The Power Struggle
Rugal returns this week with another dose of sci-fi and as the power struggle at Argos continues, Ki-Beom starts to investigate the implant and those behind creating it. All of this builds up to a showdown between our two leads but unfortunately ends up a bit too underwhelming given what we’ve seen so far in this drama.
In the aftermath of Dae-Sik killing himself, episode 3 of Rugal begins with Ki-Beom taking the strange implant from the man’s forehead. Deciding against taking him to headquarters, Ki-Beom instead takes him to the K-Hospital for further examination. It turns out the device is used for “brain doping” and this electrical current blew his brain up.
On the back of this, Ki-Beom heads back to headquarters where Geun-Cheol updates them on the situation and tells the group an internal feud will break out at Argos – which is an opportune time for them to act. As the group prepare to mobilize, Ki-Beom asks Tae-Woong about his backstory but he remains cagey, refusing to disclose exactly what happened in the past. As we find out later on in the episode, the death of close family has been the driving force in his quest for justice.
Outside, Tae-Woong and Gwang-Cheol scout the building site and in particular, a man named Choi Yong who’s in charge of these construction projects. He’s also a man who’s used to bribing politicians and as we cut across to the credit bank CEO, Man-Cheol, the operation begins. Ki-Beom gets into position on the rooftop, scouting the different members of Argos.
When Ye-Won finds herself surrounded by Man-Cheol’s men outside, Ki-Beom interjects and saves Ye-Won from her fate. She thanks him for his help and he walks away, but not before noticing her Argos card standing out prominently in her purse.
Deuk-Ga is put into a difficult position and forced to act following incriminating information about Man-Cheol being spilled. Deuk-Ga beats him down to the ground before taking him outside and telling the man he needs to disappear. Before he does however, he mentions Ye-Won and tells him she tried to take money for herself. Having heard enough, Man-Cheol is taken away.
From afar, Ki-Beom’s camera feed continues to record and as we cut to the headquarters, we see him discussing matters with the team. He promises to destroy Deuk-Ga given he’s now Vice-Chairman of Argos.
Back at Rugal Headquarters, Ki-Beom talks to Bradley about the different functions of his eyes and it’s here we learn these can also operate with a real-time feed. Ki-Beom speaks to Bradley about this function and the latter admits he spied on him during the incident with Ye-Won.
Mi-Na continues to train Ki-Beom, this time attacking him with a knife. After he smiles, she tells him to take things seriously as he hones his fighting skills.
Deuk-Ga confronts Ye-Won over the money he found and asks who the man in black was. Although she tells him it’s none of his business, Deuk-Ga continues to pry before she bites back and tells him she hates him. For now, this remains a volatile situation but Ye-Won certainly has people at her disposal she can use to turn the tide of battle in her favour.
Meanwhile, Gi-Tae, a man investigating Argos, is captured with his family and tortured. However, this proves to be a perfect opportunity for Ki-Beom to test out his fighting power and he saves him from his fate. As it turns out, Deuk-Ga is behind Dae-Sik’s implant and as he talks to his medical team, he works them to the bone in the hope of perfecting this. Deuk-Ga tells them to keep working as the scientists look at him in exasperation at the task ahead.
Ki-Beom continues to look into the stolen implant with Bradley, studying the sine waves on the computer. Ki-Beom heads out to investigate, bringing him to a nearby parking lot. There, he spots Deuk-Ga and chases after him. Bradley spills the truth about what Ki-Beom’s been doing with the rest of the team and they scramble to get the cameras up, watching as Ki-Beom confronts Deuk-Ga.
As they look set to fight, Geun-Cheol lets the team interject and stop Deuk-Ga from being killed, instead deciding he should be brought to the police. While the team race out, Ki-Beom crushes his ear piece and the two start fighting. Ki-Beom turns off his artificial eyes too, pointing a gun at Deuk-Ga and preparing to fire. However, Geun-Cheol tells the team to shut him down and as he falls to the ground in pain, Deuk-Ga calls him a defect and walks away as the police arrive.
With an episode that builds on the growing rivalry at Argos and a big action set piece at the end, Rugal continues to deliver enjoyable enough drama if you can look past some of the plot holes. The sci-fi elements themselves aren’t great and at times the production design does feel a bit cheap too. The characters have, so far at least, been pretty underwhelming and Ki-Beom lacks the charisma needed to really carry the show.
Usually this can be forgivable in the first couple of episodes as a drama finds its footing but here, the same sci-fi woes appear to be hitting Rugal too. The ending with Deuk-Ga does feel a bit contrived and given how relentless and cold a killer Deuk-Ga is, the decision for him not to kill Ki-Beom feels like a pretty big deal. Still, hopefully the show can deliver deeper characterisation and help us really care about these guys in the weeks to come but for now, Rugal appears to be slipping into mediocrity pretty quickly.
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!