Rigged to Blow
Episode 8 of Snowdrop begins with Chang-su rushing to Yeong-u’s hospital bedside. Yeong-u passes the promise he made at his mother’s grave to protect Yeong-ro onto Chang-su before flatlining.
That night at the dorm, Gang-mu cuts through his bonds with Chung-ya’s scalpel and stumbles upon the matron’s hidden door to find a room full of surveillance equipment. The matron herself sneaks to the bathroom to use her radio, identifying herself as “Rhine” while trying to contact someone she calls “VIP”.
We jump to Yeong-ro finding out about Yeong-u’s death. Soo-ho stops her from running down the booby-trapped stairway in her grief. Grief that turns to anger, which has her striking Soo-ho, blaming him until she passes out from the shock.
Hearing the commotion, the matron hides her radio in a sanitary bin in the bathroom and comes to check on Yeong-ro. Comrade Joo escorts her back to the cafeteria.
In the surveillance room, Gang-mu discovers transcripts of conversations from around the dorm. He listens in on Soo-ho ordering Comrade Joo to set up a bomb in the cafeteria in case the ANSP decides to retaliate for Yeong-u’s death.
Not wanting to ruffle any feathers, Gang-mu rushes back to 203 and slips the key to the hidden door in his boot. He’s shimmying back into the ropes when Soo-ho bursts in, gun raised. Soo-ho confiscates the scalpel and transfers Gang-mu back to the cafeteria.
Yeong-ro has been taken to 202 and Chung-ya has given her a sedative. When Soo-ho checks on her, Chung-ya warns him not to let his personal feelings ruin their mission. Soo-ho insists that he’s never had any.
After Soo-ho has left, Yeong-ro wakes up in a panic. While calming Yeong-ro down, Chung-ya takes notice of Soo-ho’s necklace and has a flashback to Soo-ho refusing to sell it to her and calling it more precious than his own life.
Not content to stay put, Yeong-ro finds Soo-ho and begs him to let her go to her brother’s funeral. Soo-ho drags her back to 202 but sees Chung-ya there and thinks better of it. Back to the cafeteria Yeong-ro goes.
Yeong-u’s death leaves Chang-su drowning too far in his sorrow to give much thought to how it has worked in his favour. With a son dead on the front lines and a daughter taken hostage, Park Mu-yeol (Aemin Party’s number one) acknowledges Chang-su’s patriotism. It doesn’t escape Tae-il that Mu-yeol will align with Chang-su to garner sympathy votes in the election.
Back at the dorm, Soo-ho finds the scarf Yeong-u gave Yeong-ro when he last visited her. Soo-ho offers it to Yeong-ro as a comfort.
Breakfast is served in the cafeteria as morning arrives. Gang-mu, Man-dong, and Bun-ok end up eating together in the kitchen. It’s the perfect opportunity for some subtle digging. Bun-ok, always ready to gossip, reveals that once a month the matron leaves at dawn and returns, exhausted, just before roll call.
Man-dong also has a story, and we flash back to the previous matron, Ms Song, in her fourth-floor cabin. She tells her superior over the phone that hiring the woman proposed to be her replacement would be an insult to her as well as a threat to dorm safety. She throws down the file of the woman in question – the current matron – who apparently has a cousin in Munich. Ms Song ends the call while doubling over in pain. According to Man-dong, she killed herself that same night.
At the ANSP headquarters, Han-na learns that Chief Ahn will announce that there are seven spies in the dorm in his upcoming press conference. She’s furious that he would risk putting the hostages in more danger, but he just vaguely alludes to the agreement happening behind her back.
As the conference begins, Han-na approaches an arrogant looking reporter sitting at the back of the hall and offers him a scoop.
Watching Chief Ahn exaggerate their situation on TV, Soo-ho’s doubts about the ANSP worsen. Chung-ya advises him to release half the hostages so that word about the true number of spies is leaked. Soo-ho notifies Tae-il – who is directing the dorm operation while Chang-su grieves – and demands supplies to be delivered by Han-na in exchange for the hostages.
Bun-ok finds the dead drop goods under the stove in the kitchen. Sang-beom comes in and stuffs wads of the cash into his jacket along with a gun.
Comrade Joo catches Sang-beom red-handed and takes back the money before shoving him back to the cafeteria. Sang-beom raises his stolen gun, clicking the safety off. Lacking experience, Sang-beom doesn’t realize it’s not loaded until he pulls the trigger, and nothing happens.
Man-dong shields Sang-beom with his own body as Comrade Joo delivers blow after blow. Gang-mu goads Comrade Joo to take the attention of them and almost gets himself shot. Soo-ho appears just in time to diffuse the situation and has Comrade Joo relocate Gang-mu, Man-dong, and Sang-beom to the dorm chapel. Hearing this, the matron gives Man-dong a meaningful look.
Once alone in the chapel, Gang-mu makes short work of his ropes and unties the other two men. Man-dong slides a mirror aside to reveal another secret passageway, which also leads to the secret exit on Mount Ogong.
Gang-mu uses it to leave the dorm. He finds a SWAT team idling outside and calls for them to follow him in. Instead, they fire warning shots at his feet and herd him back in on Tae-il’s order.
Gang-mu dodges Soo-ho and Comrade Joo – they came running at the sound of gunfire – and locks himself in the surveillance room. Checking what was recorded since he left, Gang-mu catches up on the South–North agreement and discovers that Chung-ya is a North Korean spy.
Soo-ho contacts Tae-il through the field phone, wanting to know about the gunshots. He isn’t reassured to hear that Tae-il sent his own agent back into the dorm to silence any fuss.
Finally seeing all the pieces in the puzzle, Gang-mu believes that everyone in the dorm is in danger. He leaves the surveillance room and tries to appeal to Soo-ho’s reason, explaining that Aemin Party is likely to kill everyone in the dorm to utilize the public’s anger for the election. Soo-ho doesn’t bite, confident in his Party’s plans.
Gang-mu, Man-dong, and Sang-beom are hauled back to the cafeteria. Yeong-ro discreetly asks Gang-mu how she can help them escape. He tells her to sit tight, warning her about the detonator in Soo-ho’s back pocket.
Yeong-ro asks to go to the bathroom and ends up in another dorm room with Soo-ho re-wrapping her bandages. The moment rewinds them back to the sincerity they used to share, and Soo-ho apologises for Yeong-u and assures Yeong-ro that he wants to leave in nine days without hurting anyone else. He also admits that he wants to release her, though he cannot.
When Soo-ho starts to leave, Yeong-ro embraces him from behind, telling him not to go. He turns her around and hugs her properly. Guard down, he’s unprepared when Yeong-ro snatches the detonator from his pocket and jumps away.
The Episode Review
Snowdrop did not exploit Episode 5’s momentum, allowing the past three episodes to stagnate into a set of repetitive patterns, broken only by a few revelations/developments that seemed like game changers but plateaued disappointingly.
The matron and Chung-ya are two of the most interesting characters in the dorm but they’ve been sorely under-utilized. At least, in the matron’s case, a little more of the mystery shrouding her has been lifted. Ms Song’s suicide is looking more like a cover-up and the matron’s connections link her to Germany, where Soo-ho and Gang-mu had been playing cat and mouse.
The cliff-hanger this episode leaves us on promises a break from the monotony. It was fun to watch Yeong-ro play Soo-ho at his own game – let’s see if she’s smart enough to make it count.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|