Age of Feeling / Inspiring Generation - Episode 18 (A SqueeCap)

kakashi: What a weird episode. There's interesting revelations (oh my poor Shinichi!), but there's also tons of pointless stuff (Ok-ryeon), probably there to fill the time. To me, it feels as if the writer has completely forgotten what this drama is / should be about as he lets our characters dance in circles. At least there are still pretty dances. Still, several of them have become mere caricatures of themselves: Do-ggo. Gaya. Old Man Fly isn't even there anymore. Mo gets to guest appear, but there's no purpose to his existence. At least we finally hear what the truly big bad is: Opium. It's all about Opium.
JoAnne: Yes, it's all about the Big Bad, which is Opium, and it's also all about Our Hero's Kryptonite, which is Ok Ryeon. I guess that's sort of anticlimactic to us, but I can see why it was news to HwangBang. Although me, though, a flutter of excitement over our THREEWAY bromance now brewing.

Episode 18

Who will live and who will die? Who will get paid and who will not? The fight between Aoki and Jung-tae is ON! Ah ... no? First, we get to see how Ok-ryeon is released. To Do-goo! Is he a woman snatcher? First Chung-ah, then Ok-ryeon? He takes her to eat at Seul's Chinese Restaurant
JoAnne: Does anyone remember the character Uriah Heep? From Dickens? When Do Ggoo is his most servile, that's what he reminds me of. Only WAYYYY better looking.
He presents her with a signing contract and wants her to sign it - she doesn't. Cause she's a little rebel. He loses patience pretty quickly. This contract holds Jung-tae's life. They're in a car next (Girl! hasn't your momma told you NOT to get into cars with strangers?!) and she might or might not have signed that paper. He sneakily takes her to the "intelligence building" - huh! so she was never in there? - and she witnesses Jung-tae's break-in (wait ... so did the Doctor Lady lie?!)
JoAnne: My assumption was that she was released quietly earlier in the evening, and the rescue attempt came later. Part of that assumption is a belief that  Princess Seul and Aoki came to an agreement when they met, and this plan is part of it.
Also arriving: Gaya. Our boys are in, but there is no Ok-ryeon. Aoki HOTNESS appears (busted!) and then, they're outside ... NOW the fight is on. Aoki takes off his jacket (I admit to squeeing), while Gaya takes a good but worried look from the second floor ... and leaves, ordering Yamamoto not to follow her. Why is he still around? Save money, producers!
JoAnne: Right? What happened to Mr. Perpetually Surprised? (he went on holidays)

The boys fight. Jung-tae realizes that Aoki's confidence makes him strong. All of his attacks are direct. That makes his pride his weakness. Stratego Jung-tae guessed right ... a little taunting is enough to make Aoki become emotional. He deliberately lets himself be hit a few times and then moves in for the downing punch. Hehe. Well, Aoki deserves a little beating. But what's that?! He puts his uniform jacket back on.
JoAnne: I'm telling you, this fight was planned, and Jung Tae was never in any real danger from Aoki, much as he'd genuinely like to kill him.
Did Jung-tae think he would get too emotional? Aoki asks. Eeeeeeh. Smart one. He will teach him a lesson now: fighting doesn't always involve fists. And at a sign of Aoki's, snipers appear all around the courtyard.
JoAnne: Hmm. I have a hard time making this part fit my idea. Give me a minute or two.  In the meantime, hotness of Aoki, and doesn't uri KJH look tired?
Seul Princess giggles when he hears about Jung-tae's latest adventures. That boy is so simple minded! Just like his father! Giggle, giggle, giggle. Seul is figuratively in bed with Aoki, we learn. He is testing Il Gook Hwae's "new knife" and he wanted to test Jung-tae's obsession with the girl. That has now been proven and that means Jung-tae is quasi theirs. Seul gleefully imagines a future in which Jung-tae is Hwangbang's knife. Baek-san isn't happy about it. Maybe he's jealous.
JoAnne: Of course he is, Jung Tae will come between him and his fussy princess. At least I was right about why Do Ggoo was the one who got Ok Ryeon out of jail, but I'm still struggling with the snipers. For Ok Ryeon to be worth anything at all, Jung Tae has to be alive.
kakashi: Aoki is an Evil MoFo, that's why. 
Gaya is an arsonist! Ah, but we knew that already. She is setting a fire at the intelligence building. Just in time! Not caring about whether it's cowardly or not - only the ones who win wars are remembered after all - Aoki is about to give the order to shoot, when the raging fire needs his urgent intention. No execution today, sorry, dude.
JoAnne: Ok, I have an idea. Aoki doesn't really care about Ok Ryeon and he can grab her any time, so why not let her go and just let Hwang Bang think he's in bed with them for a minute? Get Jung Tae in the prison, and kill him anyway. It's what Il Gook Hwae really wants, and the only thing Aoki wants more than Jung Tae dead is for Gaya to be his.
Less good: Yamamoto suspects who set the fire - and so does Aoki, cause he sees the car drive off. Jung-tae and his two helpers climb the wall again to get out. Uhm ... doors, people? Do-goo and Ok-ryeon are "driving" again (it looks sooooo fake, lol) and he makes a good case about her being the reason for Jung-tae getting into this mess. Leaving Shanghai will not solve anything - but going to Jung-tae's new Daddy will. She is ready to sign the contract - but not to become a singer (she's given up on that), but because Do-ggo says it will guarantee Jung-tae's life. What a load of bullshit.
JoAnne: This is why they kept her in the drama. I think it would have been way better if we found out tonight that HwangBang had secretly been keeping Chung Ah all these years, and used HER to control Jung Tae. It's not terrible, and it does fit the story, and I have enjoyed her bubbly-ness. I'm not one of the camp that thinks Jung Tae needs Gaya for a partner. I think he needs Ok Ryeon, and her ordinary sort of courage.

Shinichi! Rage fit! Hooooot! He shouts at Yamamoto for taking Gaya there - does he know what will happen to her if Evil Overlord finds out??! She might get killed!!! I gotta say ... Shinichi is looking very good again. No more trannie. He makes it very clear to Yamamoto that this needs to remain a secret from Osaka. You want to trust this weasel??! At sword point, Yamamoto reveals that it's already too late ... BossBoss knows. Who did that? he demands to know, clearly near a nervous break-down. Awwwww.
JoAnne: This was some good stuff, here. Shinichi is on fire! I love how very near to desperation he seems, trying to hold things together while all around him people seem determined to bring about catastrophe.
"I did", says Gaya and approaches. She wanted to know what happens when she saves a Korean man's life and let him step on Ill Gook Hwae. Shinichi is truly shocked - he really does feel something for her, does he? And then, she says: I know it all. How YOU killed my mother, at my grandfather's orders. HUH??! oh shit. Noooooooooo!
JoAnne: I let loose a string of bad words here that even I blush to recall. A double-whammy of gargantuan proportion, this. First: Gaya, that is about the ballsiest thing in the world. I bow in awe to you. Talk about direct line attack? Talk about a death wish! Next: Shinichi........oh no. We talked about this. We talked about this and we dismissed it as impossible. We agreed he knew who did it and we agreed it broke his heart and that he swore to keep Gaya safe because of his love for the mother... and yet this is really the only way it could have been. All of Shinichi makes sense now.
Shinichi heaves a heavy sigh and falls on his knees. Kill me, master, he says. Bury it as a sin that he committed. But, no ... no such relief for him. It's not her privilege to decide who lives and who dies in Il Gook Hwae after all. Just he wait ... in a few days, Boss will decided whether he will live or die. She smirks when he says that it's not only him that will die. She is not afraid of death. Not even if it's Jung-tae's death? he asks. Has she forgotten how her father died and for what? That's Jung-tae's fate.
JoAnne: Can you imagine how eaten up he has been all these years? Because you know he did love Ryoko.
kakashi: *sobbing* 
Finally, he talks, she says sardonically. He will tell her everything, if she will kill him for it, he says. Or at least that's what I think he says when he says "bury my sin". But no: she will ask Denkai Doyama directly. She turns and walks away, while Shinichi begs her in a small voice to please not do that. Oh my beautiful warrior ... my heart bleeds for you. Just that your crushing guilt doesn't really absolve you from being such a dick, luv. I will mourn your death, but I might be one of the only ones around here.
JoAnne: Oh, no, I will definitely mourn with you. He is one of the most tragic casualties of this whole war.  Think about it - a young boy who worships a beautiful older princess swears to protect her. He grows up to be her bodyguard and then, to  his horror, she does the one thing he's been taught to believe is completely unacceptable and a betrayal of everything he and their organization stands for: she loves a Korean man. If she has to die, then he at least will do it, and limit her suffering - but then he has to live with his hatred of her act AND his love for her AND his guilt over what he did to her. And then, when he finally has a chance to take care of Gaya as some small way of making things up to Ryoko, she is ALSO in love with a Korean man. Gah, I can't even imagine how much he hates Jung Tae.
Business as usual at Jae-hwa Central. Is that Jung-tae hanging around in the background? Getting some rest, dearest? There are several bags full of money: they are ready to pay back their loans. Princess Seul is the one getting the fat cheque. There's hardly anything left for them. And no wages for Bangsamtong people... just for Jung-tae. It's Jae-hwa's attempt to cheer him up. A complete failure. Jae-hwa takes the money to Seul ... and out comes Do-ggo with Ok-ryeon. She's looking good, Jae-wha comments - and Do-ggo informs him that she is now under contract with them. She will be singing at Club Shanghai!
JoAnne: I find it difficult to believe that this news wasn't all over town immediately.
Watching it all is Aoki's spy, and our Director of Intelligence updates his data. We learn that Jung-tae has been moping inside Club Shanghai for a week. No need to arrest him once he comes out, Aoki informs his minion, it's all been settled with Seul. They'll cover the incident up. The door is opened and Shinichi comes in. Oh yes ... he's looking good. Less pleased to see him: Aoki. 
JoAnne: Shinichi looks like a man who's ready for the end of the world.
I love those two together. Doesn't he know he is undercover here, Aoki says? Or does he have something really urgent? Shinichi looks around, mildly interested in Aoki's operating environment and extremely arrogant and says got bested by Jung-tae, huh? A bit stronger than you thought? Surely a good lesson for you, boy. Aoki has only ever fought one person (Aka! JoAnne, somebody said his name! *sobs*), but Shin Jung-tae has experienced fighters from all over the world. Aoki thinks he is in the superior position - cause he doesn't only fight with his fists, but Shinichi says that was your last chance. Denkai Doyama is coming to Shanghai. Gaya told him everything.
JoAnne: Aoki's 'oh shit' look was perfect. Because he's not really got anything to be all that proud of either, does he?
From Aoki's reaction, Shinichi realizes that Aoki knows that Gaya set the fire ... and that Aoki is in love with her, still. The blood wind is about to start blowing, he says and the person that can block that wind for her can only be Aoki. Denkai Aoki, the light of Ill Gook Hwae. And Aoki bites ... yes. He will take care of things. Shinichi, are your intentions honorable?!
JoAnne: Define 'honorable'.
kakashi: Is he helping Aoki or is he letting him march into hell alone? 
Seul Princess is in his rocking chair, receiving money like the king he is. (He just gets creepier and creepier. Do you think he's crazy?) Jae-hwa complains about being sucked dry, and Seul Princess says, well, look for another job then if you do not like it. He means dealing in opium? Jae-hwa retorts. That's a no go. Don't do drugs, people! Jae-hwa knows what opium did to people - he will not go there. He'd rather borrow money from the Yakuza. And he calls Baek-san an asshole. I start giggling like crazy. 
JoAnne: I love this, but didn't Jae Hwa tell Jung Tae that he was going to allow Hwang Bang to do whatever, use their suppliers, allow them to deal opium, that night he made his tearful confession? I noticed the very next opportunity he acted like 'oh hell no' about opium so I wondered... but this is pretty definite. 
kakashi: You know, writers ... sometimes, they don't know what they wrote a few episodes ago.
After Jae-hwa has left, Seul Princess hears from Baek-san that there's no way they can lower the taxes even if they want to: Aoki is all over their funds and if there's not enough, he'll be out. Or something like it. The only thing they can do is start selling opium at Club Shanghai. That means: Jae-hwa has to go. They need Club Shanghai back. Sigh ..... alright. Another round in the "Who is the Owner of Club Shanghai" game. Yes! Sniff the cigar, Seul, sniff it!
JoAnne: Sometimes a cigar is not a cigar.
Ok-ryeon arrives at Club Shanghai in style. Jung-tae is informed and runs to see her - in the dressing room, So-so is all "where WERE you for a week"? and I shout: In Hungary! She went filming something else there! Jing-jing suggests she's been in bed with Hwangbang and bitch-bitch-bitch go the girls. Jung-tae sweeps in and drags her out. He is "furious" (not really ... a bit tired, KHJ?) and demands to know what happened to her and what's with the clothes? She blabbers on and on about his "father", the auditions and her great contract and then has to go to sing. She is such a bad liar.
JoAnne: It is touching how hard she tries to make it seem like a good thing, so he won't worry.
Next, Jung-tae grabs Do-goo to have him spill some beans. Think, Jung-tae, says Do-ggo: only the protection of somebody as powerful as Seul Princess would bust a murder suspect free. Think, Jung-tae! He goes to see Seul and thanks him, kneeling, for taking care of Ok-ryeon. But can he take her to Club Shanghai? Seul tells him to relax. Does he think he, his father, would take his woman as a hostage? Uhm, can I say something, Princess? Of course everybody thinks that, you lying piece of s***. If Jung-tae is confident he can protect her by himself: go ahead, take her. Bastard.
JoAnne: I am again unsure of Do Ggoo. I can't help but think he likes Jung Tae, and I still think that we have no idea what he's really doing and who he's really helping. Except that if it's not Gaya... it's DOBI. Yassssss, Dobi is secretly the most powerful gang in all the land now and they're maneuvering behind the scenes! Oh man, I wish it could be so.
Back at Club Shnghai, he orders Poodle Top (ah, his name is Mangchi?) to fill up the car, quickly! He goes and grabs Ok-ryeon by the hand and drags her out. Conveniently, she is already dressed in her coat. He is taking her to a safe place - one he doesn't yet know, but one he's sure exists. But it doesn't, she says ... they are refugees. There's no place that's safe for them. They have to stay here. It's a sad, pointless situation, in which she will rot in prison without Seul's protection and he will likely die, trying to bust her out.   
JoAnne: When is this boy ever going to learn to think first? It's this kind of stuff that makes the Stratego Jung Tae maneuvers seem so out of character. Still, they had to get them moving...
Their sad conversation is interrupted by a bleeding man's hand against the car window. He begs Jung-tae to save his wife and kids. A masked someone is attacking them and another masked someone shoots at Jung-tae when he tries to stop the first masked someone. I'm confused.
JoAnne: Unless I miss my guess, it's HwangBang, doing the opium preparatory shenanigans.

Ok-ryeon is under shock and must go to bed immediately (she saw a tattoo behind one of the culprit's years, I guess that'll be important sometime later, unless they completely forget, like they completely forgot about Chung-ah). Do-ggo is there and worries she will miss her performance tonight. All the wounded people are at Lady Doctor's, receiving treatment. Outside, someone watches ... Mo!
JoAnne: Bamsangtong is under attack, clearly. But not by Mo, right? Why would he do that? He wants Club Shanghai, but he has no desire for Bamsangtong, right? Nor does he hold ill-will toward Jung Tae.
Jung-tae is distressed: what can they do against Hwangbang? (err ... why was it Hwangbang?). Mo says there's no evidence that points to them, but Seul is known to do stuff like this (err ... why?). Then why him? Why him?! Jung-tae asks and Mo says: because it's his fate. Like it was his father's fate. And he walks away. That was a bit short, Mo! Jae-hwa comes along too and learns it was Hwangbang (how do they know?!) - and Jung-tae asks: "How can I defeat Hwangbang"? Sigh. Drama. Now you're just becoming weird.
JoAnne: No, no, it makes perfect sense for it to be HwangBang. And they did this before - HwangBang hired people to tear down Dandong. They need to run opium through Club Shanghai. Just accept that it can't be anywhere else it has to be there, and then you realize that if Jae Hwa (leader of both) can't protect his people... or if he's put off balance at least - instability opens a door for HwangBang. Plus, it's a direct lesson for Jae Hwa. Go against us and your people will suffer.
The hoodlums are drunk and do weird dances (seems to be near or at Seulrak?). Mo (yes! more Mo!)  is watching them and explains their strange ways to his minion. They are Mongolians - he will have to capture them to know for sure. They attack him, but he is far superior, downing the first, the second, and wanting to give the decisive blow to the third, when somebody catches his hand: Baek-san. There's one good thing about Baek-san: he makes Mo go crazy-eyed.
JoAnne: I don't think he's unsure about whether they are Mongolians. I think he is unsure about whether they are some specific Mongolians.
The two fight. They have the same fighting technique, right? And ... buahahaha, they do the "claw"!
JoAnne: The fight was good but funny, I was laughing.
They break off and Baek-san suggests this is an act of war against Hwangbang. Ah no, says Mo: he just took a walk under the beautiful moon. He didn't even attack these guys ... he heard them speak in a familiar dialect and wanted to know about his hometown, but they just attacked him! Goodbye, then.
JoAnne: The little bit of finger wiggling. It killed me. Hello, Crazy Mo. When you look like this, I have a hard time imagining you being all cozy with So So.
A War Council at Club Shanghai: our boys are looking at a map and Jae-hwa points out all of Seul's assets. He needs an incredible amount of money for his war-financing, that's why he wants to get Opium into Club Shanghai, and from there, into all other clubs. Glad that's finally sorted - so everything that has happened so far was because of drugs? Seul cannot do it himself, cause people in Shanghai despise Opium and if he became associated with it directly, he would lose his position of power.
JoAnne: Logic fail. If clubs known to belong to him become known as places to get opium and he fails to stop that, then he also loses power.
Jung-tae has gone to see his "father", apologizing for running away (or trying to, at least). Seul says fine, fine, but now, you must become my knife and shield. When Jung-tae says he'll do that, Seul is extremely relieved and says: Now, you're the head of the Club. As for Jae-hwa: he is apparently unable to protect his people (seeing that 10 died last night) so he should be removed. By Hwangbang's knife.
JoAnne: Son of a bitch. Did not expect that. Jae Hwa out, yes. Dead by Jung Tae? No.
Aoki is standing in front of Club Shanghai, looking at it thoughtfully before stepping in. He is there to offer Jae-hwa a deal ... A deal he cannot turn down. 
JoAnne: Oh, God.  So it's going to come down to Jung Tae vs. Jae Hwa, with the first backed by HwangBang and the second backed by Il Gook Hwae. And Mo out there doing his Mo thing, and Gaya fucking up everybody's plans. Please tell me the Awesome Threesome predicted this, and have a plan?


Alright. Let me summarize: Aoki has a plan to save himself and Gaya from Denkai's (likely) wrath. That plan obviously involves Club Shanghai - and possibly Jung-tae's life. Jae-hwa, Jung-tae and Mo have a plan, one that involves Club Shanghai and is geared towards toppling Hwangbang. Seul has a plan, one that involves Club Shanghai, and one that starts with the death of Jae-hwa. Gaya might also have a plan, but somehow, the writer has forgotten about her. Sadly. If she does, it's certain to involve Club Shanghai and Jung-tae. Oh, and Shinichi. He is certain to have a plan, too - it involves dying an honorable death to wash himself free of sin, Gaya and Jung-tae.
JoAnne: Yes. But I don't think the writer forgot about Gaya, I think we're being lulled into thinking she's less important.
kakashi: I love how optimistic you are. 

With six episodes to go (if they continue filming and writing, because the writers most certainly also didn't get paid, and it shows), I'm guessing somebody (maybe Jung-tae) will be owner of Club Shanghai after some fighting at the end of episode 20. Then, Denkai will come and he will kill Aoki, Shinichi, and Gaya. He will then adopt Jung-tae as his new son and Jae-hwa will be his servant. Mo will do weird things with his hands in the background as Ok-ryeon sings (=lipsyncs) on stage and everybody claps crazily because she is SO GOOD. The End.  
JoAnne: This episode WAS weird. Because this should be, like, there's only two episodes left in the drama at most. I hope that there's some awesome twist that we have no idea about that throws everything into a completely different light and we have to deal with a whole new set of issues... but I think you're probably right, sadly. Maybe they did this so they could end early if they have to. I'm going to go cry over my beautiful show now.