My Thoughts — Save Me— Episodes 1-2
A family of four (Father (Im Joo Ho), Mother (Kim Bo Eun), twins son (Im Sang Jin) and daughter (Im Sang Mi (Seo Ye Ji)) moves from Seoul to the country. Unfortunately the Father’s brother has stolen the money for the house, leaving them homeless. The Father finds a job as cattle worker and the family settles into the single room that is provided as room and board.
Unbeknownst to them, their neighbors are a church run by Father Baek Jung Ki (Cho Seong Ha). His faithful leaders are Kang Eun Sil and Jo Wan Tae. There’s definitely something off about this trio and the ministry they run. They spike their followers’ tea with an unknown liquid. Large portions of the church interiors are covered in plastic. There is a special prayer room where some are locked against their will. Curly haired Wan Tae beats a man in a shower when he’s uncooperative.
A foursome of high school boys (Han Sang Hwan (Ok Taecyeon), Seok Dong Cheol (Woo Do Hwan), Woo Jung Hoon (David Lee), and Choi Man Hee (Ha Hwe Jung) love to hang out, ride motorcycles, and don’t mind brawling when needed. Each has their own challenge: Sang Hwan’s mother is in a permanent dazed state in a nursing home and Sang Hwan’s father is running for Governor. Seok Dong’s father is a drunk and hates the sight of him because he looks like his deceased mother. Jung Hoon’s father is a local police officer and always working. Man Hee lives with his older brother, his only family. The foursome help the Im family the first night they arrive in town by calling a tow truck when they find them stranded by the side of the road in the pouring rain. The boys notice Sang Mi.
The cattle ranch owner invites the Im family to his church. They are given a private audience with Father Baek. Faithful Eun Sil and creepy Wan Tae are there too. Sang Mi senses something is wrong but her parents and brother don’t see what she sees. She is stunned silent when Father Baek prays with her and slides his hand up her thigh. She’s stunned again on another visit when Wan Tae almost touches her lips with his when she goes to investigate the scream of those behind a locked door. Father Baek lures the family by offered them an empty house free of charge. Sang Mi doesn’t want her family intwined with Father Baek but her parents accept the free house.
When the twins start school Sang Jin is bullied and beaten because he limps. Sang Hwan and Dong Cheol comes to his aide but Sang Mi refuses further help. She comes to regret those words when Sang Jin is taken to the rooftop and beaten and bullied again. When Sang Mi begs Sang Hwan and Dong Cheol for help, Sang Hwan refuses remembering his father’s plea that he stay out of trouble during the campaign. Dong Cheol goes to help but he’s outnumbered when he fights the attackers. Upset that his life will never be normal because he’s not normal Sang Jin walks to the rooftop’s edge.
Sang Hwan spots Sang Jin and comes running. The fight wanes and Sang Mi sees her twin teetering. She begs him to stop. Sang Hwan burst on the rooftop just as Sang Jin deliberately falls away and plunges to the ground below. Sang Mi implores them “Save Me”.
Dong Cheol is arrested and spends the night in jail. Sang Hwan tries to tell the police what happened but they shoo him away.
As Sang Jin fights for his life in the hospital, his mother imagines she sees him walking down the hallway. She ends up on the hospital’s rooftop walking the ledge and imploring the imagined Sang Jin teetering. Sang Mi and her father pull her to safety the very moment Sang Jin dies.
Grief struck, the family mourns Sang Jin. Father Baek and his flock come to support the broken family. He demands that god tell him why Sang Jin’s prays weren’t answered.
What an intriguing start to this series. Cults are not typical kdrama fare. I recently read a two book series about a cult (Into the Light and Away from the Dark) so when a reader asks me to consider this show, I decided to give it a try. This series is based on a webtoon titled “Out of the World”. Save Me is written by new writer Jung Yi Do who started off in OCN’s open competition. Here’s what I liked.
* The nefarious doings of the Church leaders are not clear. They are expert manipulators preying on the vulnerable desperate for something to become the center of their troubled lives. Father Baek’s blond wig and “kindness” hide his ulterior motives including having sexual designs on Sang Mi. Curly haired Wan Tae creeps me out. What do they put in the tea and drinks they give others?
* The Im family was drawn into the church’s orbit when Father Baek spotted their happy family and wanted them under his power. He asked the farmer to bring the family to church. Initially they were wary but the church won over the parents with the offer of the free house. When they requested the twins help, the parents agreed much to Sang Mi’s chagrin. Desperate for someone to treat him as normal person Sang Jin was more open (and vulnerable) to Father Baek. Sang Mi tried to tell her parents she was uncomfortable but the church’s “kindness” drew the family closer. Now that Sang Jin is dead, the family is broken and even more vulnerable. I’m always curious why people get drawn into a cult. This family’s story is one part bad luck and one part targeting from the church.
* The gang of four friends had a excellent rapport. Sang Hwan (Ok Taecyeon) and Dong Cheol (Woo Do Hwan) are the standouts as the older pair. They noticed Sang Mi. Undoubtedly Sang Hwan will regret his decision not to help Sang Mi due to his father’s request to avoid trouble. I want Dong Cheol to be vindicated but the shadow of his drunken father makes him a troublemaker in the eyes of the law.
Ranking the episodes (on a scale from 1-10) had me rank episode 1 as very good and episode 2 as terrific. My episode ranking chart is below.