Things get complicated in a third episode with many moving parts, as Ingu and Changho attempt to win over Pastor Jeon ahead of a giant cocaine shipment.
This recap of Netflix’s Narco-Saints season 1, episode 3 contains spoilers.
What I wonder about Pastor Jeon is how much he believes his own nonsense.
In the opening scene of this third episode, which follows on moments from the end of the second, he and Ingu discuss why the latter is back in Suriname despite having already served a prison sentence that wasn’t his fault, and the conversation naturally turns to his present endeavors. He had his fortune taken from him, his legitimate business destroyed, and now can’t take home any profits to his family. Why else would he be back in Suriname but money?
Narco-Saints season 1, episode 3 recap
The way Jeon describes cocaine is in explicitly religious terms, as a pure gift from Our Lord and Savior. It’s a bizarre pretense to keep up since Ingu sees straight through the gimmick, and Jeon is under no illusions about that. Is he staying true to his character, or has he been playing the character for so long now that there’s nobody else there?
Either way, though, Jeon’s resources are necessary to export cocaine from Suriname, and Chen Zhen, at least according to Jeon, doesn’t have the goods to make Ingu the margins he needs. So, that’s his pitch. If all Ingu wants to do is make money, he’ll make more of it working with Jeon.
So, this is obviously the first step of Ingu and the NIS’s plan to entrap Jeon. The high-level framework of the episode is about Ingu connecting Jeon with his “contact”, Sangman, who is really Changho on the phone in the safe house. Jeon has questions, but Changho/Sangman has answers. He plans to get the cocaine to the Korean mainland without interception by smuggling it in with chicken meant for American servicemen stationed there, 60% of which is imported from Brazil. Jeon likes the plan but insists on meeting in person, which forces Changho to go off-script, arrange a flight to Suriname, and turn up looking like he’s fresh off the set of Miami Vice.
Any potential negotiations are postponed by Jeon’s thorough attempts to vet his potential new business partner. Sangman’s passport reveals a previous visit to Suriname two years prior, which Jeon is curious to know the purpose of. Sangman claims it was to try and find an avenue for importing coke to South Korea, but his visit included a stop at the U.S. Embassy, which seems an unlikely destination for a drug smuggler. Sangman claims to have had a contact there, an American named Douglas Harper, who was dealing drugs on the side. The story doesn’t hold much weight, and it seems like the whole deal is going to go up in smoke.
Narco-Saints cheats a little here to build suspense, of course. Changho doesn’t let on to Ingu until later that his prior visit to Suriname was intentionally kept on his passport since a completely clean one would have been too suspicious, and that Douglas Harper is a real embassy employee who was indeed investigated for drug dealing. The story checks out, so when Jeon sends David to confirm it we know he’ll confirm “Sangman’s” claims, but we still end up down to the wire. When David takes a little longer than expected to recover the information, Jeon sends Preacher to kill Ingu and Sangman in their hotel, and it isn’t until both parties are stood on either side of the door with their guns drawn that David is finally able to verify Sangman’s story.
Nevertheless, Jeon is satisfied and agrees to supply two tonnes of pure Colombian cocaine to be shipped to Korea, which will take a month. Changho plans to return to Brazil, leaving Ingu to handle things on-site, which is probably just as well since their relationship is tested by the fact that Ingu figures out that it was the NIS who tipped off the Dutch authorities to seize his skate shipment in Aruba. Jeon also essentially forces Ingu to move in with him for the duration of this deal, which can’t possibly amount to good things.
I should note that it strikes me as odd how willing Ingu and Changho are to accept food and drink from Jeon knowing that he likes to put drugs in it, and that brings me to my next point. While snooping around the grounds, Ingu spies one of Jeon’s cult, a woman, being beaten with a stick for some kind of transgression and notes to Changho that everyone, including the kids, is forced to drink the blue concoction laced with cocaine.
Anyway, there are a few significant things to make note of here. For one thing, based on Changho’s dialogue, it seems like there’s another NIS spy somewhere within Jeon’s operation, though I can’t be sure that’s what he was getting at. Another thing is Chen Zhen. He badgers Ingu consistently about meeting, and the fishman makes the mistake of going to see him alone. When he does he’s jumped, beaten, and taken to an alligator farm. Chen Zhen wants to punish him for siding with Jeon over him, but Ingu pitches him a new deal — he will kill Jeon, Chen Zhen can take over his operation, and the two of them can sell the cocaine in Korea together. But that means that Jeon will need to be dealt with before the drugs get out of Brazil, which is problematic since Jeon doesn’t even personally attend the transportation of the two tonnes — at least half of which, it’s worth noting, has been acquired on credit — to the Suriname-Brazil border.
The episode ends with the whole gang being held at gunpoint by Brazilian border authorities. The plot thickens.