After last episode’s questionable ending, Rugal dusts itself down and delivers a pretty exciting episode, even if it does have a few questionable elements placed throughout. If you can take to the action and take this one at face value, there’s a simple enough thriller at the heart of this one that should make for easy watching.
Episode 4 of Rugal sees the team grab Ki-Beom and bring him back to Headquarters. In his room, he begins hallucinating and seeing the ghost of Deuk-Ga stalking him. This has clearly haunted Ki-Beom and caused him to lose focus. As it turns out, this was actually all a computer simulation, designed to test whether Ki-Beom still has mental clarity or not. With his vital signs a bit above normal, they decide to test him physically where the group witness his oxygen levels spiking at record highs.
Meanwhile, Mi-Na expresses how unhappy she is about the whole Deuk-Ga situation. She believes they should have let Ki-Beom kill Deuk-Ga right there, given the pain he’s caused everyone, but Geun-Cheol is not so sure. Tae-Woong arrives though and updates their leader that Deuk-Ga slipped away and they’ve been unable to track him. On the back of this, Geun-Cheol speaks to his superior, Park No-Sik, and asks him to grant his team the ability to kill.
Deuk-Ga heads back to his base and continues to work with the implants, unfortunately resulting in them losing another patient. He bemoans the lack of progress and tells the doctors to throw the next subject away.
After the earlier testing, Ki-Beom speaks to the team and starts to get to know them properly, heading out and playing pool. Ki-Beom’s technique however, is seriously lacking. However, he manages to use his artificial eyes to gain the advantage and pots all the balls in one fell swoop. In the aftermath of this, the group head out under the stars and discuss their roles within Rugal.
Deuk-Ga confronts Ye-Won and Min-Jung at the Jazz club and questions just what they’re doing together. Given they look like they’re scheming, Deuk-Ga gets a whiff of this and suspects the worst. While they talk, Rugal are tasked with investigating that very same Jazz club. Once there, Mi-Na unwinds with alcohol and starts to enjoy the music, as an uptight Ki-Beom remains reserved and shiftily looking around.
Deuk-ga makes his move and unleashes some a trio of zombified subjects on the jazz club. While Ki-Beom arrives to try and stop them, Gwang-Cheol’s unfortunately captured in the chaos and thrown in the back of a freezer lorry.
Tae-Woong and Mi-Na spot his destroyed ear-piece outside and try to work out what to do next. Ye-Won arrives at the club and demands to know who started the commotion. The guards there hand her a letter holding clues around just who Min-Jung really is – he happens to be an undercover police officer. Angry, Ye-Won teams up with Deuk-Ga and bashes Min-Jung across the face until Deuk-Ga stops her just before things get too violent, reminding her they need him alive.
Ki-Beom meanwhile fights off the zombies before Tae-Woong arrives to help. Together, they race off in search of the lorry holding Gwang-Cheol. They get there just in time too and carry Gwang-Cheol to safety after dispatching the guards. Geun-Cheol admits the truth to Ki-Beom surrounding just who Min-Jung really is and it gets him searching the CCTV footage from that night to try and piece together what happened.
Using the decrypted implant, Ki-Beom finds more information out about Deuk-Ga but as painful memories of the past come flooding back, he promises to get his revenge.
Between the team bonding session at the pool club and the gorgeous lighting in the Jazz club during the final act of this episode, Rugal does a good job to add a bit more depth to proceedings. The production design is a little better although the decision to add zombies into the mix is a little cliched, especially given how they’re used here. Still, there’s some good progression for the key characters which is good but Ki-Beom continues to suffer from a real lack of empathy.
It’s difficult to really get behind this guy and whether it be the archetypal back-story and manner this has played out or the lack of emotional depth with his character so far, it’s actually the supporting characters that are the more interesting – especially Tae-Woong. With the villains feeling like they’ve been ripped from a comic book (which is fitting given this is based on a web-comic), this is one of those K-dramas that’s likely to find an audience but may not have that same mainstream appeal other shows have.
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!