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Prison Playbook (2017) - Ep. 7 - Does it hold up?

If you’re more focused on the relationships than the shenanigans, this won’t be your favorite episode.

Je-hyuk and Dr. Ko practice their campaign dance

Last week’s episode concluded with the cliffhanger that, despite everything else seeming to go very well for Je-hyuk - he agreed to try to make a comeback in baseball! - he told Ji-ho (his ex-girlfriend) to stop visiting. If you’re hoping for some movement on that front in this episode, you’ll be disappointed. We’re treated to multiple flashbacks from both of them about what they were like prior to Je-hyuk’s imprisonment and Joon-ho calls both of them idiots for not being together when it’s obvious they both still care about each other. Still, neither of them speaks to the other and there are no decisions made by either in regard to their relationship or lack thereof.

Democracy lives!

This episode has one driving plot thread as compared to the multiple threads from the last couple of episodes. This actually has the effect of making the episode seem longer because there aren’t constant distractions. The new woodshop chief is as willing or maybe even more willing to be corrupt with Lieutenant Lee as the previous one. He demands the prisoners work night shifts and while he does promise them their night shift pay, he tells them they can’t have breaks because he’s doubling the amount of work they must produce as compared to the last guy. I had high hopes that someone with such a bright smile would be kinder.

Dr. Ko, of course, isn’t going to take this lying down. He files multiple petitions against this new status quo, but Lt. Lee keeps taking them out of the petition box and trashing them. Finally, Min-chul tells him that he should instead focus on making a proposal for a new change. Ko comes up with the idea to ask the Warden to institute an election for woodshop chief. Unfortunately, Ko himself can’t run because his prisoner level is too high. It’s extremely unclear to me why Ko, accused of a white-collar crime, would be considered more dangerous or criminal than Je-hyuk, who is in prison for excessive violence during self-defense, but so it is that Ko nominates Je-hyuk for the role.

Ko immediately becomes Je-hyuk’s de facto campaign manager and does the math - with the normal prisoners and the thugs on their side, Je-hyuk should win the election easily because the existing chief will only get a couple of votes. There’s a week until the election, however, and Ko still creates a plan, multiple flyers, and even some skits and speeches for Je-hyuk to perform in order to maintain his position. Unfortunately, these all have absolutely no effect while Lt. Lee does something to convince the thugs to vote for his corrupt chief, instead.

Dr. Ko does the new math and realizes that they’ll have to convince the four drug addicts on the woodshop crew to vote for Je-hyuk. First, however, he’ll have to convince them to vote at all. When he first approaches them they ask to be bribed but he refuses. Justice must prevail, according to Dr. Ko! He comes up with a plan to write them a persuasive letter. Election day finally arrives and they all vote for Je-hyuk! Victory for the good guys! They also fawn all over Je-hyuk which causes Captain Yoo to question whether Je-hyuk paid them or if they’re just enamored with his fame. Je-hyuk tries to insist it was Dr. Ko’s justice but eventually admits it was fame.

We are then treated to a flashback from the day prior. Je-hyuk approaches them, willing to pay them, but discovers they’ve all drastically changed their tune! They will all vote for him enthusiastically! Je-hyuk turns around to find...Jailbird! He’s been transferred to this prison and is the new supplier of drugs to all of the addicts; he told them they had to vote for Je-hyuk in the election or he’d cut them off.

The whole bit was pretty funny, especially the attempted skits. It was also great to see the return of Jailbird, who has sworn to make Je-hyuk’s prison term as pleasant as possible. It’s kind of cool to see Je-hyuk’s interference with others in prison continue to net him rewards even after Joon-ho’s warnings against it. Speaking of Joon-ho’s warnings...

Random bits

  • One of Joon-ho’s earliest warnings to Je-hyuk was that everyone in prison - except for Je-hyuk - deserved to be there and that Je-hyuk should therefore avoid them. However, this episode features more flashbacks that show that Captain Yoo is innocent of the crimes he has been accused of.
  • Dr. Ko also has a meeting with his wife where they discuss the pay from his company and she accuses them of being evil. It’s becoming more and more apparent that Ko was framed, as well.
  • Looney started the episode being lucid from the drugs he took last episode but that quickly evaporates. The first time he does something goofy his fellow inmates celebrate the return of their quirky fellow, but he and KAIST get in multiple fights again later.
  • Looney swears off taking any more drugs. He has decided to get clean for his boyfriend’s sake. They have another meeting and Looney tries to hold hands but the boyfriend resists,. We see a flashback of when he was arrested for his drug use and an unfamiliar woman sitting next to his boyfriend takes credit for actually ratting him out. Who is she? Why is the boyfriend taking the fall for her?
  • Even after he stops taking the drugs, Looney is doing crossword puzzles that look difficult to me. Is he actually off the drugs or is he just acting goofy to fool everyone?
  • KAIST’s wife leaves him and he cries over it a lot. She was his sixth or seventh, but I guess you never get used to that kind of pain.
  • Joon-ho continues his roundabout courting of Je-hee (Je-hyuk’s sister.) At one point he sends his younger brother, Joon-dol, to escort her home after she has a particularly late night at the restaurant. Joon-ho was only talking to Joon-dol because Joon-dol is arranging a blind date for him, though, so it may be a while before Joon-ho is willing to admit he might actually have a thing for Je-hee. And, of course, once he does they’ll have to work through her feelings of rejection when he left her gift behind back in high school.

Every episode ends in a cliffhanger and this week is no different. Je-hyuk has multiple bullpen sessions throughout the episode, but things don’t seem to be improving. He still can’t even reliably get the ball from the mound all the way to the target he’s aiming at. Much less with any velocity or control. Joon-ho calls an end to the last training session and the camera follows him toward the exit of the makeshift bullpen when we hear the distinctive thwack of a baseball hitting a plastic mat with authority. The camera wheels around to show Je-hyuk and Joon-ho insists he do it again. This time we get to see as Je-hyuk uses his right arm to throw a quality pitch, hitting the bull’s eye.

Turns out Je-hyuk is a natural righty. He pitched with his left-hand because his father insisted on it when he was a child. This has, apparently, made him an ambidextrous pitcher. For now, everyone seems to be considering that he might be able to return to pitching as a righty until he can finish rehabbing his left shoulder - which will take a long time, yet - and at least get back in the game. His right-handed pitches aren’t as good as his best left-handed pitches, but they’re better than anything he can do left-handed right now. Of course, he also still needs to complete his prison sentence so there’s lots that can happen between now and then, too. Still, it will be interesting to see how this affects his attitude and rehab efforts!