants, including DanDong. If he wins? He wants Jung Tae, if he's still alive. Gaya agrees. Shinichi warns the guards off and the two opponents face each other at arms length, bowing their respects. (Song Jae Rim is so freaking cool I can't stand it. Just STANDING there, he's the coolest thing in the whole drama.)
kakashi: Shinichi's WTF face was priceless. A whole town against THAT guy?! Huh? Haha, take THAT, you bastard. 
JoAnne: They begin. Gaya has her two short knives but Mo is armed only with that insane coolness and superhero superspeed (and superhero hair). He gets in a good punch, but she cuts his hand pretty badly, too. He looks at it and says 'I heard you just took up the sword not long ago. I guess there really is such a thing as genius.' Gaya responds with a polite version of 'cut the crap.' Mo continues: from this point on, he'll be trying his best. She should look forward to it. They take up positions again and then Mo moves in and... the episode ends, dammit.
kakashi: Mo will of course not lose. And I sense a time jump coming. Question is when? I bet we will soon be arriving in Shanghai, baby! 

JoAnne: Poong Cha. Sigh. I guess we're really getting into it, now.
kakashi: Was that really necessary, I ask? Yes, Poong-cha saved Jung-tae's life, and he most likely saved Boss Hwang's life, too. But couldn't they have used another character for that??!! I'll be chewing on this for a while ....

JoAnne: I have a number of small quibbles related to plot here, but in the end they don't matter. They're doing such a good job of making me care what happens to these people, a few 'stretching it' plot points aren't going to sway me from my devotion, and on top of that this show is just GORGEOUS. Cast and location and lighting and choreography and all of it. They do some funky shots now and then, but overall, wow - this is a really beautiful piece of work. And the story! I have Heartless City feels magnified by a significant factor. But you better pray we don't find out someone is an undercover cop or something.
kakashi: Not unlikely that there's some undercover action in the next stretch of our story. By the way, I counted ... there's still eight characters we haven't met yet. I am so excited!