Highlights: “Liar Game,” Episode 9
So good. So, so good! I haven’t gotten tired of saying it yet and you’re probably already tired of hearing it, but “Liar Game” just gets more and more amazing with every episode. The intensity, suspense, and thrill completely rocks my world every Monday and Tuesday night. I’m absolutely dreading the countdown to the final episode next week, so in the meantime, I’m going to savor every moment I possibly can out of this gem.
In this episode, the Smuggling Game begins and Ha Woo Jin is content in taking the backseat, allowing Nam Da Jung and Jo Dal Goo to lead their team. Although it was nice to see them taking the reins for once, I missed seeing Ha Woo Jin in control and directing the flow with success. I doubt the loss in the coin toss game has sent him running to nurse his wounds or having him second guess his own abilities, but I think he’s definitely taking a step back to figure out Kang Do Young‘s game, especially after what he uncovered in the last episode. Luckily for us, and his team, Ha Woo Jin doesn’t sit back for long and proves, once again, that he is an absolute genius.
Let’s take a look at five scenes that made episode 9 so heart racing, seat gripping, holding my breath until I’m about to pass out good:
1. Working with frenemies.
They aren’t quite enemies, but they sure aren’t friends either. Kang Do Young unexpectedly switches out Jamie for Sung Joon in his team. This is actually quite brilliant for several reasons. By placing Jamie in Ha Woo Jin’s team, he’s trying to create distrust amongst the team members. If others, like Jo Dal Goo, can’t trust Jamie, then disagreements and arguments are sure to arise. If they can’t work together, the chances of success are low. By taking Sung Joon for himself, that means Ha Woo Jin has one less ally to help him. I can’t help but wonder if Kang Do Young is really so amazingly observant that he managed to figure out Ha Woo Jin would place his trust in Sung Joon’s loyalty and hacking abilities, especially since Kang Do Young made it a point to suddenly mention those abilities.
2. West Nation is stumped speechless.
The West Nation, comprising of Ha Woo Jin, Nam Da Jung, Jo Dal Goo, and Jamie, are completely stupefied when their attempts to smuggle (or not smuggle, as the case may be), is halted each time with exact precision by the East Nation, which is Kang Do Young’s team of Bulldog, Goo In Gi, and Sung Joon. As they go back and forth, the West Nation is clearly at a loss, even when it’s their turn inspecting. Nam Da Jung and Jo Dal Goo is panicking, Jamie is ranting and frustrated beyond belief, and Ha Woo Jin is completely, utterly perplexed. It seems like an easy win for the East Nation since even our genius can’t figure it out. That is, until…
3. Jo Dal Goo comes to the rescue.
Be it luck or pure skills, Jo Dal Goo is on a roll as the West Nation’s inspector. As always, his sense of humor makes me crack a smile or burst out in uncontrollable laughter, but who could keep a straight face when he’s acting like a crazy person and scaring the wits out of poor Sung Joon and showing Bulldog who’s boss? But here’s the real kicker: at first glance, it appears as if Ha Woo Jin is looking at Jo Dal Goo’s string of success with pride or his neutral expression of joy. If you take a second look; however, it seems more like… suspicion? Ha Woo Jin seems to be sifting those puzzle pieces together. Will he be able to finish that puzzle in time to win the Smuggling Game?
4. Nam Da Jung gets fierce!
Kang Do Young finally pushes her buttons and, goodness, I never knew Nam Da Jung had that side of her! In that moment, I honestly thought she was the vicious dog protecting her owner, Ha Woo Jin, instead of the other way around! At the same time, I found it ironic that the one thing that sets her off, the one thing she finally believes is deceit, is actually the complete truth. I can’t wait to see how she handles that can of worms when Ha Woo Jin pops it open himself, which is bound to happen sooner or later. I think Kang Do Young was expecting her to have a meltdown after naively believing his words, but, instead, she became unpredictable in more ways than one. That look on her face was so angry and stony, it was thrilling to see. Nam Da Jung has finally grown up! I especially loved how she immediately jumped into action to reveal his true intentions to his team members. I bet Kang Do Young didn’t expect that either! The look of shock on his face and knowing it was Nam Da Jung who put it there was absolutely priceless! This was definitely my favorite scene in this episode. Again, so, so good!
5. Jo Dal Goo’s true betrayal?
I said “true” this time because I remember thinking, back in episode 4, that he had betrayed Nam Da Jung, but that wasn’t necessarily the case, as I highlighted in my episode 5 article. This time; however, we’re left to wonder if he had finally snapped and turned his back on both Ha Woo Jin and Nam Da Jung. I thought it suspicious that Kang Do Young could pinpoint the exact amount their team was smuggling each time or if their briefcase was empty. He’s manipulative and calculative, but he’s no psychic.
I wondered if, perhaps, their room was bugged or if Jamie was somehow passing the information along, but I immediately tossed that latter theory aside. Jamie is no fool either – she wouldn’t help Kang Do Young without knowing something was in it for her and with the way he kept tossing her aside, she would doubt him to the end of the world and back before risking her own neck for him again. I never once suspected Jo Dal Goo because he’s been the ever loyal ahjussi and I’ve really come to love him.
Even here, I felt that Ha Woo Jin took the betrayal particularly hard, if his grim, pissed off expression was any indication of that. He looked at Jo Dal Goo in the way he looks at Kang Do Young – like scum. Here’s to hoping that it’s a misunderstanding of some sort, but I suppose this was the entire point of Liar Game, proving that people will do anything to anyone for a large sum of money.
Despite many of the opinions I’ve seen about how this adaptation is sorely lacking compared to the original Japanese version, I’m finding this to be such an enjoyable ride. I have not seen the original, so I can’t make any comparisons, but I’m grateful for that because I can enjoy this in its entirety. One of the reasons cited for the lack of love when it comes to this remake of “Liar Game” is that there is too much investment in character background and creating a story for them, but that’s actually part of what makes me love this. The game itself is perfection, but the background stories are nicely planned as well. The mention of the Walden Two project sent shivers down my spine and gave the plot a nice twist, but it was one of the aspects that many others, particularly those who are a loyal fan of the original, didn’t like.
One thing I wanted to pinpoint was the flash drive that Sung Joon subtly passes into Ha Woo Jin’s hand after they are forced to be on separate teams. Sung Joon is obviously valuable and we see how because when Ha Woo Jin’s reporter friend, Koo Ja Young, came up empty-handed, he actually managed to find something of use. The question remains though, what exactly did Sung Joon find out about Kang Do Young and how did that affect his opinion about our host turned participant? Was Sung Joon’s constant distrust and suspicion of him during the Smuggling Game a result of his findings or is there something more that hasn’t been revealed yet?
Whatever he found though, it obviously changes Kang Do Young’s game, because we finally see him completely losing his cool in the episode 10 preview when Ha Woo Jin smugly mentions something about his childhood. The suspense is killing me! (And so is the possibility that they’ll be going head to head again, because while it’s good and entertaining to see Ha Woo Jin struggling to keep up, much less get a step ahead, I can’t help but feel for my new love when he’s taken aback, semi-lost, and confused instead of smoldering, haughty, and confident.)
As we wait for episode 10 in all its subbed glory, tell me… are you enjoying “Liar Game” as much as I am? What did you think about this episode and did you find Kang Do Young’s facial expression practice as utterly creepy as I did? Let us know in the comments below!