Another shocking episode of Man from the Equator. I guess it’s a good thing I haven’t seen many makjangs, or else all of these outrageous plot twists might not seem so surprising to me. You know, it was only the second episode out of a 20 episode run, so I’m a little worried about whether this drama will be able to keep all of these twists and turns coming. But I’ll worry about that when I get there. Until then, I’ll just focus on how the twisted relationship between Kim Seonu (Lee Hyun Woo) and Lee Jang Il (Im Si Wan) just keeps getting more and more knotted and disturbing.
Now the drama seems to establish the overarching plot which features Seonu trying to uncover the truth about what really happened to his father, Kim Kyung Pil. So far he has found out some interesting things about his mild-mannered father – like, how he had a fraud record from 20 years ago. Wait, Seonu is 20 years old. If he’s shocked by this, how much will it lay him low to discover that his adoptive father had a forger’s hand in leading to the death of his mother? I wonder how much Seonu suspects that he is not his real father, or whether it will come as a blow to him. And now the drama has introduced the real possibility of another father altogether – Moon Tae Ju (Jung Ho Bin), who is currently in Thailand (is he the man from the equator?). It’s comforting to know that Seonu potentially has one strong backer in his corner, since it looks like he’s going to need it.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I gasped when the drama revealed who really killed Kyung Pil – it wasn’t the chairman, but Lee Yong Bae (Lee Won Jung)! It’s scary to see what kinds of things weak-willed people will end up doing, especially in dramas. I guess having the chairman being the actual murderer would have been too tacky, plus this way Seonu and Jang Il are driven even further apart – or is it closer together in a fated relationship? Wow, what an unlikable character Lee Won Jung is playing. Not even his doing it for his son’s advancement (for the chairman would only pay him if he disposed of a dead man) makes him any more sympathetic. It’s terrible to think that Seonu and Jang Il have to pay for their parents’ sins like this, but I guess that’s the point.
An unexpected ally for Seonu came in the form of his wacky shaman friend, Choi Kwang Cheon (Lee Jae Yong), who offered to perform a prayer ceremony for his father (for a small fee of course).
This totally freaked me out, even though in the end it turned out to be completely fake. Or was it? I’m already suspending so much disbelief at this point that I’ll choose to believe that he has some real abilities, however latent they might be. But I do know for sure that Kwang Cheon actually witnessed the murder, but he only really saw the scar on the man’s arm. I don’t like how Kwang Cheon’s not much help, but at least he cares about Seonu. A fake shaman is better than no one, I guess.
He seems to have realized at the end that Yong Bae is the man, but who knows what he’ll do with that information. I’m curious whether his gut reaction to Jang Il is a manifestation of his abilities, or just one of those things everyone feels at some time or other. It’s like he has a sixth sense that this jerk is hurting his daughter.
And Seonu is not without resources of his own. He figured out that the suicide note must have been faked since the formal endings used were different, and the typewriter was different (sloppy, Yong Bae). I don’t see him making a lot of headway with the police, especially after Yong Bae burns the letter (in exchange for fried chicken), but whatever. He can’t solve it too soon, right? More interestingly he sees a picture of his father along with Chairman Jin and Tae Ju, though he doesn’t know who they are yet. How long will Seonu feel his way in the dark like this (that’s foreshadowing a major plot point involving Seonu losing one of his senses)?
And my apologies to Seonu, but he was not as interesting in this episode as Jang Il. It is never fair how the villain or anti-hero is always so much more compelling. It’s the watching-a-train-wreck effect, I guess. This drama really isn’t going easy on him, I think – every good thing that happens to him now, every noble impulse he has, everything will be turned into bitterness and poison once he finds out the truth about what his father did. But you know that if he is really smart, he should figure out what happened on his own – what kind of scholarship gives an “allowance” like that, and doesn’t make you write a lame essay? Will this knowledge break him? We do see him attempting homicide later on, so I’m thinking yeah.
It was so cruel seeing him be so happy as he met his benefactor, the chairman, and thinking that his star was finally on the rise. It was also a little creepy how the chairman’s wife, Ma Hee Jung (Cha Hwa Yun, Thorn Birds), fawned over him for being a pretty boy. If his father had been smart he would have gone through her to get money for school, and he could have avoided the whole killing thing. Doesn’t he think that his son might hate having a murder as the foundation for the glorious success he hopes to achieve? But if he understood that, he wouldn’t be Yong Bae, the man who can still eat a meal with the son of the man he killed.
Of course there is still a little romance in the air, because romance in this situation will only make their lives more tragic. As much as I feel for Jang Il, his unromantic impulses are so awful that I’m simultaneously rooting for him and waiting for him to get his. For he is out with the old shaman’s daughter, and in with the new lady-love his greedy dreams have already selected for him. He actually went to this bizarre assembly for employees of the company her father owns, and was determined to be mesmerized by Han Ji Won (Kyung Soo Jin, New Tales of Gisaeng) as she sang “Moon River” (not as good as smashing a window). He was also later excited to see her again at the chairman’s house, nevermind the fact that she had come with her mother to grovel – wow, insensitive, Jang Il.
He must also think it’s fate that they will be going to the same university too. I entertain no belief that he actually likes her romantically. At most he is enthralled by what she represents to him – wealth, power, and everything nice. He is so calculating that I don’t think he’ll love any woman. Maybe Choi Sumi (Park Se Young), but not even. But the world is probably safer this way. Seonu managed to break through his walls, and look how well that’s turning out for him.
I actually think Sumi deserves him since she’s pretty lame herself for liking him. At least she has the sense to resent the sign in the town that announced that he was going to study law in college. I wonder if the actress will have a happier romance in the upcoming Love Rain, which follows Dream High 2. Ji Won has no clue who Jang Il is, being more preoccupied with helping her father regain his wealth (by studying English in college). And if she does think of any boy, of course it’s Seonu. So it’s too bad that Seonu is too busy being blackmailed by the local gang into becoming their muscle. To be more precise, being blackmailed using his love for Jang Il. So much drama.
From the previews it looks like things are set to get even crazier – blindness is involved. I’m still not sure why Seonu likes Jang Il so much, but since it’s for the sake of maximum drama, it’s ok. For the closer they get, the more painful it gets, till this drama runs the risk of becoming a total downer. But in an entertaining way.