My Thoughts — Save Me— Episode 3
Grief struck by suicide of their only son (Im Sang Jin), who was brutally bullied at school, the Im family mourns. Recall previously Mother Im started to lose it at the hospital when she imagined her son on the roof’s ledge and she joined him to be only dragged to safety by her husband. Now Mother Im spirals down further imagining her dead son just outside the door of their home, yelling at her husband and daughter Im Sang Mi (Seo Ye Ji) for failing to keep her son safe. Father and daughter internalize the pain, loss, and anger. For a moment Sang Mi considers suicide herself but creepy curly haired church leader Jo Wan Tae pulls her back from the cliff (literally). Cult leader Father Baek Jung Ki (Cho Seong Ha) directs his faithful leaders Kang Eun Sil, Wan Tae and Jo Wan Duk to support the Im family while he’s out of town. They visit and pray with Father and Daughter. When Father Im learns the high school bullies got out of jail without punishment, he takes his hammer to extract revenge. But the bullies beat him until he collapses while walking away.
Meanwhile Seok Dong Cheol (Woo Do Hwan), who defended Sang Jin when Sang Mi begged for help, but was outnumbered, sits in jail while the bullies are freed. Dong Cheol’s father is an angry drunk and assumptions are made that Dong Cheol is also a lost cause. Finally Dong Cheol is released from jail. Recall Han Sang Hwan (Ok Taecyeon), son of Gubernatorial candidate, turned away from Sang Mi’s plea for help knowing his father did not want him to get into trouble during the election. Sang Hwan tries to apologize to Sang Mi, but she wants nothing to do with him. Sang Hwan apologizes to Dong Cheol, who is more forgiving, knowing that a father’s actions affect the son. In a touching scene Sang Hwan tells Dong Cheol to hold his head high and rise above preconceptions and labels.
But things go from bad to worse for Dong Cheol when he fights once again with the bullies. As he staggers away, the remaining bully shockingly stabs him in the chest with an umbrella screaming at him to die. Fighting for his life, Dong Cheol throws the bully off him. The bully lands on a rock and snaps his spine. Sang Hwan sees the incident and is set to testify on his friend’s behalf. But Sang Hwan’s father knows that the bully’s father is a union leader who will influence many votes. Sang Hwan’s father bribes the local police detective into not requiring Sang Hwan to testify in court to avoid the scandal. Sang Hwan is horrified when his father says that Dong Cheol must be sacrificed so he can win the election. Sang Hwan’s father promises to pardon Dong Cheol after he’s elected. His father sickens Sang Hwan when reporters arrive at his mother’s hospital room for a photo op, showing him caring for his ill wife. Sang Hwan must choose – will he do his father’s bidding and abandon Dong Cheol or will he stand by his friend? On his way to testify for his friend, Sang Hwan finds Father Im collapsed in the road and takes him to the hospital emergency room. Without Sang Hwan’s testimony, Dong Cheol is found guilty and immediately transported in the prison bus. Sang Hwan catches the prison bus on his motorcycle but Dong Cheol refuses to acknowledge him. Desperate, Sang Hwan stop in front of the bus forcing it to come to an abrupt halt. Sang Hwan bangs on the window pleading with Dong Cheol who continues to ignore him. As the guards drag Sang Hwan away he yells at his friend to keep his head high. Both have tears in their eyes in this moving scene.
Sang Mi rushes to her father’s side in the emergency room. Dazedly he apologizes for not being able to keep her or her brother safe. He sags that he could not even get revenge from his son’s torturers. Sang Mi now has two parents sliding in the abyss. Sang Mi begs her father not to fall apart and be strong.
The injustice and manipulation was shocking, and I’m not talking about the cult church but rather those with power. It was maddening to watch the bullies released from prison before good guy Dong Cheol after the bullies’ parents pressured the police chief. It was shocking to watch Dong Cheol be stabbed in the chest by a bully. It was disheartening to watch Sang Hwang manipulated by his father into turning his back on his friend so his father could win the election. It was upsetting to watch Father Im beaten badly by the bullies. My heart broke for Sang Mi as she begged her father not to fall apart.
The Church leaders are biding their time with the wounded Im family. Wan Tae asked the question we’ve all wondered. Why was Father Beak taking an interest in the Im family by giving them free housing and wooing them with the support from the church? Father Baek’s declaration that Sang Mi was a chaste virgin confirmed his sexual designs on Sang Mi.
The Im family disintegrated while trying to deal with the death of Sang Jin. Mother Im further spiraled into her own world where she imagined her dead son just outside the door of their home. Father Im tried to keep it together but was humiliated when the bullies beat him just like they beat his dead son. Even Sang Mi flirted with suicide to escape the pain and truth that her brother was often a burden. My heart went out to Sang Mi as she implored her father to keep it together. If she stands alone, the church could easily prey upon her vulnerability.
Dong Cheol was betrayed by the adults that manipulated the system to send him to jail. Sang Hwan let Dong Cheol down in his hour of need. Sang Hwan struggled with the choice of obeying his father or saving his friend. He made the choice to testify for Dong Cheol but was waylaid when he found that battered Father Im and took him to the hospital. Dong Cheol doesn’t know that Sang Hwan tried to be their for him. Sang Hwan’s desperate attempt to apologize to Dong Cheol got me emotionally. Both friends were emotional though Dong Cheol had to mask his feelings. I’m disappointed Dong Cheol has been sent to prison. I loved this knight with the baggage of an alcoholic troublemaker father. He is as compelling (if not more) and equally good looking as Sang Hwang. The standout scenes were between Sang Hwang and Dong Cheol. Their heartfelt but simply stated support and understanding of their particular burdens from their fathers was touching. The fun flashback of Sang Hwang prodding the spurned Sang Mi to join them during PE to practice spiking the volley ball was like water in a desert. Dong Cheol and Sang Hwang were shocked and destroyed by Sang Mi’s wicked serve again and again. In that single moment of levity, I saw these three characters able to be themselves, without burdens. They were high schoolers having fun. Those days are over for our trio.
Ranking the episodes (on a scale from 1-10) had me rank the episode as terrific. My episode ranking chart is below.