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.
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.
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.
JoAnne: Right? What happened to Mr. Perpetually Surprised? (he went on holidays)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
JoAnne: Can you imagine how eaten up he has been all these years? Because you know he did love Ryoko.
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?(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.
JoAnne: Sometimes a cigar is not a cigar.
JoAnne: It is touching how hard she tries to make it seem like a good thing, so he won't worry.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
JoAnne: The fight was good but funny, I was laughing.
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.