The gambling scenes in this drama are a bit inexplicable without the context of the rules. For the poker game that makes up the opening, what you need to know is that one character has about an 87% chance of winning, and the losing character either needs a straight, a flush, or four-of-a-kind in order to beat his rival. As far as baccarat goes forget it. Even if I knew how that game works there's no way I could explain it succintly in a single sentence.
The essential thing to understand about these games is that they're played according to rules, and that outside of cheating, there's no such thing as perfect play. 87% is exactly that- a one-in-eight chance of losing. Gambling as presented in this drama is a fairly apt metaphor for life. Failure is still possible regardless of preparation and strategy. Both Yeong-dol and Yang-ha make good decisions based on the cards they have, but inevitably, one of them has to lose and consequently hate himself.
Put in this context the attitude the characters have is really quite ridiculous. They all take everything so incredibly personally, even when it comes down to a literal game of chance. But rather than take the opening poker game as evidence of the fact that life can turn successful or unsuccessful on a random whim, the winner decides to interpret this as a heavenly sign that he's on the right track, and the loser desperately tries to turn his luck around. In the long run this game means almost nothing- the characters probably would have reacted the same way even if the results were reversed. But it is symbolic.
Also symbolic is Dong-soo's special moment this episode, where he appears to have finally decided to do something about his problems, even if it's only really going to be satisfying immediately. I did like his sudden realization that social mores and politeness really aren't particularly important. Every success or failure in this drama happens according to a system- typically not one with rules as clearly defined as baccarat but a system nonetheless. So break the rules, and then what happens?
The funny part is that nobody's actually all that sure. The same sense of looming disaster hangs over this episode that hung over all the others. If anybody figures out what Yeong-dal is trying to do, the consequences will be pretty huge. But only for him. Dong-soo demonstrates here that it's only by challenging the system itself that any progress will be made. Even this, though, might not mean much in the long run.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Triangle - Drama" Episode 8"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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