Prison Playbook Episode 8: Sometimes Hard Work Isn’t Enough

Prison Playbook continues to reveal stories within stories, expertly teasing us with pieces of the puzzle that make up each character. This is Kdrama Jen, ready to dive back in and share with you my unfiltered thoughts on Episode 8. Well, some of them had to be filtered because I did actually say some very rude things about Dr. Ko’s company, but…we’ll get to that soon.

The episode begins with a few scenes that help us truly understand Dr. Ko and why he ended up in prison. These scenes had me exclaiming some very not safe for work kind of exclamations! So, the tamest one is…

What the frickety frack? How can they do that to a loyal salary man?

Dr. Ko was a loyal employee, dedicating his life to the company. This did not go unnoticed by his superiors. Because of his loyalty he was the perfect person to ask to take responsibility for the embezzling controversy. Trusting and loyal to a fault, Dr. Ko agreed to take the blame. In exchange, though, the company promised to continue to pay his monthly salary and guaranteed him a job through retirement. I can’t even express my disgust adequately. I am worried that this may not be over. His wife told him that she recently received three times the amount and we learn from the newspaper that the company is under scrutiny again. They can’t possibly expect him to sacrifice again, can they?

Mysterious pain–this seems ominous

Oh, Dr. Ko. You are making me worry. Every time we turn around you are clutching your stomach and writhing in pain. My first thought was appendicitis, but Looney, resident quiz show champion, shares that appendicitis would present in a different way and be on the other side. So, what is up with Dr. Ko? If only he could see an outside doctor, then we would know. Unfortunately, with an upcoming inspection, it appears nobody will be allowed to leave unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Captain Yoo fights back

Captain Yoo is a conundrum. I am convinced he didn’t do what he was accused of doing, but he does still have some anger management issues. He gets into a fight with another prisoner and is punished with a loss of privileges and behavior points. Captain Na even threatens the more severe punishment of “splitting the cell.” The other prisoner is immediately contrite. The idea of having to adjust to a whole new group of cell mates seems to terrify him. Captain Yoo, on the other hand, tells Captain Na to go ahead and do it. Oh, Captain Yoo! I want to like you for some reason, but that is just rude!

All cellmates must write a letter–even you, Yoo!

Dr. Ko clearly needs to be seen by a doctor. His cell mates offer to vouch for him. Captain Na tells them he will agree to allow Dr. Ko to go to an outside hospital if they write letters on his behalf. That’s right; EVERY cellmate must submit a letter. Captain Yoo refuses. Of course he does. Hey, I am trying to see the good in you, Captain Yoo…

Everybody has major league potential!

In the meantime, Je-Hyeok continues to practice pitching. It really seems like he is back in shape, and then his bestie reminds him that the pitcher’s mound is 8 meters further back. When Je-Hyeok pitches from there, he is not quite as accurate. Soon, though, his balls are hitting the target, so Ji-hoon grabs a bat. He hits the first pitch with no problem. Since he used to be a very good player, they call in the rest of the cellmates. One by one they hit the pitches. Even Looney is able to hear his bat hit a major league player’s pitch. Each member of the batting crew is suddenly filled with dreams of being professional baseball stars. In reality, though, Je-Hyeok’s pitches are just not fast. Will this hold him back?

Waiting for a Letter

Dr. Ko keeps asking if a letter arrived for him. He apparently wrote to his superior at the company. He does get a reply later, but…I just can’t… Really? Once again, what the frickety frack?

Kim Min Sung-What could you possibly have done to end up in prison?

It is a heartwarming moment to learn that Kim Min Sung (previously injured in a wood shop accident) is eligible for parole. I instantly liked him, maybe because he was the little brother in While You Were Sleeping. I could not even imagine him doing something against the law. So, I was even more heartbroken when he was DENIED parole! What???

Hey, they are naked while holding dried squid

There is kind of a bromantic moment where Je-Hyeok offers some advice to Captain Yoo. It is very brotherly and all, but I can’t get past the fact that they are just hanging out naked while Je-Hyeok is holding dried squid in his hand. This is not exactly central to the plot, but it certainly caught my attention.

The Demon Captain might not be so bad

Captain Yoo visits Lieutenant Paeng and has the chance to tell his story. After Lieutenant Paeng hilariously separates out the coffee mixture to provide Captain Yoo with an Americano as requested, we learn the real story behind the death of the army recruit. I just can’t go into detail because every scene made me ill to see such hazing and bullying. So, let’s just say there is clearly a military demon, but it is not Captain Yoo. Yes, we saw him kick a few soldiers, but it was nothing compared to the actions of a privileged psycho who happens to be the son of someone important. When his physical bullying goes too far and someone dies, he uses his power and influence to make it look like the kid died as a result of Captain Yoo’s actions. There was a night duty log that showed the young soldier was well enough to sign in, but the page was ripped out and destroyed. How can Captain Yoo fight against such powerful people? No wonder he wants to beat the daylights out of everybody! He hasn’t completely forgotten his humanity, though. He did write the letter for Dr. Ko.

Sometimes hard work isn’t enough—without opportunity

After Kim Min Sung learns he will not be paroled, he ends up in the infirmary. He says he “accidentally” took too much headache medicine. Je-Hyeok stays with him and Min-Sung tells his story. My heart ached to hear about how he fell asleep at the wheel and hit someone who was jaywalking. His boss, who asked him to drive the truck and bring him his wallet, did not have insurance and refused to admit he had asked him to drive the truck. With no financial safety net, Min-Sung could not settle and therefore ended up in prison. He tells Je-Hyeok that if only he had not failed his civil service exam, then he would not have been in that situation. Je-Hyeok agreed that he should have worked harder. If only he had not slept or ate. And then we see how Je-Hyeok made it as a trainee. It wasn’t because he worked harder. He wasn’t even as fast or accurate as some of the others. He happened to be a left-handed pitcher and that is what they wanted. In the end he tells Min-Sung that sometimes it is about having an opportunity that matters more than hard work.

Feeling salty without a date

Joon-ho’s brother sets him up on a blind date. It happens to be at the same restaurant where Je Hyeok’s sister works. Oh, and it turns out the girl really likes the brother and he likes her. So, there is really not much to do but eat dinner with Je-Hyeok’s sister and make up for the lack of salt in the healthy soup by…sucking on his thumb and licking his own wrist. It is such a random kind of thing, but somehow matches Joon-ho’s personality so perfectly.

Flashback to when he started dating Krystal

In the meantime, we get a flashback to when Je-Hyeok started dating Krystal’s character. I must admit. It is not this romance that is keeping me invested in this show. The sister and Joon-Ho possibility is one I am cheering for, but I am just kind of luke-warm about the Je-Hyeok/Krystal thing. I have not been a huge fan of Krystal’s acting in the past, but I actually think she is doing a nice job in this drama. I am just not invested in this romance. Now, this show tends to send me spinning in different directions after each episode, so I very well may change my mind later. In the meantime, this scene gives us a rather awkward car kiss that is kind of quintessential Je-Hyeok!

Brother waits for Lieutenant and learns he sent him the log

The episode ends with Captain Yoo’s brother tirelessly waiting for a possible witness to be discharged from the military. He meets the lieutenant who was on duty the night Private Park died and learns the night duty log he has was sent to him by this man. Oh, Captain Yoo! I hope you appreciate your brother and his perseverance!

This whole episode was all about the contrast between privilege or opportunity and hard work. Dr. Ko was hardworking and diligent, but was not a powerful executive, so he was taken advantage of easily. Je-Hyeok happened to have the advantage of being a left-handed pitcher, so he was automatically given the opportunity to be a trainee over more “talented” pitchers. Min-Sung studied and worked hard, but without the advantage of money and influence, none of that mattered. And finally, Captain Yoo. He tried to do the right thing and take a stand, but in the end the influence and power of a son of a high ranking politician meant more. Honestly, even Je-Hyeok is leveraging his privilege in prison. Of course, he is using his money and fame to help others, but it is still resonating with me that there is a clear power imbalance at play.

Once again, Prison Playbook has captured my complete attention and made me question what I thought I knew and left me with even more questions. Will Dr. Ko really take the fall again? Will Captain Yoo’s brother be able to help him seek justice? Will salt-licking bestie make a move on Je-Hyeok’s sister? These are all the thoughts and questions on my mind right now.

I have just enough time to watch the next episode. So, until the next roll call…

Kdrama Jen

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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