Yong-pal: Episode 6
So good. So very, very good. Everyone wants to have the ice princess for their own this episode, but some couldn’t care less whether she’s still breathing at the end of it. Even though Yeo-jin’s foes view her as a prize to be won, there’s no certainty as to whom you can trust in this game. I verily believe that this episode may be the best one yet, with twists and turns that throw constant wrenches into even the most meticulous of plans.
It should be no surprise that Yong-pal has been making a steady climb in the Wednesday-Thursday ratings, but this week deserves a special mention as the series passed the 20% threshold with Episodes 5 and 6 hitting 18.0% and 20.4%, respectively. Keep doing you, Yong-pal.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Amidst hanging banners of protest against Hanshin Electric’s unfair layoffs, a woman stands on a bridge before leaping to end her life. Her suicidal attempt must be unsuccessful because we see Tae-hyun and Cynthia driving over to the scene. Neither of them know how a factory worker could be involved with the elite clientele they usually serve, but they’re about to find out.
Once they arrive, one look at the banners and the woman’s serious injuries is enough for Tae-hyun to deduce the rationale behind the act. Her difficult breathing points to hemothorax (bleeding around the lungs), so he needs to drain the blood immediately.
Tae-hyun gets to work to create a small incision, and since they don’t have a tube on hand, he disassembles a syringe to insert in the cavity instead. Blood squirts out and onto his face, and then the woman finally breathes easier.
After the patient is taken away by an ambulance, Tae-hyun is told to clean up before they head back. President Go is waiting to greet him on his way out; supposing that Tae-hyun recognizes him, he conveys the reassurance that they’re on the same side.
He and Tae-hyun relocate to his car to continue their conversation, where the older man admits to being partially at fault for the Hanshin factory workers’ disgruntlement. But he’s here to fix the issue—he too was once an ordinary man with a dream and weathered many storms. And while his speech about establishing Hanshin with Yeo-jin’s grandfather certainly makes for a nice tale, Tae-hyun gets right to the point: What does he want?
There’s little a rich old man like himself would want out of life, yet if he were to name one desire, it would be this: to drive Do-joon out and establish a world with a woman who would make her employees’ dream a reality. And in order to do that, he needs Yeo-jin.
Just like Tae-hyun had his own reasons to be fixated on money to protect his loved ones, he too wishes to make his lifelong dream come true. If Tae-hyun can make that happen, he promises to save his sister.
Turns out Cynthia has been working for President Go as long as (or perhaps even before) she’s been on the hospital’s payroll. Having seen Tae-hyun’s potential from the nuclear reactor incident, she doesn’t see why he’d need to think twice about President Go’s offer. When asked if she believes the words of a wealthy man who claims to want for nothing, Cynthia tells him to focus on getting his sister that life-saving procedure.
Yeo-jin, meanwhile, struggles to use her atrophied muscles to lift her foot. Motivated by Tae-hyun’s words of the need to walk to the throne to sit in it along with Do-joon lording over her then comatose body, she fights through the pain to try once more. She sheds relieved tears when she’s met with success.
Chief Lee is taken aback at the idea of killing Yeo-jin to counteract the board members’ wishes to meet her in the flesh. The task is far too sensitive for Tae-hyun to take on, and why Chief Lee can use her history of attempted suicide to their advantage and make it look like she took her own life.
Having her die on the table will prevent getting an autopsy that would reveal the drugs used to induce her coma, Chief Lee offers. When told that there is no problem if Do-joon refuses the autopsy, Chief Lee asks startled: “Do you truly trust Chairman Han?”
Confident that they’ll be paid handsomely for this task, the hospital director says he’ll put in a good word with the chairman and suggests a compromise: have it look like a suicide attempt and then let her die on the operating table.
After checking up on the factory worker’s bleak prognosis, Tae-hyun chats with Yeo-jin in her suite. He asks if she trusts President Go because in his experience, powerful people are too busy looking out for their own gain. Yeo-jin cuts him off just then: “I’m their biggest gain. I trust that.”
“And what if those people do the same thing [to you] as your brother did?” he asks. Gah, I love that Tae-hyun asks the hard-hitting questions we all want to ask these characters ourselves. In that case, she’ll at least have her legal guardian Do-joon to fall back on, though the very idea makes her laugh.
Her authority is of incredible gain to both parties in this power struggle, so they have no choice but to yield to her for the time being. She asks if he’s worrying about her right now, to which Tae-hyun replies that he’s more worried about himself and getting caught by Do-joon for helping her.
Yeo-jin assures him that he’ll get the passcode to that promised money the day she walks out of this hospital—aligning with President Go is in their best interest at present. He agrees. She bristles at how he’s been speaking to her in banmal, and Tae-hyun tosses back: “Hey, we’re friends!”
And as her friend, he’ll start her physical rehab today. She cries out in pain when he moves her foot, and he claims he barely touched it. Hee, these two.
Gangster hyungnim Doo-chul’s lackey gets suspicious after watching Cynthia greet a trio of gangsters (including the scar-faced one, with whom she exchanges a knowing nod) on the VIP floor. Doo-chul tsks at his inkling that the new fish seem murderous, and has him scratch his back instead.
Nurse Hwang installs a camera that sends a video feed directly to her phone. She’s much more confident now that she can keep another eye on Yeo-jin, and apologizes to Chief Lee for yesterday’s outburst.
Approaching Yeo-jin’s bed, Chief Lee remarks that they’ve all reached their limits and the time has come to put a stop to all this. He takes a beat before spinning those words as if they were meant for Tae-hyun to do a good job.
Scarface and his buddies are introduced as friends to an important client, and as always, Chief Lee is attentive and polite. He notices the patchy job done on their casts, and when he rises, the trio simultaneously decline the offer to put on new ones. Cynthia plays it cool, and on his way out, Tae-hyun spots the photo of Chae-young half-tucked underneath a book on the table.
Speaking of whom, Chief Lee & Co. find Chae-young in the middle of her morning yoga. She refuses all of Chief Lee’s recommendations to see a specialist—instead she’d like some personal medical attention, namely from Tae-hyun.
Although Chief Lee raises an eyebrow at the idea Chae-young had reason to see Tae-hyun, he dismisses the thought when told that Tae-hyun is probably her newest plaything.
Tae-hyun is itching to get out of helping Chae-young with her stretching exercises, but then he freezes when she asks if he met with President Go. She tells him to act natural because they’re being watched, and then strategically keeps her face away from the camera recording them to fill him in on Do-joon’s plans to do away with Yeo-jin soon.
The petition to see her was an effort to provoke Do-joon, and Yeo-jin will die if President Go doesn’t withdraw the request by noon tomorrow. Furthermore, President Go is the type of man who would leave Yeo-jin to die if he can’t get her on his side. “Now do you realize that I’m the only person who wants to save Yeo-jin?”
If Tae-hyun can swipe the elevator keys and transport Yeo-jin down to the basement level, that’s where Chae-young will be waiting. She can assure him that his life will change by teaming up with her, then she pulls him close to whisper in his ear that the offer only stands until tomorrow’s deadline.
While Tae-hyun catches a glimpse of Scarface, the hospital director confirms that they’ve received permission to go ahead with the plan to off Yeo-jin tomorrow. In her subconscious, Yeo-jin gasps. Frightened, her eyes well up in tears.
She isn’t the only one shocked, however—Nurse Hwang, who has listened in through her secret video feed, is rattled by the news. Next thing we know, she walks back to the lobby with a wooden expression, firmly gripping a scalpel in her bleeding hand.
She calls out to the hospital director before charging at him with the blade and stabbing him with it over and over again. “Die, die!” she cries. Utterly shocked, Chief Lee calls for security, and Nurse Hwang hisses back: “You people would dare kill my baby? You can’t kill her. I’ll kill you all first!”
The guards rush over to detain Nurse Hwang, who demands to see Do-joon aka the monster that would think of killing his sister. She gets dragged away before she can scream anything else, and the hospital director is ushered out.
But what should Nurse Hwang unknowingly leave behind but the keys to Yeo-jin’s personal elevator. Tae-hyun rushes inside to check on Yeo-jin, who tells him in a trembling voice about the plans to murder her tomorrow on the operating table. She softly cries that it’s all over.
Taking her hand, Tae-hyun assures her that it isn’t—he’ll be in that operating room tomorrow, and no one dies on his table. “Trust me,” he says firmly. “I’m Yong-pal.”
But the tears overcome her words, and Tae-hyun draws her close to comfort her.
Tae-hyun confronts Cynthia about whether the newest gangster trio was dispatched by President Go. Cynthia confirms it, but adds those men are here to rescue Yeo-jin. She tries calling her boss when he tells her that President Go must retract the petition by tomorrow if he hopes to save Yeo-jin.
But the old man won’t do that on the grounds that doing so now will only arouse suspicion. That doesn’t surprise Tae-hyun, who gets asked if he’s doing all this out of concern for himself or Yeo-jin. Cynthia is pleased to hear that Tae-hyun is still looking out for his sister—in fact, she has good news, which she’ll only share if he agrees to cooperate with what comes next.
If it helps his decision, President Go will pay Tae-hyun in cash if he delivers Yeo-jin over to him. Dead or alive. Sheesh. Reminded of the words that President Go doesn’t care whether or not Yeo-jin is breathing, Tae-hyun verbally agrees to take part in the next step of President Go’s plan.
The proposed plan: A group of President Go’s men will arrive on the helipad at 2 AM and assume multiple roles to take out the necessary hospital staff. They’ll cut the power to the VIP floor temporarily, and Tae-hyun will use those precious few minutes to transport Yeo-jin to their rendezvous point. By the time security assembles on the helipad, it will all be over.
Back in her suite, Yeo-jin acknowledges that that’s quite an intricate plan. He asks if she really trusts President Go, who was well-aware that drawing up that petition would put her life in danger. She calls the move strategic, but Tae-hyun fires back that the man was gambling with her life.
But she can’t risk putting her life into the hands of someone who wouldn’t be able to make such a decision. “Aren’t you afraid?” Tae-hyun asks. “No,” she replies, though her shaking hands suggests otherwise. “What I’m truly afraid of… is sleeping here forever.”
There are three parties — Do-joon, President Go, and Chae-young — who are all after her, and willing to kill if necessary. Yeo-jin breaks down the dilemma into more basic units: between the weak vs. powerful, whose hand will he take?
There’s no such thing as kindness in her circles, and when Tae-hyun says there’s another way, she tells him not to care for her too much. “You’ll end up get hurt too.”
But Tae-hyun couldn’t care less about that—she’ll be moved into the OR tonight, but he’ll be the one to take her there, not Chief Lee.
Tae-hyun surprises the nurses with coffee and cake, a kind gesture that impresses the head nurse. She figures that he must be getting along fine on the VIP floor, but Tae-hyun says it’s all the same because it isn’t like any of them can escape this hellhole of a hospital anyway.
She can tell that he’s got something on his mind and urges him to come out with it. So he does: the patient known as Young-ae to the rest of the hospital must die on the table tonight.
He calls Chae-young to ready her people to pick up Yeo-jin at 4 AM on the third basement level. Furthermore, Chae-young must leave the hospital now and lie low. She agrees, then calls her father to mobilize his men.
While Do-joon is intrigued by a mysterious caller (could it be Tae-hyun?), Chief Lee receives word from Do-joon’s secretary to enact the plan now. He pours himself a hefty glass, then gulps it down. He sneaks that glass into Yeo-jin’s suite, then sets it on the edge of her bed.
Chief Lee puts on a pair of latex gloves before preparing a syringe to inject a drug into Yeo-jin’s IV. Because she theoretically shouldn’t be able to experience pain anymore, Chief Lee smashes the glass onto the floor.
He bends down to grab a jagged piece… then gets up again to find himself staring directly at a wide-awake Yeo-jin. He freaks out and falls back in shock. “Murderer. You’re a murderer,” she utters.
Tears stream down her face as Yeo-jin tells Chief Lee that he’ll eventually die by Do-joon’s hands. Chief Lee’s gaze falls upon the broken glass again, and he swipes a piece. Next thing we know, he comes running out of the suite and demands to prep the OR, his doctor’s coat splattered with blood. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
And back inside, we see Yeo-jin’s “self-injury” to her neck, and Chief Lee covers her body with a sheet. Seeing the security guards usher the other VIP clients into their rooms, Cynthia tells her men to switch to Plan B.
The halls are now clear, yet Tae-hyun is denied entry to the suite. However, he isn’t in the dark for long: His eyes widen at the sight of a covered Yeo-jin being wheeled out of the room, and Cynthia gives the signal to cut the power.
Everything goes black for a few moments before the emergency lights flicker on. All of a sudden, the gangster trio comes crashing down to take down the guards. Both sides fight over Yeo-jin’s body while fighting each other, and though the gangsters put up a good fight, the guards take possession of Yeo-jin anyway.
More security guards are dispatched to attack, and then the head of security takes out a gun… and points it at Yeo-jin. Seeing this, Tae-hyun launches himself at the man, and the two engage in a struggle until a gunshot rings out.
It’s Tae-hyun who gets shot and falls to the ground. And that spurs Cynthia to release her inner badassery—seriously, she climbs over the counter and starts kicking serious ass. She picks up the gun and shoots it in the air, before pointing it at anyone who dares to draw near.
Doo-chul rushes over to Tae-hyun, who clutches his wounded side before helping the gangsters wheel Yeo-jin down the hall. Unfortunately for them, they’re blocked by even more security (seriously, where were these guys when the hospital director got attacked?), so Tae-hyun orders the crew to head back to the VIP suite.
Scarface tries to clear the way, but they find themselves surrounded anyway. Doo-chul insists that Tae-hyun go on ahead—he’ll take care of things here. And then he takes on the horde of security guards trying to break through. Badass.
Tae-hyun and Cynthia are in the elevator with Yeo-jin by the time a few guards come running inside. He furiously presses the button and the doors close by a hair. Chief Lee comes running inside a minute later, then calls over the guards to a nearby closet that houses another covered gurney…
… where the actual Yeo-jin lies. He appears slightly crazed as he says he’s the only surgeon who can save her now. Down in the basement level, President Go has an ambulance waiting to transport who they think is Yeo-jin, but first they’re met with another surprise.
It’s Do-joon, who wonders why the man went to such dramatic lengths to drag his sister away. Meanwhile, Chief Lee wheels Yeo-jin into the already prepared operating room, where our favorite head nurse is part of the operating team.
We flashback to the earlier conversation between the head nurse and Tae-hyun to learn more: although Chief Lee will act under Do-joon’s orders to attempt to kill Yeo-jin in the operating room tonight, Tae-hyun must be there to make it look like a believable death. He’ll lower Yeo-jin’s body temperature and stop her heart while they’re all watching.
So it’s the head nurse’s job to procure pints of blood so that they can later resuscitate Yeo-jin. There’s always the chance that they won’t be able to revive Yeo-jin, but that’s the reason why Tae-hyun needs the head nurse’s help.
Back in the present, the head nurse begins lowering Yeo-jin’s body temperature. Chief Lee takes his sweet ol’ time examining Yeo-jin’s neck wound and is in no rush to take further action. When the resident suggests to bring Tae-hyun in, Chief Lee is all, Yeah, call him in or whatever.
A standoff between President Go and Do-joon continues downstairs, and then Tae-hyun limps over to push Not Yeo-jin over, much to Cynthia’s surprise. And that’s when Do-joon thanks Tae-hyun for handing over what’s rightfully his. Believing that Tae-hyun has betrayed them, Cynthia levels her gun at his temple.
Upstairs, while Chief Lee leisurely stitches Yeo-jin up, the head nurse surreptitiously administers a syringe filled with potassium to induce a cardiac arrest. The effect is almost immediate, and when the team jumps into action, Chief Lee orders them not to.
He calls the time of death before looking up to see Do-joon’s secretary nod in acknowledgement in the observation deck.
Do-joon receives news of Yeo-jin’s passing moments later, and shares what should be sorrowful news to everyone with a twinge of excitement in his voice. At that moment Tae-hyun pulls back the sheet, revealing the dummy lying underneath. He appears as surprised as everyone else whereas Do-joon laughs victoriously.
As Yeo-jin is covered with a sheet in the operating room, Tae-hyun looks up again at Do-joon.
Let me take a minute here to let this episode sink in because yes, it’s that good. I can only hope that Tae-hyun has orchestrated this escape and mobilized all parties to his and Yeo-jin’s favor, though I doubt he factored in the possibility of getting shot during the mission. Even then, I have to remind myself that the end goal is to convince everyone else that Yeo-jin is presumed dead, which she now is. And yet, I’m sitting here on the edge of my seat and anxiously biting my nails because while the first part of that plan is complete, Tae-hyun must now hustle to revive Yeo-jin, stat.
Speaking of whom, the more we get to know Yeo-jin, the more I find myself drawn to her as well. She’s well-aware that her enemies see her as a trophy to fight over, and hell if she won’t use that to her advantage while she can. Though filled with the drive to bring down her enemies and putting up a strong front for everyone around her—and for good reason—she’s still human, fearful of the idea of being murdered in her sleep and never being able to wake again. Not only do we see her in her frightened state, she also allows Tae-hyun to share in her most emotionally vulnerable moment yet.
Which is why I love watching every moment of Tae-hyun and Yeo-jin’s budding friendship. His concern for her goes beyond their business deal, and I so enjoy watching them interact, whether it’s about her physical rehab or him asking after the people she can actually trust. I like that Tae-hyun doesn’t hold back with the questions either because not only does the asking satiate our curiosity, but it also challenges Yeo-jin to seriously contemplate about who has her best interest at heart.
That said, I hope we get to see more of Chief Lee’s inner struggle with the bosses he serves. There have been moments in this series when he’s troubled by the orders he receives, and a desire to put an end to the charade of keeping a woman barely alive. His moral ambiguity as an underling intrigues me in a different way than the crazed Nurse Hwang, though I’m inclined to believe that his deep-seeded fear and insecurity are what drives his actions. At first, I thought that he was someone who would be utterly relieved at any opportunity that would let him wash his hands of the responsibility, but Chief Lee knows just how deep he is in this secret crime, and Tae-hyun has voluntarily walked into it as well.
If there’s one more thing that I’m left wondering from this hour is what kind of man President Go really is. We’ve been told that he’s a man of preparation (and possibly played a role in last week’s cyclotron incident) but it isn’t until this episode that we’re shown any evidence of that. Thankfully there were so many twists and turns in the latter part of this hour that overshadows that detail for now, but if the businessman is going to be painted as another contender for Yeo-jin’s wealth and power, the man ought to bring more than a petition and an ambulance to the next show and tell.