Genius convict, Ha Woo Jin (Lee Sang Yoon), reviews a file on the creepy Kang Do Young (Shin Sung Rok), and discovers that he may have been the product of an experiment called Walden Two. When he asks his reporter friend, Goo Ja Young (Choi Yoon So) to investigate Do Young’s origins, she’s unable to find a single detail. The two of them recruit “Liar Game” contestant Choi Sung Hoon (Lee Shi Hoo), a hacker, to dig out Do Young’s past.
Meanwhile, “Liar Game” PD Lee Yoon Joo (Cha Soo Yun) has tracked down the deadbeat father of naive contestant Nam Da Jung (Kim So Eun), and entreats him to get in touch with his daughter. He tells her the story of how Da Jung unwittingly stopped him from committing suicide.
Do Young receives a report on Yoon Joo’s meeting with Da Jung’s father while preparing to go on TV. After he hangs up, he puts his hand in front of his face, testing out different expressions, then settles back into a blank mask. Creeeeeepy.
Back at jvN, Yoon Joo runs into Station Director Jang (Choi Jin Ho), who is puzzling over the investors’ lack of reaction to Do Young’s antics. He shares his suspicion that Do Young set up the game so he could win the prize himself.
As MC of “Liar Game”, Director Jang then interviews Do Young, and former loan shark Jo Dal Goo (Jo Jae Yoon). Do Young confesses that Da Jung’s unpredictability is the only thing that has him worried in the game. He questions Woo Jin’s motives, wondering if he hasn’t lied about what he intends to do with the money. For his own part, Do Young jokes that he intends to throw the money out of a helicopter over Seoul, to see the kind of chaos he’d cause. Both Dal Goo and Director Jang look uncomfortable as he laughs.
At Da Jung’s house, Dal Goo tries to convince Da Jung to forfeit out of the game. Since she doesn’t have enough money to forfeit and she doesn’t want to let down the rest of the team, she refuses, but then suggests they all quit.
At jvN, the next day, Director Jang drags treacherous player Jamie (Lee El) out for a chat, where she assures him she’ll win even if she has to betray him. Unfortunately, it’s Do Young who selects the teams in the next round, and he chooses the gangster, the has-been actor, and hacker, Sung Joon as his teammates, leaving Da Jung, Dal Goo, Woo Jin, and Jamie as the other team. As they leave, Sung Joon slips a USB stick to Woo Jin.
With that, it’s time for the Smuggling Game. At a maze-like complex of buildings, the two teams are split into the West nation (Da Jung’s team) and the East nation (Do Young’s team).
The rules of Smuggling Game:
Each nation has $5 million in the bank of the other nation. They have 24 hours to smuggle that money out, and the winner is determined by which team ends up with the most money. Each player gets a suitcase, and goes to the ATM of the other nation to withdraw their money. On their way back, they must go into the inspection room, where the inspector, a player of the other nation, must guess how much money is in their bag. If the amount is equal to or less than the guess, then the smuggling failed. If the amount is higher, then they succeed, and also get half the amount of the guess. If the bag turns out to be empty, than the other nation must pay the player half the amount they guessed as compensation. The players must retain their ATM cards at the end in order to receive their prize.
As the West nation goes into their side of the complex, Jamie and Dal Goo immediately start arguing, but Woo Jin warns them that the East nation can see them through the glass windows. On the East side, Do Young promises the players that they’ll definitely win if they trust him.
The first East nation inspector is the has-been actor, and Da Jung volunteers to be the first smuggler, since she has a plan. Her obvious ploy fails, but her teammates don’t fare any better; Jamie tries the Basic Instinct method, and also fails, followed by Dal Goo.
When it’s the East nation’s turn to smuggle, they win the first two rounds, but in the last round, the actor is easily beaten by Woo Jin. Meanwhile, Do Young is in the washroom making creepy expressions again.
When Do Young returns to discover his team’s loss, he takes their cards as penalty, so that he can play all of their turns henceforth. Having taken the other players out of the game, he tells them that if anyone communicates with the other team, their card will be given to whomever reports that person, thus setting them up to betray one another.
Back in the West nation, Woo Jin sends in Dal Goo as the first smuggler. Do Young defeats Dal Goo, explaining that he can tell the amount of money from a person’s expression. They decide to send in Da Jung next, to smuggle $55K. Do Young immediately guesses correctly. Next up is Woo Jin, with an empty briefcase, and Do Young guesses correctly again.
Back in the East nation, Sung Joon is becoming increasingly nervous, but is too scared to go up against Woo Jin. Instead, Do Young goes in and beats Woo Jin every time. Sung Joon points out that at this rate, Do Young will win the whole game by himself. At the West nation’s turn to smuggle, Do Young calls out the exact amount every time, defeating them again.
At the director’s booth, Director Jang asks if Yoon Joo is helping Do Young. She denies it, instead showing him some earlier footage that we don’t get to see.
At the East nation’s turn, Dal Goo goes as West nation’s inspector. Do Young gives all the East nation players their cards back, and let’s them handle the smuggling. Dal Goo defeats all of them with aplomb, and the game comes to a standstill with Do Young defeating all the players on one side, and Dal Goo defeating the players on the other side.
Since the West nation is on track to lose at this rate, Woo Jin decides to try something new. He gives Da Jung a note with instructions of how to fake out Do Young, which she can only open once she’s at the bank. Da Jung complies, then goes in to the inspection room.
In order to rattle her, Do Young tells her about Woo Jin being responsible for her father’s situation, but Da Jung doesn’t believe him. When he guesses $50K, she opens her case to reveal that she has $100K. Do Young looks taken aback (but we know by now not to trust his expressions), as Da Jung yells tearfully to the East nation people that they’re being tricked too, and that her team will help if they join up together.
Back in the West nation room, a confused Jamie wonders what’s going on. Woo Jin calmly turns to Dal Goo, and asks him why he betrayed them.
WOAH. I mean, I knew a twist was coming, but way to build up to it, “Liar Game”! I can’t wait to watch episode 10 and find out how this goes down. What happens with Dal Goo? And, how will Da Jung’s near-blind trust in Woo Jin be rewarded, especially when she finds out he really is responsible for her father’s situation? And, has Da Jung learned something about human nature yet?
I’m actually glad this show is so short, because I can’t imagine it would be able to maintain the suspense so well if they had to drag it out to the usual 16 or 20 episodes. Instead, we get a succession of twists and turns as characters we’ve learned to trust turn out to be traitors, and the traitors turn out to be trustworthy.
Leaving that aside, we still don’t have a clue to Do Young’s motivations, or even whether he has any. At the very least, he seems to be on track to sowing discord everywhere, with everyone at each other’s throats. Is he a psychopath? Or is he just playing one on TV? Here’s hoping we find out in episode 10.
In case you didn’t get enough of Shin Sung Rok being creepy in this episode, here’s some more: