The path of redemption has been an underlying theme throughout the course of Strong Girl Nam-soon, and in Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 9-10, we see some of the planted seeds start to flourish. But that path itself is a muddy one. As for the strong women of this series, with the prospect of their own mortality hanging over their respective heads, we see that theme take a swift right turn and collide with their own pursuit of justice.
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episode 9 starts off where we left off the last episode, with Nam-soon (Lee Yoo-Mi) dressed up as a Grudge-looking ghost superspeeding her way away from the scene of her sanctioned crime. Lieutenant Gang Hee-sik (Ong Seong-wu) is right behind her and makes it a much-needed point to tell her that her plan to steal Ryu Shi-O (Byeon Woo-seok)’s computer was awful. And, as it turns out later on in the episode, their efforts were in vain. Shi-O and those close to him are notoriously good at hiding their tracks. However, Nam-soon does point Hee-sik to look into Pavel, a Russian mafia organization with deep ties and a strong grip on Shi-O.
Revealed in flashbacks between Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 9-10, we learn that Shi-O’s backstory is linked to Pavel. As an orphan pulled into Pavel’s web as a child, we see how his philosophy surrounding strength was built – through the brutal training handed to him growing up. With survival at all costs beaten into him, his need to be the strongest and dominate all others makes sense. But the kindness, bubbly personality, and seeming acceptance from Tsegtseg (Nam-soon in disguise) are also explained away through this backstory.
But growing up in that environment has also made him suspicious. Hwang Geum-joo (Kim Jung-eun) has zero chill or subtlety in her pursuit of knowing who is the cause of the uptick in drug overdoses in the area and wants to know who is backing Shi-O, which has painted a target on her back. But he has also started to suspect Tsegtseg of working with Geum-joo. Based on Kyle, the Russian guard’s, description of the thief in the office, she is the seeming culprit, and Shi-O goes to find Lee Myung-Hee (Choi Hee-jin), formerly known as Lee Hwa-ja, the fake Nam-soon.
Shi-O, inadvertently, also mirrors Lee Myung-Hee and her life trajectory. Both are orphans and have embraced a life of crime. But, for Myung-Hee, her experience with Geum-joo and her desire for a mother overall has changed her. Presented with an opportunity to join Geum-joo’s family, we see how willing she is to sacrifice her life for that opportunity. In a one-on-one conversation with Shi-O in Strong Girl Nam-soon Episode 6, she lies to his face about Nam-soon’s identity, protecting her in the process. Satisfied with Myung-Hee’s answer, Shi-O focuses his suspicions primarily on Geum-joo instead.
Geum-joo and Hee-sik don’t help with his suspicions when they meet up with Shi-O and Nam-soon (still in disguise as Tsegtseg) at The Heritage Club. While Hee-sik wanders off to plant a recording device in a specific room, Geum-joo stays with Shi-O and Nam-soon where things get heated. Geum-joo straight-up calls Shi-O a destroyer, prompting Nam-soon to interject. Realizing she’s lost face, Geum-joo backs off, but Shi-O’s dislike for her is solidified.
This culminates in his decision to have Geum-joo killed off at the end of Strong Girl Nam-soon Episode 9. Ending on such a climatic note makes it feel like the writers are finally delivering real stakes. When Nam-soon is confronted by Shi-O with the proposal to kill Geum-joo only to have him then reveal that he’s actually already taken care of it, it delivers on the promise of the strong women’s mortality that we’ve been seen dangled the entire season. Unfortunately, as we see in Strong Girl Nam-Soon Episode 10, plot armor strikes again. But that doesn’t mean the threat of death is going to spare the family just yet.
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episode 10 begins with the revelation that the demise of Geum-joo didn’t go according to plan for Shi-O. Thanks in part to her connections with the secret organization Opulentia, she is able to secure a body double to portray her comatose self in the hospital while Geum-joo works behind the scenes to see what happens once Shi-O thinks she’s out of the picture. And, while there is an understanding of why this decision was made to keep her active player, continuously relying on plot armor to save both Nam-soon and now Geum-joo does more harm than good.
These characters are human. Yes, they are superpowered but they are still human. They can overwhelm themselves. They can bleed. They can buckle under immense strain. But when the writers have continuously danced around the threat of injury and nothing continues to come of it now 10 episodes in? That’s a little annoying. Heroes are their most memorable when they are revealed to be just as human as we are, and that includes real human stakes which…we haven’t necessarily received. At least, not until the end of Episode 10.
For the past couple of episodes, we’ve seen Nam-soon’s brother, Nam-in (Han Sang-jo), and Hee-sik’s colleague, Ha Dong-suk (Jung Seung-gil) experience gradual and then sudden side effects of Shi-O’s drug. Nam-in has been taking an unsolicited weight loss pill after caving into the pressures placed on him by his family and society to lose weight. With his appetite reduced, he keeps taking it but in Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 9-10, we see him deteriorate, with only his father, Gang Bong-go (Lee Seung-joon) noticing his decline.
As for Dong-suk, he is so desperate for hydration, he tries to drown himself in the sea. He is inevitably stopped by bystanders but, by the episode’s end, it does look like he’s now succumbed to the drug. Both men’s fates will have huge ramifications for our leading characters, and will be a stark reminder of the dire need to find answers in the case but also remind everyone of the danger that is involved in pursuing Shi-O and – ultimately – the Pavel group.
But first, Nam-soon is going to have to deal with Shi-O and his growing crush on her. Having attempted to murder her mother, she rightfully does not want to have to deal with him. But with the case at stake and needing to find evidence that he is involved in the drug trade, Nam-soon sticks it out. This culminates in a date and a moment of truth shared between the two, where Nam-soon tells Shi-O that she’s not sure if he is light or shadow, but the potential to turn towards the light is still there for him.
This further intensifies his feelings for her and prompts him at the end of the episode to ask her to date him. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t realize there is another man in the picture, and, even more unfortunate for him, Hee-sik and Nam-soon share an accidental and then a purposeful kiss when Nam-soon crashes at Hee-sik’s place after the date. Shi-O has a lot of disappointment to prepare himself for.
A lot happens in Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 9-10 but, as the series starts heading towards its climax, the chess pieces have been moved to guarantee future explosive moments. With the reveal in Episode 10 of the evidence Hee-sik and his team needed to prove that Doogo is a carrier of this mystery drug, the doors are now open to escalate the drug case plot forward for maximum pay-off. The question is whether or not other plotlines get left behind in the process or drag down the overall trajectory of the show.
For example, the inclusion of the return of Gil Joong-gan’s (Kim Hae-sook) husband and Geum-joo’s father as a sideplot reads as unnecessary filler with everything else Strong Girl Nam-soon has been juggling. The romantic affair between Joong-gan and Seo Jun-hee (Jung Bo-suk) has been cute and diverting, but adding an extra layer on top of their whirlwind romance is a little much. In the process of adding sideplots, the writers have completely done away with others without a word, rhyme, or reasoning like the fate of Nam-soon’s formerly homeless friends. What happened to them outside of a scene or two in more recent episodes?
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 9-10 has shown us it’s ready to stop playing around with its drug case storyline. How the writers continue to mishandle the stakes, though, may prove to be detrimental. But all heroes have to fall at some point and, if it takes using their more vulnerable family members to do so, then that is perhaps where viewers need to look.
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-10 are now available on Netflix, with new episodes airing on Saturdays and Sundays.
Strong Girl Nam-Soon Episodes 9-10
As Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 9-10 have shown us, it is ready to stop playing around with its drug case storyline.