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The views presented in this analysis are a part of my own individual interpretation of the video, which means they are subject to error. This post is based off of the video from the official SMTown Youtube channel. And thank you to my sister Laney who contributed to this.
A Monster prequel?This video definitely has similar vibes to Monster. The set, filming techniques, and certain visual parallels do seem to connect the two–especially since this video ends with them getting arrested and Monster begins with them in prison. I do think it’s very possible that this is supposed to be an explanation for how they landed themselves in prison, but I’m not entirely convinced. Why? Monster was about them working together to escape, and Lotto seems to feature them fighting against one another.
A Trojan War, Of Sorts: For those of you who need to brush up on your mythology, the Trojan War was fought between the Greeks and the Trojans over the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. Helen was married to the Greek king Menelaus, but was captured by the Trojan prince Paris (some versions of the myth say she fell in love with him) and taken into the walled city of Troy. The war was fought to win Helen back, ultimately won when the Greeks tricked the Trojans with the trojan horse.
I don’t think that this video is supposed to be a retelling of the myth, per se, more like it plays on the same type of story line. Two sides fighting over a woman. In this case, we have Exo split into two gangs. One I will call the home team, comprised of Baekhyun, Xiumin, Kai, and Chen. They operate this gambling ring. They capture a girl valued by a rival criminal group–Chanyeol, Suho, Sehun, and Lay. Chanyeol’s group infiltrates the gambling operation in order to save the girl. I believe that in this story line, D.O. is functioning as a sort of “trojan horse,” or double agent. He “joins” the home team while assisting Chanyeol.
The video begins with a shot of this girl running from something, which is later revealed to be a wolf. The video starts with her because she is the single most important factor in this video. She’s the instigator–and in the end, she’s the only one walking free. Throughout the video (though not always), scenes where she’s present will be shot in black and white. But the black and white scenes are not seen anywhere else except when she is present. This again confirms her importance.
As well, here she appears very innocent. She wears white, a color typically associated with purity. She also appears vulnerable, as she’s running from a wolf. She seems an innocent victim, which will change by the end of the video.
After a brief flash of a cockfight, we see D.O. standing directly in the line of sight of a cracked door. This raises my suspicion for a few reasons. First, it’s only a cracked door. It seems as if the person opening the door is peeking in, trying to observe but not be discovered. Second, D.O. is making direct eye contact with the camera–which can be a substitute for the person peeking in. And he doesn’t look alarmed. He shrugs, communicating. He’s making contact with someone outside of this operation. This is one of the reasons I’ve pegged D.O. as a double agent.
Our first glimpse at the debauchery of this underground ring is a cockfight. A cockfight is basically where two roosters fight to the death while the viewers place bets. I want to highlight three things: the cockfight, the gamblers, and Baekhyun.
The cockfight communicates two things. First, that these are cruel and greedy people and that this is a bad place. It helps to establish the tone of this sort of operation. Second, the cockfight taps into a certain tension also present between these two rival groups. They too are struggling against one another, aiming to destroy the other.
Baekhyun is just watching, he’s not placing bets. He runs this part of the ring. He’s there to experience it, to see himself making a profit, to watch the grit and the cruelty of the bet. This reveals much about his character. As well, Baekhyun is not wearing a mask where the “customers” are. None of Exo is. While the others have to protect their identities and reputations, they have nothing to hide. They have no life apart from crime that they have to protect. It’s like they believe themselves too powerful to be caught.
The guests appear to be wearing mostly white, all wearing metallic masks. (Did this remind anyone else of the ghoul restaurant from Tokyo Ghoul?) These guests are rich, with money to waste. Their clothing is nice. They come from luxury. Contrast this to the world of grime they’ve come to. They wear white, as if in faux innocence. Their luxury and their money are their disguise, as they assume purity despite the grime they choose to associate with. Exo wears dark colors or black. They do not assume innocence. They do not pretend, while their patrons do.
Another fascinating thing about this video is that usually you introduce the protagonist first, so you root for them. But aside from the group dance shot and the short flash of D.O., we see the bad guys first. We get a good look inside the devil’s den before we meet Chanyeol and the others coming as saviors. It sort of makes you root for them, even though they’re in the wrong. But then I guess it only goes deeper, since Chanyeol and his group are criminals, too. It’s not exactly who’s good and who’s bad, it’s who’s worse? And they all fall in the end, anyway.
This is another suspicious thing about D.O.’s character. While others give the air of running the operation (Baekhyun watches the cockfight, Kai smirks at the head of the table), D.O. looks wide-eyed, mystified. It looks as if he’s gambled for the first time. It looks like he’s new to this, as if he’s just joined up with them. The camera spins as well, making it seem more fantastical. If he has just joined, it would make sense if he was sent by Chanyeol to help him infiltrate the gambling ring.
Here the girl is revealed to be running from a wolf, but just one. This wolf represents the underground ring that captures her. I will further explain this late in the post.
Here is a shot of the poker chips and money. They’ve used an altered American $100 bill, which makes sense as American currency is most iconically linked to greed and gambling. As well, Benjamin Franklin has been replaced with the image of a skull. (It looks like there are images on the chips, as well, but they’re a little too small for me to make out.) The inclusion of the skull could either signify that this is dirty money, or that money itself brings destruction.
D.O. has his back against the cockfight cage. Continuing with the assumption that the two roosters symbolize the two sides of the conflict, D.O. is caught between them. He’s a double agent, linked to both sides. It’s only a matter of deciding which to pick. He’s betting on which side will come up on top.
I also wanted to call attention to the fact that there’s PVC strips around the cage area. Why? To limit blood splatter. (Also, Baekhyun looks cute.) Just again reinforcing that this is not at all a wholesome setting.
After being chased by a wolf, she collapses. A wolf approaches from each side, as if while she was being chased by one wolf, she was running toward another. While she was being pursued by Baekhyun and the others, she was running toward Chanyeol’s side.
This is the second inclusion of animals as a metaphor for the opposing sides, highlighting the violence and raw animal aggression of this struggle.
After she collapses, someone picks her up. From the next scene, where she’s tied up, we know that she was picked up by the gambling ring.
This is one of those black and white scenes. She looks otherworldly. Lights shine from above. She’s suspended in the air. Her skirt reaches the floor, making her body appear larger than a normal human being. More than anything, this reminds me of the image of a sacrifice. She appears otherworldly and vital but she’s helpless. She’s been put on display. She’s a prize, almost teasing Chanyeol’s side.
We see Chanyeol immediately after the shot of the girl. They’re linked.
Chanyeol, Suho, and Sehun are in the car, driving toward enemy territory where they’ll rescue her.
They come prepared for a fight.
D.O. sits on top of the cage, video camera in hand as he films everything. If he were truly a part of this operation, why would he be filming their illegal activity? No, he’s filming evidence. This is the tape that Chanyeol has at the end of the video.
Once they enter, all the customers flee. They sense a fight. I also think that it’s important that D.O. is the first person they see when they enter.
When the customers try to flee, Lay and Sehun shut them in.
As chaos breaks out, Kai and a chauffeur get into an ostentatious car. This is another display of arrogance. Kai fully expects to make a get away in this obvious, expensive car driven by a masked chauffeur.
However, Chanyeol leaps onto the hood of the car, prohibiting his getaway, mocking him.
At first, Baekhyun sat on top of the cage where the cockfights were going on, though it’s filled instead with their patrons. This showed how he was playing them as he profited from their bets. However, in the second shot, he’s the one in the cage. The tables have turned and now he’s trapped by his own business.
Chanyeol’s gang has not come only to rescue the girl. Lay and Sehun trapped the customers. Suho in a remarkably Dark Knight-esque fashion, burns all of their dirty money. They came not just to save but to destroy, not just take back what’s theirs, but to raze the city. It’s about sending a message, right?
This is probably what I think to be the most confusing part of the video. There are fake trees all leaned against each other, with a ladder leaned against that. A man is tied to some part of this with a bag over his head, and there’s a flare nestled in the ropes that bind his feet. I think that this man is Kai’s chauffeur? Maybe the whole image is meant to emulate a pyre? If you guys have any ideas, feel free to message me.
I think the flare most definitely indicates distress, as Kai has been caught.
Eventually, SWAT shows up to interrupt the conflict. Chen has his feet up on table and a wine glass in his hand. He even seems to smirk. He seems wholly undisturbed by Chanyeol’s gang, by the SWAT team. Like Baekhyun, like Kai, he’s come to think himself impervious. That notion will crumble.
With the arrival of the SWAT team, both sides seem to join together against the authorities. i think this perspective is interesting, because it appears to be shot from outside the door, as if you’re running away while this is happening.
Just as Baekhyun is trapped by his own business, Chen places blame with their operation. He destroys the table. His illusions have crumbled, he sees the end is near, and he lashes out in anger.
Others fight and are surrounded.
Meanwhile, Chanyeol’s first priority is that he gets her out.
She’s conscious when they were running away, but unconscious here. Being that Chanyeol is just about to be arrested, I think that she is pretending to be unconscious in an effort to appear a victim.
Where before she seemed just a pawn passed between two aggressors, here she reveals her true colors as she takes the tape of evidence from Chanyeol. If the officers were to find the tape on Chanyeol, they might assume he was complicit in this particular gambling ring. If she hands the tape in, it’s evidence she found–evidence against their rivals. She helps him.
As soon as the tape is in her hand, she goes back to playing the victim. She’s consoled by SWAT and escorted away. At this point, we can assume she’s the only one left free. In all of this she’s been presumed innocent, but in the last minute we see she’s complicit. Though they’re all captured, there’s more evidence against Baekhyun and the others. She gives Chanyeol’s side the advantage. She is the most important piece. Every other member went down but they got her out and that’s all that matters.
Now the question I ask is, is it really Chanyeol’s side? Or is it hers? For all we know, she leads the rival side. She could be a criminal in her own right, still dressed in white.
News from Stellar’s V-app broadcast: Stellar has begun preparations for their next comeback and will be back again before the winter - that means in the next 3 months or so! Yayyy, it’s such good news to hear~ I think it’s because Stellar and TEP can see that there is so much support from Twinkles abroad. Please anticipate their new release~