Rugal returns this week with another slice of sci-fi drama as the rivalry between Argos and Rugal continues to grow. At the same time, the team start to close in on Deuk-Ga, who continues his experiments in the diabolical laboratory underground. With a bit more banter between the characters this time and some investigative work too, Rugal continues to offer entertaining drama, even if it’s not quite as tightly written as it could be.
Episode 5 of Rugal begins with a dream sequence at the police station, as Ki-Beom’s artificial eyes start to play up, seeing people’s faces as glitched computer screens. He immediately awakens and has tests done to make sure he’s still fully compliant. Tae-Woong comes to greet him and informs Ki-Beom that the team meeting is coming up.
With a power struggle developing at Argos, Rugal are given a new case, this one surrounding a murder involving a man linked with Argos. At the same time, Deuk-Ga encourages Ye-Won to talk about Min-Jung and her ties with him. While they talk, Deuk-Ga looks over the CCTV footage of Ki-Beom fighting the zombies before Chairman Ko’s men arrive and try to force him out. Instead, Deuk-Ga calls Dal-Ho in, resulting in Deuk-Ga asserting his dominance and removing the men.
He goes one step further too, injecting Choi-Yong with the serum he’s been working with in the underground laboratory before explaining that Argos is just a stepping stone for bigger things. As the serum starts to work, Deuk-Ga switches the machine on and awaits the effects. He manages to convince Choi-Yong to give up crucial intel reading, “VIP Safe At Mopin, Unit 1004”.
Ye-Won comes under fire for what happened to Min-Jung but she holds her own, prompting Mi-Joo to immediately bite back and tells her she needs to be compliant or she’ll squash her like a bug. With this weighing heavily over her, Ki-Beom takes advantage and decides to do what Min-Jung could not – place an informant inside Argos using Ye-Won’s trust in him.
On the back of this, Ki-Beom heads off to the junk yard, the same one Gwang-Cheol was taken to in the previous episode. Tae-Woong and Mi-Na arrive and together they investigate the scene. Inside they find the charred remains of a severed hand.
Back at headquarters the team discuss the undercover police officers and the next phase of their plan, specifically how this ties in to the freezer truck and what they found at the junk yard. While they do, a shadowy informant drops off a severed head in a park, which the police grab and subsequently give to Rugal. They recognize the man as someone from the jazz club, Jae-Han, who uploaded a video about what was happening at the time. Only, it turns out to be a fake, a prosthetic head used as a message and the real Jae-Han may still be alive.
On the back of this, the police deliver a statement which the public rally against, especially given the officers don’t implicate Argos. An online petition gains over 200,000 signatures and it twists the hand of the higher-ups to allow Geun-Cheol to bring Rugal into the fold and pursue the case.
Inside a warehouse, found thanks to CCTV footage of the informant, Ki-Beom and the others fight their way in and decide to look around with the keys they obtain. With newly built refrigerated warehouses and a layout that doesn’t match the blueprints, they hurry down to the basement and find the real Jae-Han hooked up to numerous IVs but still alive. Only, they let their guard down and find themselves trapped inside. Even worse, the guards outside start to drop the temperature.
With no other way out, Tae-Woong sacrifices his artificial arm to turn into a bomb to fight their way out. The door blasts off its hinges and Ki-Beom teams up with Mi-Na to dispatch the numerous guards on their way out the warehouse. When more guards show up, Ki-Beom buys them precious time and fights his way through them.
Sensing that Min-Jung may be nearby, he continues to investigate until Deuk-Ga arrives. “Welcome to my world”, he says in English as Ki-Beom sighs and reveals himself from the shadows. Deuk-Ga tells him that killing someone opened up a whole new world for him and as he continues to monologue, he tells Ki-Beom he’s prepared a gift – that gift being Min-Jung but clearly under the control of Deuk-Ga. He give Ki-Beom a choice between stopping him or saving two captive children, as an electrified green fence separates him from Min-Jung and Ki-Beom.
While the humorous dialogue between the characters is a nice touch, Rugal fails to really capitalize on this and deliver some consistent characterisation for the team. At the moment it feels like the show is missing the depth needed to get us invested in the characters while Deuk-Ga’s maniacal villain feels less threatening with every episode that passes.
Still, the show does have a good colour palette and there’s plenty to like about this one. If you go into this expecting lighthearted sci-fi and don’t take it too seriously, Rugal is an enjoyable enough show.
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!