Liar Game (tvN): Episode 3 Recap

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It’s the Minority Game Part 1 now! Woohoo! I’m excited because this could mean the introduction of the “Fujisawa” character, one that is annoying and greatly despised by me. While outrageous in the Japanese drama, I am very curious as to whether he appears in this Korean drama and how he will be portrayed. Also, I really liked this game.

Da Jung’s courageous action saves Teacher Hyun but pisses off Woo Jin. He can tell this is exactly what Do Young was going for, but he won’t bite at the taunts of finding his mother’s true killer.

The crew tries to do a post-mortem interview with Da Jung but she’s too tired to answer any of their questions. Funnily enough Yoon Joo is actually concerned for Da Jung, knowing that she wants to quit the game. However if she gave her $250K to Teacher Hyun and the other half to Woo Jin, she won’t be able to forfeit the next round or pay off her father’s debt. Taking some pity on her, Yoon Joo promises to try to get her in touch with her father. After all, once the episode airs tonight he might see her. Though she’s sorry about not keeping the money, Da Jung hopes that her father will think she made the right decision.

The episode airs and everyone – including Woo Jin’s old cellmates – are watching. They’re shocked to discover her new savior is Woo Jin, and that he has an odd tactic of saving her. But the bigger shock is when she gives her money to pay off Teacher Hyun’s debt. Because the show is aired on every screen in the country, it’s only time before Nam Hyun Shik (Uhm Hyo Sup), now a ragged homeless beggar, sees his daughter onscreen.

Dal Goo is equally depressed that Da Jung gave her money away, even though she is able to pay off the interest with just the appearance fees she’s made off the show. As the two eat and drink at a pojangmacha, he bemoans the fact that she won’t be able to pay off her forfeit penalty. Had she done so, Woo Jin would have paid off her debt! He falls asleep at the table, and that’s when she spies Woo Jin watching her from the corner of her eye, very displeased.

Woo Jin is not happy that she broke the promise she made him, which was to leave the game after the first round. He won’t hear her excuses, though Da Jung tells him anyways. She felt that Teacher Hyun’s situation was much too like her own’s, and if he had to sign the contract he would never see his family again just like her father would never see her again. She thought Woo Jin could read people, so if he could wouldn’t he have seen how much pain and torment debt brings upon the family?

Woo Jin knows all too well but he does not dignify her question with an answer. Instead, he calls her even more stupid than he could have imagined and walks off. Her kind-heartedness is too much for him to bear.

Meanwhile, Reporter Goo Ja Young thinks that the timely appearance of Teacher Hyun’s creditors is a set up. She also thinks that Woo Jin joining the show can’t just be a coincidence and feels that something underhanded is going on with Liar Game. Her boss doesn’t care what she writes about, as long as she has a catchy headline to boost their sales and hits.

Ja Young calls up Woo Jin to meet, which is easier for her considering she is his former classmate. He’s surprised to see that she no longer works for one of the major newspapers, but instead for a smaller one that focuses mostly on gossip. In any case, she wants dirt on Liar Game, and in exchange hands over a binder full of information. I’m guessing it’s newspaper clippings about the company behind his mother’s death. It turns out Woo Jin’s mother ran a non-profit foundation but was scammed, and thus committed suicide. The CEO of that scamming company was murdered soon after, and Woo Jin was arrested for his murder but cleared.

Woo Jin explains to Ja Young that they’re currently standing on the rooftop where his mother died. This is the place where he will begin his search for his real enemy, the person who destroyed his life and killed his mother.

The following day the press is having a field day interviewing would-be contestants who backed out before the game even started. Yoon Joo worries that many will decide to forfeit in the middle of the game instead of continuing on to the end, choosing to be happy with a smaller amount but safe from the game. But Do Young believes that there will be others who are more greedy so they don’t have to worry about the show ending prematurely. Instead, they have to worry about the negative blowback they’re receiving for filming the creditors’ attack on Teacher Hyun.

Director Jang is particularly displeased with Yoon Joo using such an extreme scene just to get ratings. Would she even film murder just to get even more ratings? Higher ups want him to do something about it, and so he can either cancel the show or change the PD. Do Young puts a stop to that before Yoon Joo can get replaced.

Everyone acknowledges the fact that Da Jung was their main star for the first round, but without Woo Jin around they won’t have a star for the second round. Do Young is quite sure that Woo Jin will return though, but Director Jang wants to put his own person in the show. Though it’s a reality show, it must be controlled in some way. They can’t have a criminal win the $10 million, nor can they have the ridiculously naive Da Jung get it. Instead Director Jang wants his man to win – someone who has some brains and could believably win the game, and thus be the new star for the show.

Yoon Joo protests because this goes against the idea of a reality show, but Do Young agrees to Director Jang’s terms. However he’ll give Director Jang’s person the image of someone who’s completely untouchable, making him greater than he really is. So who is this person? We’ll have to wait to find out.

Do Young and Yoon Joo go out for drinks, having both saved their jobs and the show despite acquiescing to Director Jang’s condition. She wonders what Do Young’s motive is for creating this show. He finds the show as an interesting Colosseum for the modern times. Just like how the Roman Empire eventually came to a ruin, he hopes that Yoon Joo can continue to film the show until JVN falls.

Da Jung receives a call that the second round is about to begin. They all assemble at the studio precisely at 2pm for the shooting, and Do Young resumes his duties as host. He introduces the 22 final competitors that made it through from the first round – some were winners of round 1, some were people who paid the fee to join in after helping the original contestant. Mr. Smartypants raises his hand: if there are 22 contestants, why are only 21 onstage?

Cue the lights and Woo Jin is dramatically introduced as the final contestant. He is the new star of round 2, in which every contestant has a chance of winning $2 million. Da Jung is surprised but somewhat glad to see Woo Jin with her. However he reminds her that they are now enemies, as it’s each person for themselves.

The contestants are all escorted onto a private bus that takes them to their next location: a Congressional Hall. Da Jung is seated next to Oh Jung Ah, an oddball of a girl with glasses. Jung Ah reveals that she had a few strategies to win the first round, and she ended up forcing her opponent to use physical force. Since physical force against one another is not allowed in the game, her opponent was disqualified and she won. She also gives a bit of gossip to Da Jung: apparently amongst them there is a Betrayer X, someone who was a helper in the first round and then tricked everyone – including the person he was helping – to gain a spot in the game. Who could it be? Well, Mr. Shades looks quite suspicious.

Everyone checks in at the location showing their ID and trading their smartphones with new ones preprogrammed with the participants’ information. They won’t be able to check the internet or communicate with the outside world though. The contestants all settle in to their seats and from the studio stage Do Young explains the rules for this round.

It is called the Minority Game, and with animations, Do Young explains the rules: one contestant will be selected to pose a yes or no question to everyone. They will then have an allotted amount of time to think about their votes and pick yes or no. At the designated time, they will then all put in a card with either yes or no in the ballot box. The result with the minority number wins. Everyone who voted in the majority is eliminated. The game continues until there is one winner. If there are two people left, then the last two will split the prize.

The animation explaining the game features Da Jung and Woo Jin winning the round, which I find quite funny. It’s also totally baiting the audience since these two are the favorites.

Do Young then gives them a practice round. He poses the question: Are you a woman? Everyone is to vote immediately. Da Jung counts the group and determines that the women are the minority, so if they all vote yes, then they’ll win. The ballots are collected and the results show that ‘yes’ (I am a woman) got 17 votes, and ‘no’ (I am not a woman) got 5 votes. So ‘no’ wins. It’s a rude awakening for Da Jung and many others who now realize how important deception is to the game.

Now it’s time for the real game to begin, and Do Young randomly selects the contestant to pose the question. It goes to Bulldog, a gangster with a flashy tracksuit. He gives everyone a nice long look and then smirks saying, “I have killed a person.” What an interesting start to the game! Do Young gives everyone 2 hours before the voting, and signs off. The contestants are left to fend for themselves.

An awkward silence settles over the room as no one is quite sure what they have to do in the next two hours. Bulldog beelines for Woo Jin to try and befriend him, but Woo Jin has no interest in talking to him. Da Jung and Jung Ah wonder if perhaps they’re to talk to everyone or try to figure out which way people will vote in order to determine how they’ll vote. It ends up being quite difficult though as everyone’s guard is up. Jung Ah thinks that Woo Jin may have a strategy, but Da Jung doesn’t want to ask him for help. After all, he considers them enemies now.

But an hour before voting begins Woo Jin actually approaches Da Jung. Though they may be working against each other now, there are times when enemies must ally to win. Da Jung is super happy – this means they’re no longer enemies right? It’s crazy how simplistic she can be at times. Woo Jin wants her to find six more people from the group that are likely to join a team and remain loyal. He has a plan that could save eight of them as long as one or two reach the final stage. However, because of his reputation no one seems to want to venture near him. Therefore he keeps an eye from afar and signals to Da Jung if the person is worth talking to.

Da Jung spends the next hour going around and saying hi to everyone, judiciously avoiding Bulldog, who notices what she’s doing. With each slight nod or shake of his head, Woo Jin tells her if it’s someone who’s trustworthy. Slowly a team develops, and suddenly Bulldog corners Da Jung in the locker room. Why is she making a team and not including him in it? Bulldog has a tendency to be rougher with others, and so Jung Ah comes to her rescue and pushes him away. She goads him to hit her, because if he does he’ll be gone. Bulldog is more than willing since there are no cameras in the locker room, but just as he grabs her face Woo Jin enters with a cameraman beside him.

Hah. Safe for now, but this Bulldog is someone to watch out for.

The newly formed team meets in the security room, where they can easily watch and keep tabs of other members. We have Oh Jung Ah, an oddball student; Kim Bong Geun, Mr. Smartypants who happens to be a Congressional assistant and seems to know who Betrayer X is; Lawyer Go, a logical and analytical man who knows that a team is best to win this game; Pippi, a spiritual guide/fortune teller who is adept at tricking people; Goo In Gi, a washed up actor and gambler; and Jung, a former director at his company who was fired.

Before they talk strategy, Bong Geun shows everyone a picture of a picture on his old phone that he managed to take of Betrayer X, who is none other than Mr. Shades. He got a picture of him during the last show and through the netizens’ deductions figured out that he was the betrayer. Now they all know to avoid him.

Woo Jin then lays out his plan. As a team of 8, they’re going to divide their votes 4 and 4 for each answer. Whomever sides with the majority vote will be eliminated, but there will still be 4 people on the team left to continue on. Then they’ll split the votes 2 and 2 for each answer. They’ll keep going until they reach the final person to win the game. The stipulation is that the winner must then split the winnings equally with the rest of the team, which means $250K for each person. And since Do Young had mentioned that there would be a reinstatement round for the losers of round 2, those eliminated can just participate there if they want to get back in the game.

Everyone is in on the game, but Jung is fearful – how can he trust any of them to hold up their end of the deal? Lawyer Go volunteers to write a contract for them to all sign. He sneaks out to a workstation and surreptitiously writes out a contract and makes copies for everyone. Wary of being followed, he cautiously heads back to the security room. However Woo Jin spots Bulldog following Lawyer Go from a distance and quickly calls him.

Lawyer Go reaches the security room but is confused as to why it’s locked. It’s only when he picks up his phone that Woo Jin tells him of his tail. Staying calm, Lawyer Go redirects and pretends he’s talking to Liar Game people, and then walks away in search of another room. Bulldog is smarter than that though and thinks there’s something going on in the security room, so he tries to pull it open.

Someone else is trying to keep it closed, but Bulldog is stronger. In Gi falls out and tries to block Bulldog’s view from looking in. He insists that nothing is going on in the room, but Bulldog pushes his way in… to find Jung Ah quickly buttoning up her shirt and no one else around. Hah! They’ve tricked him into thinking that In Gi and Jung Ah are just fooling around, and Bulldog leaves somewhat satisfied at having an answer. Only when he’s gone does everyone emerge from their hiding spots under tables and chairs.

The contract is finally signed, and Liar Game also calls all of them to confirm that they’ve all just signed a contract as a witness of sorts. They divide the votes: Woo Jin, Bong Geun, Jung Ah and Jung will all vote yes. Da Jung, Lawyer Go, Pippi, and In Gi will vote no. Woo Jin also grabs all of their phones and mixes it up, then redistributes it. That way they can’t contact anyone else to keep their secret safe, but will still get important notifications from Liar Game. And then they are all back to interacting with everyone else as if nothing happened.

Voting begins, and the results are 10 to 12, yes to no. That means Woo Jin, Bong Geun, Jung Ah, and Jung are all saved. Bulldog and Mr. Shades also make it through. However, what’s more disconcerting to Woo Jin is that everyone who voted no and are eliminated have no reactions whatsoever. It’s understandable that those who voted yes should be relieved and happy. However those who voted no aren’t causing a ruckus. Instead they look relaxed and seem to have accepted elimination without a problem.

That means, there are other teams that have been made.

Do Young then selects the next person to ask a question on the TV. It’s going to be Mr. Shades, a.k.a Choi Sung Joon. He goes up to the front and asks his question: “I am the notorious Betrayer X.”

Dun dun dun!

Comments:

It’s getting a little tougher now to align the characters in this version to the Japanese drama, which is somewhat a relief because then it keeps me guessing as to who is who. I’m not sure as to who will be the Fujisawa character just yet, but my money is on Jung Ah to being Betrayer X and being more ruthless than she actually appears. I’m also quite excited by the fact that Director Jang of JVN is going to bring in the mysterious character at the end of the game – the “Yokoya” character – to match wits against Woo Jin. We never got to see a lot of what goes behind the scenes of Liar Game in the Japanese version until the end, which helped clear up a lot of things that happened in the beginning. I feel the Japanese drama went for a sense of mystery and then decided to unravel things in the end. On the other hand by seeing how JVN works and how the show is being handled behind the scenes, the Korean drama instead chooses a sense of foreboding to keep us on our toes. We’re anticipating a showdown to occur.

What I hope happens is more interference from the public. Right now everyone acts knowing that they’re in a closed room being watched. However I don’t feel that they are using the public opinion to their advantage just yet. I’m actually hoping that Woo Jin will. The power of the cameras can prevent people from beating each other up, thus keeping everyone on somewhat good behavior. At the same time it could easily be used to sway public opinion and get their involvement. Prior to the first round the show got the audience to vote on who they wanted to see play. That interaction helps keep things unexpected, so I hope more of that happens in this series. It will keep it more interesting rather than unfolding the same events similarly to the Japanese drama.

 

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