It gets better and better!
(Author’s note: Due to personal commitments, this recap will be updated in two parts – in words and in screencaps. Since I’ve completed the written recap, I thought I might as well share it with whoever needs it, but rest assured that the screencaps will follow within two days!)
Although my recaps have decreased recently, I’ve actually been spending whatever little time I had on catching up with the current dramas. Right now I have my hands full with the Jul-Aug dramas and out of all of them (Reunited Worlds, Falsify, Strongest Delivery Man, Manhole, Criminal Minds), Save Me was the only one that I really wanted to recap! It’s a pity I could only get on the boat at Episode 12, but better late than never right?
I’m very much in love with the characterisation and development of each personality. Heck, even the physical church fascinates me. We always knew this was a cult, but for those who aren’t Christians, surely some aspects do seem rather misleading. Yet the past two episodes have made it quite clear that this is not a church and I appreciate the drama for doing that.
Right off the bat, the episode opens with the church without its symbolic red cross sign. Remember how in Episode 11, they were teaching that the symbol of the boat, which signifies salvation, is more important to the believers than the cross? I’m sure that’s blasphemy indeed!
Sang Mi’s mother literally wakes up from the effects of the drug, but en route to finding Sang Mi, she gets intercepted by Apostle Kang. Apostle Kang’s words are chilling – she notices the drugs have worn off and comments coldly that those drugs will allow Sang Mi’s mother to stay in paradise forever. “I have to make Sang Mi the Spiritual Mother so that my daughter and I can reach paradise.” More on Kang later but she definitely bothers me!
Sang Mi picks up the butterfly clip and through a flashback, we realise that this is what she bought for her mother during her brief escape. She thus knows that her mother has been out in the garden and rushes to the sanitarium, but it is too late – Apostle Kang has already injected her with something called the elephant tranquiliser, i.e something that can knock even an elephant out. Sang Mi’s mother calms down and closes her eyes wearily, even as tears ooze out.
Sang Mi rushes into the room and notices the syringe, but because Kang threatens that they would perform an exorcism on her mother, she has no choice but to kneel and beg for forgiveness. I like this evolved-Sang Mi a lot. Although she still has lots of grit and fire, she’s starting to learn how to use soft techniques in order to protect herself and her mother.
She asks for some time alone with her mother and cries as she tells her to hang in there just a little longer. I’ve read a comment that says that Sang Mi’s mother looks like Sang Hwan’s mother after being tranquilised but I beg to differ!
Guseonwon performs an exorcism for the new intakes today. While the rest of the church goes crazy seeing how Spiritual Father (apparently) chases an evil, spiteful father-in-law spirit away from a weakened believer, Dong Cheol mutters, “They are crazy.” Haha. Initially I thought that the believer was an implanted actor, but the lack of a follow-up scene makes me wonder if she genuinely thought she was possessed?
Some of the new people are impressed with the feat and Apostle Jo smoothly leads them to the main point . One can only meet the Spiritual Father after receiving three weeks of training (because apparently you will lose your eyesight before that since his energy is too strong. What.) Dong Cheol asks the pertinent question – what about the fee? Well, it’s apparently ‘free’ but you have to make an offering of 2,000 dollars.
While the rest proceed to the seminar room for lessons, Dong Cheol escapes via a toilet-excuse into the individual prayer rooms. He recalls So Rin’s words that Sang Mi is in those rooms and creeps there, but gets caught by Spiritual Father. However, Spiritual Father believes that he was simply inquisitive and instead, touches Dong Cheol’s chest. If he keeps neglecting the resentment and hurt in his heart, he would destroy everything around him. He should surrender everything to Almighty instead. Dong Cheol seems to be impacted and asks how he can do that.
In the meantime, the sidekick looks for Sang Hwan and gang, while Detective Lee reports back to Sang Hwan’s father that the protesters are gaining in numbers. Ji Hee advises that he takes up Guseonwon/Baek Jung Gi’s offer and to build a hospital with a sanitarium. While talking, she unbuttons Sang Hwan’s father’s shirt and touches his hands. After she leaves, Sang Hwan’s father maliciously tells the mother that she’s so tenacious, unlike flowers that wither at the end of their lives. The only reason why she’s kept alive is because she’s of use to him. “I’ll come visit you everyday to water you.”
Although this disgusts me, the corrupt father does fascinate me. Save Me is a drama where it isn’t shy in giving doses of villainy, and strangely, I want more. All the love and passion Sang Hwan’s father has shown to the mother is all for a show! It’s also terribly psychotic to know that he carries out an affair right in front of his wife, who has no choice but to watch it happening. That’s screwed up. However, I don’t think that the father has been giving the mother strange injections, which was what some people theorised after seeing Sang Mi’s mother! For one, Sang Mi’s mother became calm but she could flutter her eyelids. She couldn’t talk but she just seemed relaxed and sad. On the other hand, Sang Hwan’s mother was always uptight and tried to express things through her eyes. She wasn’t sleepy; she was alert. The eyes seemed very different to me.
In fact, my theory is that the mother is going to play a key role in revealing the corruption. Remember how her hands twitch in the previous episode and how Sang Hwan records messages for her? I think one of these days (or maybe it has happened already!), she’s going to record all these incriminating conversations. Of course this is just my theory and I hope it doesn’t become a spoiler…
Anyway enough of my rambling and back to the recap.
So Rin sneaks into Sang Mi’s room and learns about the injection. She also informs Sang Mi of her suspicion that Guseonwon has been giving her mother and other patients illegal medication. If they can prove that, then they can subject Guseonwon to legal punishment. At Sang Mi’s request, So Rin seeks Dong Cheol’s help and tells him to look for a container with a milk-like liquid. Despite successfully locating the medication room, Dong Cheol does not manage to find the medicine and has to leave. Before he steps into the van, Sang Mi and So Rin walk past in the distance (on the pretext of a walk) and he subtly shakes his head. I love this cryptic system within the 3 of them!
At this point in time, I’m not very sure how all the gangsters’ dynamics are going to be relevant, but we see how the other gangster tries to convince Cha Joon Go to become allies and split the money they earn from doing the politicians’ work. Cha rejects the offer and replies scarily that the only reason why the other gangster hasn’t died is because he wants to keep him on his toes. Start going to church, “So that you will at least go to heaven when you die.”
At night, Dong Cheol updates Sang Hwan on his day in Guseonwon. He has met many monsters in prison, but none like Baek Jung Ki. He couldn’t move when Baek touched him. Sang Hwan similarly notes that Baek was beyond insane judging by his actions. Dong Cheol realises that he wasn’t the only one in prison these three years; Sang Mi has been locked up. “The same goes for you as well.” He smiles and tells Sang Hwan that it’s time for Sang Hwan and Sang Mi to get out as well.
In the early morning, Kang brings Sang Mi and So Rin to a dilapidated hut. Apparently as pure virgins, they are supposed to pray earnestly in preparation for the arrival of the Almighty. Sang Mi clutches her hands together and says fervently a few times, “Our wishes will be fulfilled. I believe it.” However when Kang looks away, Sang Mi’s eyes turn cold again.
A hiker finds the body of Kim Hae Eun, who was the granddaughter reported as missing a few episodes back. Lee is placed on the case and notes that the forest is at the back of Guseonwon. He recalls Sang Mi’s police incident and decides to visit the church.
During lunch, Dong Cheol gets curious about the Living Water that the believers are sprinkling into their food. It cures all terminal illnesses, but only if you believe in it. Well…then that’s not very powerful is it? It just sounds like placebo effect to me. Anyway, he then asks about the different coloured-caps on each bottle and finds out that the gold cap is water from the Spiritual Father’s face i.e water he uses to wash his face…and the silver cap means that it’s from his feet….HAHAHA YOU READ THAT RIGHT. HIS FEET. OH MY. Dong Cheol’s face is gold.
Lee updates the three villains that there’s no use pressing charges against Sang Hwan, Jung Hoon and Man Hee. Sang Mi has already stated that she went willingly with them, so it can’t be an abduction. In addition, they were also assaulted. Most importantly, she stated that she was locked up. Kang bristles at this term and states that he’s insulting their religion. Lee apologises dismissively and asks to meet the pastor, but is bewildered when an irked Kang enlightens him that it’s called the Spiritual Father here, not “pastor”.
Just when tension builds up after Apostle Jo calls Lee a “lowlife” who can’t demand for meetings with the Spiritual Father, the Spiritual Father turns up. Lee asks the pertinent question of whether the “spiritual wedding” would involve sexual relations. The other apostles disgustingly avoid the question by saying that he doesn’t understand from his point of view. In other words, I guess the answer is yes! Sang Mi’s father is indignant, “What father will force his daughter to have sexual relations?” Erm…you? I love Lee’s reply, “Right? No parents in their right mind would do such a thing.” Which insinuates that Sang Mi’s father isn’t in the right mind hahaha.
He gets quite impatient and asks about the sexual relation question again, but his questioning comes to a stop when Sang Mi is summoned to the office. He’s taken aback when Sang Mi suddenly changes her tone and claims that she was never locked up. In fact, she’s suffering from depression and she wasn’t quite herself at the station that day.
Baek conveniently leaves for his afternoon service, such that Lee doesn’t have a chance to ask about Kim Hae Eun. Apostle Jo passive-aggressively notes that Lee is going over the line and that everyone has the right to freedom of religion, which causes Lee to chuckle. “You said exactly what I was expecting to hear. I was wondering when you’d bring it up, and you finally did. Freedom of religion.”
I know Lee hasn’t been the most upright person in this drama but I don’t think he’s as straightforward as that. This is another character that I find so three-dimensional and grey. I think he works for money (he could be a possible undercover, who knows) and power but at the same time, he doesn’t bow down to coercion i.e he does whatever he wants. He wants money? Sure he will tweak things a little. He is curious about Guseonwon? Then nobody stops him from his sassy and pertinent questions. As can be seen, he cuts through the pretense and facade of the apostles and no matter what they say, their preaching goes right over him.
I also thought that the “freedom of religion” thing was quite meaningful, although mentioned in passing. I feel that it was intentional and meant to be thought-provoking, as is other “freedom of speech” debates. How far can we take this freedom of religion? When does it end at truly following a religious doctrine and start at using religion as an excuse to commit crimes/sins? What if the group of followers genuinely believe in their religion? Who are you to say that their religion is wrong and yours is right? I love how the drama throws a nod to this tricky issue with just a sarcastic laugh from the detective.
Although I do like the drama lot, I’m in doubt that Jung Woon actually successfully uploads the video of Baek Jung Ki (going crazy) in the prayer room and not get caught for it. In fact, someone even notices the cross on the wall and posts a photo of a girl with a similar cross! The guys notice the poster in the background and wonder if the photo was taken in Daegu. Okay…but do you really want me to believe that it hasn’t caught the attention of any media yet? Maybe this will blow up in the future episodes!
Apostle Jo wants Lee to pass along a message to the guys if he sees them again – tell them that he would like to meet them again. Lee sees from his rear view mirror the arrival of Sang Hwan’s father and Ji Hee and wonders what they are up to. In a quick flashback, we see that Lee has also found out that Kim Hae Eun quarrelled with her grandmother because she wanted $2000 to go to paradise. When her grandmother refused, she called her a devil and ran away.
Intrigued by the whole thing, the detective rushes out of the station. Meanwhile, the new intakes go through the seminar and they are asked to answer a questionnaire. They can only get onto the Boat of Salvation if they reply convincingly with a Yes to all the questions. Dong Cheol gets picked on to answer the questions and he funnily replies no to all the questions, whether it is about the belief in Almighty or the Boat of Salvation.
Apostle Kang is a little worked up and tells So Rin to play a video showing the difference between the fiery pits and paradise. Sang Mi sneaks into Kang’s room, using a card trick that So Rin taught her previously. At the same time, Kang takes a break and returns to her room…but thankfully, Sang Mi has already hidden in the closet! Kang leaves quickly after taking some pills and Sang Mi quickly rummages through the items in the room, before finding her phone. She also leaves with the bottle of pills.
The politicians gather in Baek’s room to talk about a proposal, while Baek looks pleased.
The guys find their deliveryman friends (rather strong Strongest Deliveryman vibes here) and after a bout of deduction and being knocked on the heads by the bar owner, the friends conclude that the deliveryman in the photo of the cross must be Cheetah.
Sang Mi meets the Spiritual Father alone in the church and as his hands creep dangerously on her shoulders, her eyes widen and she demands for the real reason why she’s doing this to her. She knows that he knows that she’s just doing this to protect her mother; she’s not being sincere, so why?
Spiritual Father sighs and reminisces about a pretty pure soul in the past, “But I guess I was too impatient. Fruit has to ripen to taste sweeter and more delicious.” The girl jumped to her death from the rooftop, which saddened him. This is why when he saw her, he thought, “I must not fail,” and we have a quick flashback to Sang Mi three years ago when she laughed with her family.
Sang Mi stumbles backwards in shock that he’s doing this to her because she looks like the woman he killed, but he smiles that she has nowhere to run. He knocks her to the ground and reaches for her skirt.
I think they are trying to make us think that he’s going to rape her, but the vibe didn’t really feel like it was going that way. Sure, the hands on shoulder were grimy, but surprisingly the pinning of Sang Mi onto the floor was more dangerous than anything. Some people have hypothesised that Sang Mi kept her phone up her skirt and he knew that!
I have so much to say about each character, but I think I shall leave it like this for now. I’ve only touched on Detective Lee and Sang Hwan’s father today, but I haven’t talked about Apostle Kang, Sang Mi, Sang Hwan and Dong Cheol yet!