Once again, it seems like the tables are turned against Yoo Jin and finally, Sung-won has infiltrated Cloud 9 with what seems like a rather potent weapon. However, at this point in the story, I’ve lost interest in the presidential race and the schemings pertaining to JB Group. I’m more keen to see how the more personal drama between Yoo Jin and Je Ha pans out, because this has been the most fascinating relationshp of the show thus far and we do get some interesting dynamics here.
It’s undeniable that Song Yun-ah is the star of this entire series and she puts in an amazing performance in this episode, playing Yoo Jin with such complexity and sensitivity. We see in this episode that she’s clearly concerned about Je Ha, and that goes beyond his utility to her as a security guard. She’s not one who’s lavish with her praise, but in this episode, she says “Good job” twice to those who’ve assisted in ensuring Je Ha is safe and alive.
I really enjoyed her performance in her scene with Anna, when Anna relents and calls her “mom” in a desperate attempt for her to see Je Ha. Yoo Jin’s facial expression says so much. Her cold exterior almost cracks and her eyes get watery, but she never goes so far as to cry. Being called “mum” touches her heart as it’s a feeling that’s so new to her, not having had her own children or anyone use such an term of endearment with her. She turns back and hugs Anna in such an exaggerated, dramatic manner, as a means to hide what she truly feels inside. It seems almost as a denial of her own feelings to those around her and more importantly, to herself. When she finally agrees to let Anna see Je Ha, her facial expression changes and we see her “game-on”, scheming face as she then realises that letting Anna see Je-Ha is advantageous to her desire to get Anna to leave. It’s really a masterful performance as we see Song Yun-ah seamlessly display such a range of emotions.
I haven’t spoken about Chief Secretary Kim previously, but I really think Shin Dong-mi deserves a mention. She doesn’t say much throughout the episode, but her facial expressions and body language are so telling. She quietly supports and acts as a pillar of strength to Madam during the scene above, steadily moving ahead even when Yoo Jin pauses after Anna calls her mum. When Yoo Jin shows sign of crumbling, Chief Kim’s face darkens and shows genuine concern. While Yoo Jin tends to Je Ha’s recovery, Chief Kim looks on intently, and you can see her worry about Madam being too concerned about Je Ha. In a world with such shifting alliances, Chief Kim proves herself to be unflinchingly loyal and genuinely concerned and protective over Madam. It’s truly refreshing and something that has been consistently built up throughout the series. One has to wonder what the backstory between them is and why Chief Kim is so loyal to Madam, but as we already know, the writer is not keen on going deep or back, so we’ll just have to be content with what we have.
Back to Yoo Jin, I also appreciated the interaction between her and Jeha at the end of the episode. Song Yoon-ah, on the other hand, truly excels as we see her crumble even further when she realises that Jeha did not steal the thumb drive for her but to turn on her. When she realises that, she mentions that she thought he was her “friend” and this continues builds on what we’ve seen in her scene with Anna about her desire for some genuine human connection and possibly even love. Given that she had earlier said that love was a privilege both her and Jeha could not afford, it was heartbreaking to hear her say that she thought Je Ha was her “friend”. She’s so broken that she doesn’t even bother to get Jeha to tell her where the thumbdrive is. I certainly won’t go as far to say that she loves him (is she even capable of that?) but as the only person who has ever watched out for her and saved her, he certainly has a special place in her heart. Jeha might be right in saying that she wanted to coddle him like another slave of hers, but from what we’ve seen, we know that there’s more than that.
In terms of performances, we know Ji Chang Wook is capable of so much more after seeing Healer, but unfortunately his performances in The K2 are all so straightforward, either displaying strong-willed resolve with most other characters, or vulnerability and tenderness with Anna. I really hoped he had more opportunity to display his acting prowess, just as he did in Healer. He was also partly disadvantaged by a weak script in the first place, which really did not provide much backstory to him with little insight into his past, his motivations and what makes him tick.
Right now for me, the only way for the series to end satisfactorily is to bring the Jeha and Yoojin storyline to a meaningful resolution. As we enter the last two episodes, this will be the focus of my reviews and unless the show makes serious narrative missteps, I’ll not be highlighting those. In light of that, I’m keen to see what happens next when Sung-won enters Cloud 9.