Big Bet Season 1 Episode No 1 Recap
Episode 1 of Big Bet begins in the Philippines, 2015. A pair of guys appear in a Korean town, one of them goes upstairs to a real estate store, hits the floor, and leaves with a package.
This makes way for Cha Moo-Sik to appear in a special place in a fancy restaurant. He seems to be a regular here and asks about an American waiting for him. But the waiter behaves shady, hurriedly calls someone and asks them to come quickly.
Moo-Sik tries to stay calm until he receives a text from his partner saying that it’s all a trap. And just like that, a whole bunch of armed guards show up and arrest him. On what charges? Apparently, he killed Min Seok-joon. Mu-sik tells them it was a mistake, but it’s okay, he’s handcuffed and taken to the Immigration Bureau.
Then we return to Yangsan, Gyeongnam in 1972. Moo-Sik narrates his life growing up, including his daycare life. He longs to eat more than the nuns provide and befriends Jong-Hyun, another orphan.
The couple goes exploring together, they decide to hurry up and make money. Some of this comes from catching fire ants, which have a downright nasty bite. Fighting through the pain, they go to meet the old man at the herb shop, who is grateful and gives them some money. It’s not enough to buy fried chicken, so the group gambles with their kids, playing rock, paper, scissors. It does not benefit them.
After recovering from fire ant bites, Mu-Sik’s mother returns to the center. Of course, this leaves Jong-Hyun on his own.
Fast forward three years and Moo-Sik’s mother (Suk-Ja) is working hard to earn money for them to survive. Moo-Sik also works hard, hustling for Won as much as he can, catching tadpoles, and helping his mother. As for his father, he is a gangster and also popular in the area known as General (Kyung-Duk). He talks to Suk-Ja and is disgusted when he learns that Moo-Ji is far behind in his studies. He spanks his son for discipline until he learns to read.
At night, the place turns into a gambling den, Kyung-Duk asks Suk-Ja to cook for them all, and Moo-Jin is sent on his errands and ordered to collect 2 boxes of Bacchus-D. Kyung-Duk actually helps Moo-Sik with his studies, but in between he beats up a couple of gamblers trying to pull a fast one. Of course, since this is all illegal, Kyung-duk is thrown back into jail, leaving Mu-sik and his mother alone.
By 1976, Mu-Sik and Suk-Ja had started making money again, learning that Kyung-Duk had been taken to Daejeon Prison. Hilariously, she runs into Jong-hyun, who is in a hurry on the street. He ran away from the orphanage and now works as a newspaper seller. Moo-Sik sees this as a good opportunity, even though it’s still high stakes.
For every newspaper he doesn’t sell, he’ll get bumped. He decides to sell them for a larger amount.
This continues until 2000, where Jong-Hyun continues his work with less savory characters. Only now everything is much higher than before. Moo-Sik opened an academy for English and is on the straight and narrow. When Chi-Young (one of Jong-Hyun’s subordinates) shows up, they ask her for help. The trip takes them to Busan, where Mu-Sik gets a taste for gambling and even tries his hand at a few games.
Moo-Sik earns 1.9 million won as a result of his initiative, and in the morning he is given some alcohol checks and told to follow him. Now this alcohol is just a front for business behind closed doors, but it’s certainly big bucks. And of course, Moo-Sik starts thinking. He’s confident he can take care of the cops, but he needs a solid 12 dealers to keep the operation going. To make it a reality, he discovers a place and pays the owner, cleans the place and sets it up as a new casino joint in the city.
Big Bet gets off to a decent start here with a pretty lively 50 minute chapter that goes through a lot of Moo-Sik’s upbringing up to this point. We’ve had quite a bit of time between 1976 and 2000 though, and it’ll be interesting to see if those years are actually reflected in future episodes or if we’re left with this big time jump.
Anyway, what’s here feels like a mix of Pachinko and Insider, two K-dramas that aired this year. The aftermath is a pretty good proposition, and it will be interesting to see where future chapters go from here.