Piper is an ahjusshi show. Like I said previously, there’s no young Eye Candy material in Piper…but on the upside — ahjusshis CAN act. There’s something very sexy about Sung-chan. He’s your typical anti-hero; his compass in Life is geared towards a certain self-preservation, and with it, selfishness. That’s why he makes such a good negotiator. As long as HE wins, he can’t be bothered about the sacrifices others make to achieve his objective. But hmm, recently, he is starting to care — thanks to Myung-ha.

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And yup, I love Piper enough to want to weecap and write about it weekly. So there. No Song Joong-ki, but never mind.

Synopsis:

Whoops, seems like the Bank Robber isn’t pinpointing Hee-sung as the Piper, but another man (an officer?) who happened to be watching the news. Mystery Man/Piper whistles his haunting tune to warn Bank Robber to keep his trap shut.

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And shut he does. Bank Robber refuses to give any forms of statements, much to the police’s frustration. While this is happening, we switch scenes to Golden Resort’s casino, where a group of locals are protesting outside the Resort against the casino’s proximity to schools. Director Kang (son-in-law to Chairman Seo who owns the resort chain), sneers at the group of protesters. While driving out of the resort’s grounds, his driver accidentally hits against an incoming car, driven by a man who appears to be…psychologically unsound. Both driver and Director Kang dismiss the nutty driver and continue on their way.

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But…Nutty Driver drives on and rams his car right into the resort’s lobby. The SWAT team (who was hired to control the protesters) quickly evacuate everyone out from the resort — especially when they notice Nutty Driver has stores of kerosene, petrol, and flammable material in his car. (eeps) And after he regain consciousness, Nutty Driver begins to poke holes in aerosol cans, emitting poisonous fumes into his locked car…and driving him to near-mental breakdown. All the while, he mutters about the Resort “kidnapping his mum”, cos she’s “found out their brainwashing plans”…

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The police are alerted to this incident, and Myung-ha’s request to have Sung-chan roped in as “consultant” for the negotiation is flatly turned down by her newly appointed Team Leader Kong. But Sung-chan is “recruited” by another power — Chairman Seo, who has learnt of his aim to find the Piper. He offers to help; in return, Sung-chan muz dissolve the tense situation Golden Resort is having. (on a sidenote: Chairman Seo is using the casino as a money laundering business to “clean” his blood money accumulated over the years so that he can hand over a squeaky clean business to his only grandson) Chairman Seo suggests that Sung-chan uses the current crisis to discredit the protesters.

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And that is how Sung-chan ends up (to Team Leader Kong’s annoyance) at the crisis’ site. He very easily dismisses the angry protesters by simply telling them that the car contains flammable materials, and the ensuing explosion (if any) will hurt anyone within a 100km. He enters into the lobby (much to Myung-ha’s relief) and teaches her to diffuse the situation. Nutty Driver wants to publicise his mother’s “kidnapping” (actually, he’s schizo, and his mum passed away recently from pneumonia, causing him to skip his meds cos he is now living alone) on national TV. By now, reporters have gotten wind of the story and is flocking to Golden Resort. Sung-chan sees Hee-sung, and strikes a deal with him — pretend to “film” Nutty Driver, in return, he gets the scoop.

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So Hee-sung enters and Nutty Driver relaxes enough to crack open the car’s window. Hee-sung, however, notices a flyer from the protesters on Nutty Driver’s lap. (apparently, Chairman Seo’s instruction to Sung-chan is to link Nutty Driver to the protesters, to associate them with extremists’ actions) Myung-ha manages to gain Nutty Driver’s confidence, and manages to drag him out of the car eventually, when she empathises with him and says his mum didn’t die cos of him. (his mum caught pneumonia cos he failed to pick her up from the resort on a rainy evening)

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Sung-chan who has been witnessing the event, feels discomfited — enough to stop Hee-sung (who has caught on to the purpose of the flyer found in Nutty Driver’s lap) from broadcasting the story and linking the protesters with Nutty Driver. Hee-sung agrees, since Sung-chan dangles an even more interesting scoop for him: that of the Piper. However, he insists to have Sung-chan and Myung-ha attend a live interview on his programme.

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And so they did. Except Hee-sung doesn’t fly by the proposed questions, and starts asking uncomfortable questions about Sung-chan’s link to K Group and Chairman Seo’s dirty dealings. Sung-chan manages (as usual) to divert the questions in his glib ways while Myung-hee looks totally flabbergasted. Next morning, Sung-chan assumes his role as “consultant” to the Negotiations Team, in total style. Reporters swarm the police station when they caught wind of Sung-chan The Negotiator joining the police force on a temporary basis. Team Leader Kong has to smile thru gritted teeth while greeting Sung-chan. 😛

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First official case for Sung-chan: we are introduced to Team Leader Kong’s family, and his son who has suddenly become withdrawn from the family. We learn that this is cos of a school bullying case. Son witnessed his friend being badly beaten by school bullies (whose daddies, as usual, are all “powerful people”). He promised his friend to help him get justice served on the bullies, only to have Team Leader Kong (under duress from those “powerful daddies”) to sweep the case under the carpet as an “accident”.

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Son turns to an online forum, nicknamed “Underground”, to air his grievances. Of cos, Team Leader Kong is unaware of all these. But…Sung-chan, in his investigations on Bank Robber (whom he can’t have access to, to carry out his own interviews) learns that Bank Robber has been visiting the site before he committed the robbery. He also finds out that someone by the nick of Anonymous has been promising those who “suffered grievances” a way to get even — but at a cost. And that is exactly what Son is telling his injured friend in hospital, that he will help him seek justice, no matter what costs. On the way home, Son picks up a phone call, where the caller starts whistling a familiar tune, and looks behind him…

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Next thing we know, Team Leader Kong receives a video message from his son’s mobile phone (which is couriered to him) showing Son being held captive. He has only 2h to locate him, if not, Son will die. Team Leader Kong goes into panic mode. When he figures out that Son is held at the same location where his friend is beaten up, he rushes there, to find a video and a phone (on speaker mode) instructing him to admit to his part in covering up the bully case. Myung-ha, however, has a hunch that the perpetuator is nearby and runs up to the rooftop…

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…to find Son up there orchestrating the entire “kidnap”. Team Leader Kong, alerted by Myung-ha, rushes there, and father-son have a stand-off (with Son hovering very near the edge of roof). Son blames father for letting him down, he has always looked up to Team Leader Kong and was disappointed that his dad is actually a “corrupted cop”. However, Team Leader Kong has his own story to tell: he agreed to cover up the case cos the powerful daddies have threatened to sue Son and ruin his chance for college entry, for spreading “gossips and rumours” via Underground. Father-son finally get their side of the story out and the matter is resolved.

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Myung-ha guesses correctly that Sung-chan posed as Piper, given how he is not very surprised with Son’s orchestrated kidnapping. He admits to it, and claims that he did that to lure the real deal out. And true enough, Piper calls and “congratulates” Sung-chan for ferreting out his modus operandi. He tells Sung-chan to prepare himself for their “next confrontation”.

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To round up Son’s (non) case, Sung-chan helps him exact revenge for his friend, by waylaying one of the bullies and using a micro-pen recorder (borrowed off Myung-ha), records his admission of guilt. Grateful for his help, Team Leader Kong allows Sung-chan a brief 10-min interview with Bank Robber. Sung-chan pretends to be Piper again, and Robber falls for it. In that short burst of admission, Sung-chan learns that Bank Robber has been instructed to open up a private deposit box in the bank — and the box belongs to deceased Team Leader Oh (or Myung-ha’s foster dad). Bank Robber also claimed to have peeked into the box and saw a pen — Sung-chan whips up the pen-recorder which Myung-ha also has, and asks whether it’s the same one.

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Bank Robber is angry that he had been tricked by Sung-chan. That same night, in the remand cell, someone visits Bank Robber. He gets so agitated at the sight of his visitor, he decides to ram his head against the bars to self-mutilate. Next morning, Police Comm hears of this, and an investigation is called on the Negotiations Team. Police Comm also passes some info which he has learnt about Sung-chan’s past to Myung-ha. Prior to becoming K Group’s top negotiator, a younger Sung-chan has impressed Chairman Seo with his proposed tactic to chase away landowners for another resort. Sung-chan’s method then had entailed police force…and during the scuffle, a big fire broke out, killing 4 landowners, 2 of whom are Myung-ha’s parents.

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When Myung-ha confronts Sung-chan about it (but she doesn’t reveal what she learnt), Sung-chan is blasé about the incident, claiming that sometimes, “things happen” during successful negotiations. Myung-ha goes quiet at his response.

Review:

The structure of Piper isn’t new. One-case-a-week to showcase Sung-chan’s negotiation prowess, Myung-ha’s learning curve (she is still infuriatingly emo over her targets), and the gradual unraveling of K Group’s corruption. What is interesting is Piper‘s choice of a hero.

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Like I said earlier, Sung-chan isn’t your typical underdog, goody-two-shoes protagonist. In fact, he can be downright callous. In addition, he is also very much the peacock. He loves basking in the limelight, and isn’t afraid to show-off. From the flashback of the days where he, as a junior staff, speaks up in front of Chairman Seo and shows off his proposal to him (i bet he never told his superior about that), it’s kinda obvious there’s a cockiness to this guy. Given his talents at people management, I suppose his preening is justified.

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But now that Myung-ha learns the not-so-impressive side of Sung-chan, she will revise his impression of him. Previously, she’d kind of placed him on a pedestal, recognizing that he has skills which she can learn (she knows she is a newbie at this negotiation thing, and relies heavily on her security blanket — a notebook left by Team Leader Oh — as her lucky talisman). That pedestal if not removed, is probably cracked by now. While Sung-chan’s methods are effective, the means of achieving his goal are subject to criticism. He had calculated that people may die if he pushes for a takedown by force, but coldly weighs the human lives lost against the outcome, and chooses to outweigh the result more than the method.

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Myung-ha, on the other hand, believes her foster dad’s doctrine is more humane. He emphasizes on empathy, and focuses on reducing the number of innocent casualties. Unfortunately, his negotiation method isn’t usually the most cost-effective (Myung-ha’s recent case took her 4h to complete), and sometimes, not even effective.

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