Happiness – K-Drama Episode 8 Recap & Review

Human Nature

Episode 8 of Happiness begins with some of the residents wanting to move. Specifically up to the 11th floor. Now, given the rules in place here about “lowly residents”, they call on the knowledge of Kook Hae-Sung to help navigate this legal minefield. Joo-Yeong though is against Ko Se-Kyu, Andrew and Moon-Hee (the cleaning staff proposing the move) heading up. For now, they’re going to hold off for a few days.

As the power is cut that night, the different residents all settle in. Rain hammers down while Hyun-Kyung heads down to the reception area and finds an infected Soo-Min outside, clutching his neck and still in his normal state. In the distance, a door opens. Later we find out who this is.

Up on the rooftop in the morning, Yu-Hyun and Sae-Bom show up and check out the different containers full of water. Se-Hun is there too of course, revealing that he has water purification tablets, which theey’re welcome to use.

The pair head inside and run into the cleaning lady on the way down the stairs. She’s found numerous bloody rags pulled out from the trash. It seems to belong to someone on the third or fourth floor… but of course we know who it is.

Meanwhile, Tae-Seok begins to use the blood obtained from Sae-Bom to try and formulate a cure. For now, it seems like it’s working, as some test subjects are showing a marginal sign of improvement. Of course, Tae-Seok jumps all over this and decides to try and put this into action, making sure they press ahead with clinical trials.

Remember that flashlight blast from last episode? Well, it turns out Joo-Yeong actually offered Soo-Min a lunchbox. At that time Soo-Min was initially afraid and decided not to head inside. It’s only when he saw Hyun-Kyung the previous night that he encouraged her brother to head in. She’s keeping him safe in her room, which Yi-Hyun and Sae-Bom soon find out while doing their rounds. They encourage the pair to stay home when the lockdown lifts, wanting to explain the situation to the authorities.

Meanwhile, Dong-Hyun starts to realize his mum may well be infected. Loud, ominous banging at night only reinforces that. For now they remain hopeful, especially as the lockdown is due to be lifted in the morning.

The big day arrives and all the apartment gang gather together in the gym. A cool-box full of water is there for them all, which their building rep immediately takes the credit for. In reality, it’s actually Joo-Hyeong’s doing.

The lockddown is due to be lifted imminently but no one is particularly enthused about venturing outside right now. Sae-Bom and Yi-Hyun do though, but as they stand in the courtyard, alarms wail. Martial law has been extend indefinitely, meaning the apartment residents are going to have to hang tight for now.

Off the back of this, everything starts to fall apart. The Building Rep decides to distribute the food across to those at the higher levels, meaning those who risked their lives will be left with nothing. As hostilities grow, Hae-Sung ends up cheating on his wife with Sang-Hee. Joo-Hyeong immediately suspects something is up and scoffs at the notion.

The cleaning staff, led by Se-Kyu, decide to hoard the bottles of water and sell them on to others for an extortionate fee. In fact, he tells Joo-Hyeong be needs to pay 200,000 won. Dong-Hyun starts to grow spooked, and shows up at Se-Kyu’s door with food, water and a proposition. He believes his mum is infected and wants a place to stay.

Well, they let him in but it also means the cleaning lady from before will need to leave. She decides to head up to the fourth floor and try her luck there.

While this is going on, Jung-Kook starts to slip further into the cult. Following his religious run-in last episode, he’s been struggling. Oh Yeon-Ok (the building rep) jumps all over this and decides to ask him to check on Sae-Bom and her possible infection. When he returns home, Jung-Kook starts to grow more paranoid.

Joo-Hyeong has been a constant thorn in everyone’s side and now it becomes clear that he’s got a lot more going on. He was the one who found Hyun-kyung the previous night and knows she’s keeping Soo-Min locked up in her flat. He heads down to see the building rep and encourages her to head inside this secret room, where she notices Soo-Min for herself. Unfortunately she uses this as a bargaining chip to try and become the official rep for the complex.

A livid Sae-Bom heads up to confront Joo-Hyeong. It turns out he’s trying to weed out the infected among them, working out who is going to turn… Or is he? After taking several mouthfuls, he heads into the bathroom and starts vomiting. But why?

Well, it turns out he’s spiked all the bottles with Next. He wants to clear his own murder charge for his wife and believes this is the way to do it. However, Yi-Hyun calls him out on his BS. He’s actually swapped all the Next pills for indigestion tablets. So Joo-Hyeong’s plan is a bust.

Unfortunately, as Yi-Hyun and Sae-Bom take Joo-Hyeong out the room in handcuffs, a shaky Jung-Kook stands with his gun pointed at them. He’s decided they should quarantine Sae-Bom and Yi-Hyun too, given they were in contact with the infected.

Meanwhile, Tae-Seok makes his choice in front of the President and all his cronies. Instead of giving them an antidote, he’s actually given them all the infection, intending to turn them on purpose so he has more test subjects to try and administer the vaccine on. But is it too late? Will Tae-Seok even manage to find a solution before Korea succumbs to this infection?

The Episode Review

On one level, Happiness is a simple zombie thriller with Korea plunged into chaos, but the deeper levels are why this show works so well. The very real human drama, from the selfless becoming the selfish, to the manipulation and fear, works so well to showcase exactly what people are really like in these high-pressure situations.

The cleaning staff, for example, decide to hoard all the resources and sell them back at a higher price. We’ve seen people in our own quarantine and lockdowns doing this and it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Likewise, the Building Rep preying on Jung-Kook’s insecurity and fear, convincing him to become irrational and quarantine our protagonists, is made all the more dangerous because of him holding a gun.

All these little additions really help the show come into its own and Happiness has been pretty impressive with the way it’s handled this. The zombies aren’t really needed this episode, to be honest, and as a human study to show the extremes people will go to cover their own backs. The ending hints that the final four episodes are going to start ramping up the drama, leaving lots of intriguing possibilities for how this may end.

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You can read our full season review for Happiness here!


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