Welcome back Deprogrammers! How are you handling three years spent in a cult? It hasn’t been easy, has it. Well, you’re in luck! Join Kate, Young Ajummah and me, Marakeshsparrow, as we commiserate over Save Me and try to figure out how anyone can set themselves free from Guseonwon and its brainwashed followers.

Kate: Can you believe how much torturous tragedy our characters had to suffer through this week? I will say, called the time jump, though I thought it would be almost near the end of episode four rather than where it was.

Ajummah: You did Kate! I was completely thrown off. I thought we started in current day. I must have missed when they said flashback. I don’t know how much more I can take of all this sadness and horror. Sang Mi is one tough cookie. I think I would have run away by this point but she hasn’t...yet. Can you imagine doing 3 years in that place? With all those creepy people?

And Dong Chul...he stood up for what was right and got the short end of the stick. Sent to juvie for 3 years for something he didn’t cause. I’m a bit worried how he will be when he gets out but I am still Team Dong Chul.

Marakeshsparrow: //shakes head// Oh dear. These episodes (especially episode 3) were almost too much for me to bear. The injustice!!! I am 100% team Dong Chul and it has been killing me how no one is able to stand up for him, how no one is willing to speak up and talk about what really happened on that roof top. And now he’s off to juvie? UGH. It may sound heartless, but I’m GLAD that bully broke his spine. If anyone deserved it, he did.

Kate: Well, Dong Chul did assault the bully to start. But it was the bully who instigated the next part of the fight, the one that ended in his serious spinal injury. Dong Chul’s heart was in the right place when he tried to protect Sang Mi and Sang Jin on the roof by fighting, but it was a pretty bad idea to seek that bully out later. With Dong Chul’s no-name dad and the bully’s union leader dad, nothing good could really come from that fight. In the end, it just made things so much worse for everyone. I do not look forward to the inevitable Dong Chul, Sang Mi, and Sang Hwan triangle. Nothing good can come of that, either, especially as Dong Chul and Sang Hwan already have so much to repair in their relationship, and Sang Mi has a lot more going on in her life to worry about than a love triangle complicating her attempt at escape from the evil cult.

Ajummah: TEAM DONG CHUL!!!! Lol, sorry but I had to get that out. I do love a bad boy with a good heart. I’m very disappointed in Sang Hwan. He said he would do what he could to help Dong Chul and he didn’t. Then his father said as soon as he became governor, he’d would get him out and he didn’t. So that reunion is REALLY going to be awkward. I expect blood to fly. Hopefully, they’ll be able to work through their problems though, because Sang Mi is REALLY going to need help. I wonder, did she cause the car wreck? Did she stab the driver or go after Jo Wan Tae? I think I would have stabbed him. He’s horrid! Trying to rape someone and then beating a child to cover it up? Unbelievable.

Marakeshsparrow: Don’t even get me STARTED on that creep. He upped his creeper levels to 11 with that attempted sexual assault and then hurting the little boy. And I have a feeling that this is something he’s done before (as in, he’s probably made it a habit of molesting and raping members of their congregation). What I want to know is how much of this does “Father” know about? Does he just have an idea of what’s going on and figures “as long as you don’t flaunt it” or is he doing things like this right alongside Jo Wan Tae? I’m not sure how deep it all goes, but I know he’s not completely innocent. As for the way episode 4 ended: OMG!!!!!!

Kate: I’m not sure WHAT to make of that cliffhanger ending. It would seem more dramatically satisfying to attack Wan Tae, but he wasn’t driving AND I think we’ve built up his villainy too much to dispatch of him this early in the series. My bet is that she attacked the driver, which spun the car out of control. Heaven knows what she’ll be able to manage next. Hopefully, she and the little guy aren’t too hurt. I think the biggest betrayal, though, was Sang Mi’s father slapping her. Wan Tae has been portrayed as a mustache-twirling villain from the very beginning, but Sang Mi’s father was so bent and bowed by his own personal tragedy that he has trusted in an evil cult that was drooling over his daughter and now keeps his wife drugged and out of the way. I further my statement from last week, the adults of Muji are not useful. Kids, don’t trust anyone over thirty in Muji: save yourselves!

Ajummah: I think it's that “water” everyone is drinking that’s causing people to go crazy. How else could Sang Mi’s father see a spider building a cross in the middle of its web? It wasn’t really there, just in case anyone missed that part. Her father is so desperately wanting some help, some guidance from the disparity of his life, that I believe he would have believed anything anyone would have told him at that moment. Add that to the fact that a pretty woman cooked him food, prayed with him and said he was a good man...yes he was sold.

Marakeshsparrow: Yeah, I thought he was just so broken and desperate for any sort of light at the end of the tunnel that he finally snapped and turned towards their church. HOWEVER, I did have a thought--what if there’s something in that water. What if they lace it with hallucinogens or something? That would certainly be a helpful tactic when trying to recruit new cult members and wouldn’t be the first time that technique has been used IRL.

Kate: Mr. Im’s conscience probably needed some relief, too, since he felt so much guilt and shame for all of the mistakes, missteps, and inattention that helped contribute to his family’s situation, and thus the death of Sang Jin and the illness of Mrs. Im. Poor woman. I wonder how much of her illness would have faded with time and care that it seems she was not getting at the compound?

And that living water brings up another question I’ve been wondering about since last week. I wonder if the series intends to flirt with elements of the supernatural. Remember last week the Father said to some believers that demons could appear to you as your friends and family to try and lead you astray? And then Mrs. Im almost jumped off a roof too, chasing Sang Jin, who she continues to see (it appears). The living water could fall under this too, I guess. Is there something chemical that is changing the state of mind of the people who ingest it? Is it just the power of suggestion and belief? Or are some supernatural elements involved with the water?

Marakeshsparrow: I kind of hope they don’t delve too deeply into the supernatural. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good supernatural thriller, but I think it would have more impact if they stayed in the realm of the mortal. That would really highlight how this cult-ish religion is all a bunch of malarky. If there’s some actual supernatural stuff going on (like an actual evil spirit following Sang Mi’s mom) it would almost validate the things that Father says.

Ajummah: I wonder, did Mrs. Im have a psychotic break? Remember when Sang Mi told her father look what happened to mom? She really has gone crazy! Drawing on walls, the nonsensical talk. And what are those pills she’s taking? I also wonder what Mrs. Kang’s role is in this whole crazy place. She’s not the Father’s wife but she is a Mrs. and she seems jealous of Sang Mi.

It seems like their survival rests on whether or not Sang Mi stays a virgin (EWW). So you would think everyone would treat her nicely but she and of course the lecherous Wan Tae could do something drastic at any second.

Kate: I know, Ajummah! It seems that Father’s protection will only last as long as she is a virgin, though I guess squeezing her thigh during prayer won’t sully her purity. Since Wan Tae knows this, I bet it is the only thing that has been keeping Sang Mi out of the sexual assault shed. But Wan Tae seems to have limited impulse control, and I don’t think it would be unimaginable that he might try something at any time. Instead of protecting Sang Mi from this, Mrs. Kang seems like she’d rather have Father’s attention. Did either of you make much of the conversation between Father and Wan Tae? In the same one when he said they would need this virgin to lead them to paradise, it seemed that he said that he and Wan Tae had been criminals and reformed by God. Or did I read that wrong?

Ajummah: I didn’t realize that he meant himself, I thought he just meant Wan Tae which I could totally see. Speaking of criminals, Dong Chul got jumped by some of the other convicts. One of them told him that he had been sent to rip him to shreds, which caused Dong Chul to flip out and open up a can of whoop...well you get the point. I’m curious as to who sent those guys to try to take out Dong Chul. And he had been in a lot of knife fights in those 3 years. Any ideas?

Marakeshsparrow: Can I just say, that scene made me raise an eyebrow. If Dong Chul was capable of kicking serious A**, why didn’t he do it to begin with? He just let himself get sucker punched in the stomach over and over (which also could cause serious internal damage--Harry Houdini was killed by a punch to the stomach and he took punches professionally as a part of his act). But then suddenly he goes all street fighter and takes them all out with ease. Come on! Just something that kind of bothered me. /rant over

Kate: The dad of the bully seemed to have some pull, that was my best bet for who put the “hit” on Dong Chul. I mean, that guy was ready to beat up the doctor who told him that his son would be paralyzed because of his spinal injury, and he had just saved his son’s life in the operating room. But who knows? There must be some dark horse out there we haven’t figured on yet.

What do you think of Sang Hwan and his friends three years later? Did he or they surprise you at all, or were they as expected?

Ajummah: Sad to say I expected them to be just as they were. I didn’t really think Sang Hwan was going to stay in the town after all those broken promises he made. His friends...they seem like they are content in staying there their whole life. When Dong Chul comes back, I wonder if their friendship will become strained. The two friends seemed like they went to visit Dong Chul often but not Sang Hwan.

Marakeshsparrow: What happened to Sang Hwan? He had a touch of crazy in his eyes after starting a fight with that bullying college senior. Obviously, he’s still haunted by his choices and Sang Ji’s death back in Muji, which I totally understand. But did he totally give up on trying to be a model son for his Dad? Did it not matter anymore since he went to school in Seoul? Or did he just decide to say “screw it, I’ll do what I want” and if THAT’S the case, WHY DIDN’T YOU DECIDE THAT SOONER? Gaaaaaaaah! Sang Hwan is still in the dog house for being a spineless butt.

Kate: Again, I think guilt is playing a key role here. Sang Hwan felt too guilty and so he cut himself off from the past as best he could. But you could see when he defended the young man who didn’t want to drink, and the way he answered the question about the court case in class that he very much regrets his actions of not protecting Sang Mi and Sang Jin and not standing up for Dong Chul. I’d bet he’s stood up for the bullied ever since.

Marakeshsparrow: Yeah, yeah. But that still doesn’t redeem him in my eyes. It’s going to take a lot more than just being a retrospective hero. Let’s see if he’s able to rise to the occasion in the episodes to come.

So what do you all think of Save Me so far, deprogrammers? Have you been sucked into the story, or are you still observing from a safe distance, trying to make your mind up? Let us know your impressions/predictions/annoyances in the comments below! And join us next week for another Save Me Drama Club!

For more from the Save Me Drama Club check out:

Marakeshsparrow: Love in Trouble | Voice | Daebak | Come Back, Mister | Madame Antoine | Cheese in the Trap | More from Marakesh

Kate: Duel | Saimdang: Light’s Diary | Let’s Fight Ghost | Answer Me 1988 |Entertainer| Orange Marmalade| Fall in Love Like a Star

Young Ajummah: @young_ajummah | Young Ajummah | Past Dramaclubs

Past episode reviews:

[Week 1]