Goodbye Mr. Black Episode 2

 

This is definitely more of what I wanted from Goodbye Mr. Black—our hero on the run, pushed to the brink with nowhere to go and everyone closing in on him. He was less interesting as the perfect golden boy who had it all, but now that we’re starting to see a glimpse of what he’ll become, I like where we’re headed. Is it wrong that I’m rooting for our hero to lose everything and everyone he loves? I’m just excited for Dark Lee Jin-wook to enter the building is all.

 

 
SONG OF THE DAY

MC Mong ft. Lyn – “도망가자” (Let’s Run Away) [ Download ]

 

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

As our golden boy naval officer Ji-won arrives at his fancy hotel suite in Thailand, his thoughts wander to Kaya, the woman he met in the street. He’d asked his friend CEO Kim about her, and learned that she was an orphan found in a heap of trash after a tsunami flooded her town, and was left with no memory of who she was.

Ji-won gazes at his family photo and calls Dad, which is the scene that closed out the last episode. Dad’s just been shot and best friend Sun-jae is frozen with fear and indecision. Sun-jae trembles as he picks up the phone, but can’t manage to utter a sound, and when Ji-won senses that something is wrong and asks who this is, Sun-jae hangs up. Ack, that was the moment, wasn’t it?

Sun-jae sees a figure passing by and runs after the killer, pausing in front of a broken mirror that disfigures his reflection. (Yunno, in case we didn’t get it without the Symbolism!) He manages to fight the gunman and get the upper hand, only to have a gun turned on him by Teacher Baek, the mysterious puppetmaster who’s been angling to take over Sunwoo Group.

Teacher Baek says it looks like Sun-jae is done playing the surrogate son, and asks what he’s going to do about Chairman Cha because he’s still breathing. At the same time, Ji-won calls his little sister Ji-soo because Dad isn’t answering his phone. She’s alarmed because she’s out when she should be at home, so she lies and says that Dad is asleep.

Back at the scene of the murder, Teacher Baek points out that Sun-jae can’t exactly go back to Chairman Cha now, and though the Chairman might’ve thrown him away, Teacher Baek needs him. Teacher Baek dangles the carrot: “I’ll make you the owner of Sunwoo Group.”

Sun-jae doesn’t believe him, but Teacher Baek points out that Sun-jae would’ve killed Chairman Cha himself if Baek hadn’t pulled the trigger first. He asks if Ji-won will really take his word when he ended the call like that, and says that Sun-jae’s life has been pathetic thus far because he always made his own choices: “Don’t choose. Just trust me, and you’ll get everything you want.”

Tears fall from Sun-jae’s eyes as he thinks of running away from his father, disowning him, and the false step that led him here. He doesn’t say anything, but Teacher Baek can tell he’s got him and they lower their weapons. And then just to be sure, Baek’s henchman puts the final bullet in Chairman Cha, who dies immediately, and the family photo he’d taken out with his bloody hand flies away with the wind.

Ji-won calls his girlfriend Mari and asks her to check on Dad, because he can’t trust Little Sis and is pretty sure she’s off on a date with Sun-jae or something. They’re adorably sweet with each other and he brightly suggests they get married here on the beach in Thailand, remembering that they used to come here often when they were kids. She loves the idea, and he beams.

Sun-jae returns wearily to his hotel, where Ji-won rams him up against the wall in the hallway. He accuses Sun-jae of keeping something from him, and Sun-jae is so freaked out and on edge that he fights back (dropping a pen in the process), not catching that Ji-won is joking as usual.

Sun-jae says he had to come on a last-minute trip to run an errand for Chairman Cha, and doesn’t notice that there’s blood on his sleeve until Ji-won points it out. He says he had a bloody nose earlier and insists he’s too tired to have drinks, leaving Ji-won disappointed.

In his room, Sun-jae frantically washes the blood out of his shirt and then belatedly remembers the pen he’d had in his coat pocket. He panics when it’s not there, and scrambles down the hotel hallway where he discovers it on the ground. It’s a recorder, and it contains his entire conversation with Teacher Baek.

Sun-jae narrowly misses being discovered by Ji-won in the hallway, and returns to his room where he sits fully clothed in the shower, just sobbing.

The next morning, Ji-won tries calling Dad again and reluctantly heads into the training facility. Sun-jae waits until Ji-won has gone and he and Teacher Baek set up a trail of evidence to make it look like Chairman Cha was fighting a drug addiction, and that he died of an overdose-related heart attack.

Sun-jae plays the part of the grieving surrogate son in front of Chairman Cha’s secretary, and insists that the drug addiction be kept private within the family. Once he’s alone with the body, Sun-jae turns cold and tells Chairman Cha not to hate him too much: “You threw me away first.”

Back in Seoul, Sunwoo Group’s shady Director Seo calls Teacher Baek as soon as he hears the news of the chairman’s death. Teacher Baek just tells him to stand by and watch how Sun-jae handles things, but Director Seo books the first flight to Thailand instead.

Word finally reaches Ji-won at the training camp, and his father is already laid to rest in a coffin by the time he arrives. He opens the lid in disbelief and asks Dad to open his eyes for just a second, and finally Sun-jae has to pull him off and plead with Ji-won to get it together. He whispers that it wasn’t just a simple heart attack, and that drugs were involved.

Ji-won doesn’t believe a word of it, and is hellbent on reinvestigating everything himself to prove that this was a setup. Sun-jae holds him back repeatedly, insisting that they have to keep this quiet to preserve Chairman Cha’s honor. Ji-won refuses to accept that his father had a drug problem, until Sun-jae shows him that the same painkiller that his doctor prescribed for his leg pain was what he took in excessive quantities.

Suspicious Director Seo arrives and pushes for an autopsy to be done in Korea because there are rumors floating around about the chairman, which of course puts Sun-jae on edge. He defers to Ji-won to make the decision and holds his breath…

Ji-won looks determined to follow through on the autopsy and investigation, but once his little sister arrives with Mari and cries over Dad’s body, he decides that they won’t do an autopsy after all. Sun-jae finally lets out a breath of relief.

As Dad’s body is cremated, Ji-won takes out the compass he always carries, given to him by his father when he joined the navy. He clutches it in his hand, and salutes his father one last time.

Meanwhile, our minor-league con artist Kaya waits to pawn off more passports, and her thoughts drift to cheeky and thoughtful Ji-won. Her con artist friend/broker Sung-min doesn’t give her nearly enough payment for the passports, despite the fact that he’s got a safe chock full of money and gold. He must be sending money to his daughter back home, because he talks to a portrait of a little girl.

Kaya waits till Sung-min steps out of his house to dump a trashcan over his head for shortchanging her, and she warns that next time, it’ll be poop water.

Ji-won sits by his sister’s bedside with this faraway look in his eyes, and his girlfriend Mari worries when he steps out for some air. He promises to be back soon, and then heads out to the crime scene where his father’s body was discovered. He imagines Dad’s last moments as described by the falsified police report: Dad bought drugs from a local dealer, overdosed, and answered that last phone call from his son just before dying.

Ji-won turns around to go back when something catches his eye—a suspicious-looking man who’s clearly on his tail. Ji-won lures the spy into the marketplace and disappears, and then follows the guy sent to tail him, ha, all the way back to his compound. It’s a large warehouse filled with drugs and weapons, and Kaya’s broker Sung-min is there too, operating on one of the henchmen. But the person Ji-won recognizes is the boss wielding a gun, whose face he remembers from the lobby of Dad’s company.

Ji-won grabs Sung-min to ask who the boss is, but Sung-min takes out his scalpel and stabs Ji-won in the side. Ji-won knocks him out with one punch, but he makes such a ruckus when he goes down that everyone comes running out to see what happened.

While scrambling to hide out of sight, Ji-won sneaks inside the warehouse and discovers the bloody family photo that his father had held in his last moments. It’s proof that he was murdered here, and Ji-won fights off the henchmen so that he can escape with the evidence.

Sun-jae calls looking for him, and is terrified when Ji-won says he’s found proof that Dad was murdered. More henchmen come out in droves, so Ji-won makes a break for it. Cue: high-speed waterway chase, that ends with a shower of bullets as Ji-won dives into the water.

Sun-jae goes to see Teacher Baek at a boxing match and tells him that Ji-won is special forces; he’ll surely have survived. Teacher Baek is unruffled and points out the two boxers in the ring below, and how the one who fears his opponent more will lose in the end. He asks if Sun-jae is that afraid of Ji-won, and wonders if he’ll go so far as to kill him.

But Teacher Baek has a minion brought to him instead—the one who lost his gun to Ji-won during the chase and swam away. The man pleads for mercy, but Baek’s right-hand man shoots him in cold blood and Sun-jae flinches.

Meanwhile Ji-won swims to safety and limps down the street clutching his side, and stops at an outdoor café when he sees a news broadcast about the murder of a local man… where he’s the supposed killer. Agh, Teacher Baek dumped that body back in the river and handed over security footage that happened to capture Ji-won in the moment when he stole the gun, and it looks like Ji-won shot him point-blank.

We see Teacher Baek approving of the frame job, making sure to make Sun-jae complicit every step of the way. Now that Ji-won is a wanted fugitive, the hotel is crawling with cops, and Sun-jae stops Mari from running out to go looking for Ji-won. He agrees with her that Ji-won wouldn’t have killed anybody, but says the evidence against him is going to be difficult to fight.

Director Seo comments on how conveniently everything is falling into place, and asks Sun-jae if he’s not the person moving all the pieces around. Sun-jae feels a pang of guilt but shouts back defensively that Ji-won is his friend and Chairman Cha was like a father to him, so no further explanation is needed. Yeah, you’d think so.

Mari discovers an open window when she return to her room, and just as she hoped, Ji-won appears and wraps his arms around her from behind. He urges her not to turn around and look at him because he’s a mess, but she turns around anyway and clutches his face longingly.

He swears he didn’t do it, but she doesn’t need convincing. She just asks if they can go home now, and he says with a smile that they’ll have to postpone their wedding a little longer. He asks her to go back home and wait for him there, and promises to come for her. When someone arrives at the door, he disappears the second her back is turned.

Mari bursts into tears and tells Sun-jae that Ji-won was just here, so Sun-jae goes running and catches up to him, and Ji-won slams him into the wall again. Ji-won says the whole thing was a cover-up and he knows who’s behind it, making Sun-jae sweat.

He knows no names but remembers Teacher Baek and his henchman’s faces, and says he’s going to Korea to reopen this investigation and figure out who those men are. Ji-won refuses to involve Sun-jae because he doesn’t want his friend getting hurt (agh, just twist that knife, why don’t you).

Sun-jae knows he can’t convince him otherwise, and just tells Ji-won to go through China first, and he’ll figure out a way to get him back to Korea. You mean in a body bag, don’t you? For now he acts as a decoy and gives Ji-won the chance to escape.

Ji-won goes straight to Kaya and helps her get a wallet back from a pair of street thugs, and asks for her to get him a passport so he can leave the country. He doesn’t have a photo, so he tells her to find someone who looks like him, leaning in close so she can memorize his face. Like she hasn’t already. Kaya scoffs, “Where will I find a face like yours?” Right?

He gives her all the money he has and his watch too, and when she asks where she can find him, he says he’ll come to her: “Wherever you are, I’ll find you.”

Kaya goes to Sung-min with her wad of cash and looks through his stack of ID cards, frowning when she can’t find one with dark brows, a tall nose, and red lips. Sung-min says the wanted man on the front page has those features, and tells her to turn her attention to catching that guy, offering to split the massive cash reward.

He shows her the newspaper and her eyes widen to see Ji-won right there on the front page, and Sung-min tells her he’s a murder suspect who didn’t actually commit murder, not that he’s about to tell anyone he knows that.

Kaya goes to the beach and Ji-won is stalking her as promised, and when he comes out from behind a tree, she gives him his watch, his money, and his new ID card, wrapped in the newspaper with his face on the front page. She tells him she doesn’t ever want to see him again, and he takes the hint.

He puts the money and watch back in her hand before walking away, and Kaya stops to warn him that he sticks out like a sore thumb because of his height. (I love that she’s always complimenting him sideways: “Why are you so needlessly tall?”) She tells him to wait two nights because the market will open in a few days, and a flood of people will be crossing the border. She tells him not to get caught, and he tells her to run away if people are bothering her, and not to get hurt.

When the marketplace opens, Ji-won gets in line with the other merchants to cross the border. He does a crap job of answering questions though, because he doesn’t understand that they’re asking him to take off his hat. He’s seconds away from being reported when suddenly Kaya shows up by his side with her wig on, smoothly telling the officer that this is her husband and he has a head injury, pfft.

They barely make it through, and she tells him that they’re supposed to be married and he should hang his mouth to sell the brain deficiency, and he laughs. Ji-won doesn’t notice that the border is filling up with Teacher Baek’s henchmen, but thankfully Kaya spots the killer. The problem is, their acquaintance CEO Kim spots Ji-won first and calls out his name, blowing their cover.

Ji-won makes a run for it and CEO Kim does what he can to give him a head start and make up for his mistake, but Killer catches up to Ji-won as he’s zip-lining across the street and shoots him in the shoulder.

He lands in the street just as a truck is headed his way, and instead of getting out of the road, he lies perfectly still right in the path of the oncoming truck… and disappears right out from under it when it drives off. Oh, is he hanging on underneath the truck? Smooth getaway for a guy with a gunshot wound.

At the hotel, Sunwoo Group’s executives arrive in Thailand en masse to meet with Little Sister Ji-soo, who’s likely the only person with power of attorney over her father’s shares in the company right now. Eep, don’t sign anything!

Teacher Baek’s henchman goes to Sung-min with a photo of Ji-won and Kaya, asking if he knows about the stolen ID card used. But Sung-min lies that he knows nothing about it, keeping Kaya out of it for now.

Kaya returns to her little cottage and calls out hesitantly, “I’m here! I’m here…” She looks a little disappointed that Ji-won isn’t following her like he was before, and mutters out loud that it doesn’t matter whether he lives or dies.

Suddenly Ji-won’s shaky voice calls out, “I can’t die.” He’s sitting under her stairs, clutching his bleeding shoulder. He continues, “I have nowhere to go. I have no money. But let me sleep here for just one night.”

Before she can answer, he passes out.

 
COMMENTS

I love a good fugitive story, so I wouldn’t mind it if we spent a good chunk of the drama with Ji-won on the run. We’ll likely get more revenge than running when all is said and done, but there’s a nice arc here in watching the sweet naïve Ji-won learn how to survive among sharks. He’s physically capable, given his military training, but he’s also kind of hapless and making all sorts of mistakes, and I’d really enjoy watching the character develop street smarts and actually outwit the bad guys, rather than just get lucky and barely escape with his life. And I’m sure that a plucky streetwise girl would be happy to teach him the ropes.

I know the setup is clichéd, but I really like Ji-won and Kaya together. She kind of brings him to life, and they have a really great energy together that makes me forget sometimes that terrible things are happening to him. I suppose she could be written with more duality—say, to make us worried that she might’ve turned him over to the police for the reward money—but honestly I’m okay with one genuinely good person in the world helping Ji-won out, because he’s about to be betrayed by everyone and could use a friend. I already liked her, but she won me over when she showed up to rescue him at the border with her lame cover story and made him laugh. It’s also just obvious that he finds her really cute, which makes the romance aspect something I’m looking forward to during the episode, instead of something that feels shoehorned into the classic revenge narrative. Because you could get a lot more revenging done with a resourceful girl friday by your side. Just sayin’.

I’m glad things are moving quickly in terms of the betrayal, because we’re getting great character moments for both Sun-jae and Ji-won as they go further down diverging paths. I’m surprised at myself sometimes as I’m watching, because I have sympathy for Sun-jae and feel suspense whenever he might get caught in one of his lies. I know he’s doing terrible things, but I find myself rooting for him, at least in the moment, to steer clear of danger and not get caught by Ji-won. I’m sure that’s about to change the more he lets himself become the villain, but right now he’s still just reacting to everything out of cowardice and self-preservation, and I find his actions sad but relatable. I like that his motivation is made very clear from the start, and that we see him making all the wrong choices incrementally.

I do wish the writing could be a little sharper and stay ahead of the audience, because so far there’s nothing in the first two episodes that I didn’t already anticipate. (I mean, a bloody family photograph is your Big Evidence of foul play? Really? And what kind of cops are foiled by Photoshop?) But the big moments land for me because of the actors, which is really what I’m watching for. And hey, maybe I’ll even be rewarded with more action like today and an endearing romance on the side.

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