I think Episode 10 was the first standout episode of Mixed-up Investigative Agency. Perhaps some other fans might feel it hit that point before this, but for me, I’d always felt there was something a little “not-quite” about the series. Or maybe it’s just that the particularly masterful ending sequence this time was terribly moving. And while we’ve seen substantial proof of Yeh Jiwon’s (Hee-kyung) talented acting thus far, we now see a flash of depth in Ryu Seung-soo’s as Yong-su.
In any case, it’s too bad the series has hit a new ratings low of 2.9% (source: Newsen) because I think it’s remarkable how the plot just gets tighter and tighter as things fall into place, one by one. Most series are the opposite — they start out with an interesting premise and drop threads along the way. Not here, though. You get the sense every little thing has a purpose and has been planned completely in advance.
SONG OF THE DAY
Fortune Cookie – “Winter Story” [ zShare download ]
CASE No. 10: “Children See Monsters in the Dark”
Hee-kyung warily watches over Kang Seung Ho while the other three team members meet Baek Min-chul to make the map exchange. The plan is to verify the map’s authenticity before letting 007 go.
007 pisses Hee-kyung off by taunting that it’s clear she’s not over Min-chul yet. He says it must’ve been too great a fantasy that such a refined man as Min-chul would pay attention to such a cheap, lowly woman as her, so it’s understandable that she’d still be clinging.
Hee-kyung retaliates in the way she knows best: She freezes, staring fearfully behind 007 like she just saw a ghost. He doesn’t believe her at first, but she describes its horrible appearance and wails, “What crime have you committed against him? It’s too horrible, it’s awful!”
007 must have something weighing on his conscience, because he startles, and asks Hee-kyung urgently what the ghost looks like. Is it a young man? Does he wear glasses? Hee-kyung plays along and agrees, but the description starts to ring a bell…
At the birthday buffet, the antiques grandpa verfies the map is real, and Min-chul demands to know where 007 is. Just then, Hee-kyung calls Yong-su and frantically tells him to step aside for a moment while she talks to him.
Eun-jae happens to see Min-chul’s burned hand and suddenly flashes back to the traumatic day on the Gold Building rooftop. She’s certain that the scarred hand is the same one she saw that day, reaching up to snuff the life out of the dying young man.
When Yong-su comes back to the table, he changes the plan. Mu-yeol and Eun-jae will take the map and the grandpa and leave. Once they’re safe, Yong-su will let Min-chul know where 007 is. Min-chul grows angry over this last-minute switch, but Yong-su points out that they’ve got the place surrounded by a veritable army of gangsters, waiting to pounce.
Min-chul frustratedly orders his gangsters to let Mu-yeol and the others leave. Not intending on giving in to Min-chul so easily, Yong-su acts before the gangsters can stop him — he shouts at the cops to gain their attention: “Policemen of Korea! Kiss my ass!”
That lands Yong-su in jail for the night. But out of the gangsters’ grasp!
Speaking of whom, Min-chul is NOT happy over this latest turn of events. He orders his men to find 007. The gangsters ransack Yong-su’s place unsuccessfully, since that’s the only place they could think he might be.
Min-chul also displays some vulnerability, which I’m not quite sure how much to buy into. On his last date with Hee-kyung, one of the flower-shaped ornaments on her shoe had fallen off in his car, which he found and has been keeping all this while. Once more he takes it out to look at. It could be that he’s softened toward Hee-kyung (I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be the intent), but I just can’t quite believe he’s for real yet.
Hee-kyung realizes that 007 feels guilty for the death of a man bearing a striking resemblance to Yong-su’s missing older brother Junsu. She tells Mu-yeol and Eun-jae, but they decide that until they know more, they won’t bother Yong-su with the details.
007 realizes that Hee-kyung is an expert liar and regrets falling for her trick, although he says he wasn’t the one who killed the man. Hee-kyung asks, “Was it Baek Min-chul?” but 007 remains silent. Hee-kyung levels with him honestly, telling him that she’s lied in the past, but she’ll be completely straight with him right now.
“You know Kim Yong-su, right? The manhwa store guy. His older brother disappeared on the day before Chuseok in 1989. He was first in his class since middle school, and was going to go to Seoul National University’s medical school. But that son suddenly disappeared. The mother went crazy, and the father quit working to spend all his time searching for him. That family was completely destroyed. You don’t have to tell me who killed him, or why. Please, just confirm if it’s him. You have a family too — you have a daughter. Think of how you’d feel if she suddenly disappeared and you didn’t know if she was dead or alive. Can’t you do this much?”
Hee-kyung takes his silence for resistance, but 007 finally tells her he never knew the guy’s name. But he does remember the face — it’s haunted his dreams. If she brings him a photo, he’d be able to identify it.
Hee-kyung’s phone is low on battery, so she grabs 007’s phone to make a quick urgent call to Eun-jae, telling her of 007’s willingness to identify Junsu from a photo. She tells her to hurry and bring one before he changes his mind.
And so, despite the fact that the Gold Building is crawling with gangsters, Mu-yeol sneaks in to Yong-su’s apartment to retrieve a photo of Junsu. He’s caught by a group of thugs, and grabs the photo and the box of Gojong’s texts, taking the only exit he can — straight out the glass window. The window on the second floor. Above solid concrete.
On their way to the secret hideaway, Eun-jae notices Mu-yeol’s bleeding before he does, and pulls over to treat his injury. They don’t notice that Min-chul and his gang (having traced 007’s phone) zip by them on their way to the house.
The gangsters storm in and release 007, and one particularly belligerent guy slaps Hee-kyung angrily. Interestingly, it’s 007 who calls the man off and prevents the men from retaliating further against Hee-kyung. Stockholm syndrome? Human compassion?
Min-chul has a moment alone with Hee-kyung, telling her calmly, quietly, “Come on, there were only ever lies between us anyway. Neither of us should feel guilty, or that we incurred debts against each other.” Hee-kyung cries while spitting her fury out at him:
“Why’d you act like that from the start? If you’d sent a couple of thugs to beat me around a little I would’ve told you where the map was. Why the melodramatic act?”
Min-chul walks away, then turns back at the last moment to say:
“Thinking about it, there is one debt I incurred. Your lips were softer than I expected.”
Everyone returns to Eun-jae’s mansion, which becomes their new headquarters for the time being. Yong-su is released from jail, and the friends take a little time to enjoy the luxury of Eun-jae’s home.
As for 007, perhaps his several conversations while in captivity have put him in touch with his more humane, sympathetic side, because he can’t push aside his nagging guilt. He visits his little girl in the hospital (she’s just had surgery), and on his way out, a strange blind woman stops by his car and enigmatically says, “The child pays for the sins of the father.”
The woman tells him a parable basically warning that punishment for his crimes will be meted out on his children. After being tricked by Hee-kyung, 007 suspiciously snatches the glasses off the woman’s face — only to find that her eyes are scarred and disfigured, and she truly is blind. He shudders over the ominous threat, and the blind lady goes to the restroom to peel off the eye makeup while assuring Hee-kyung that her acting was perfect.
Yong-su gets a tip from the antiques grandpa about a little-known relative to the emperor, and goes with Eun-jae speak to a scholar to get more information.
Mu-yeol follows 007 from the hospital, and sure enough, his conscience has prompted him to face his past crime, and 007 drives to a secluded location in the mountains where a body has been buried without a marker. 007 pays his respects to the deceased, saying he committed a horrible wrong, but that his daughter is blameless. He pleads for forgiveness for himself and mercy for his child.
It’s finally time to tell Yong-su about the dead man and his possible connection to Junsu, and the friends have the grave dug up.
The three friends respectfully keep their distance as Yong-su, trembling with nerves and fear, makes his way to the body bag, barely able to bring himself to look. He confirms what they’ve all suspected: It’s his long-lost brother.
He picks up a little cake tag that reads “Happy Birthday” from the body bag, and explains:
“That day, he’d gone to buy my birthday cake… and didn’t return.”
(The music played in this last scene (as well as a few of the more sadly poignant moments in the series) kills me. Every. Single. Time. *sob*)
End sequence: “What If?”
…on that fateful day in 1989, Junsu had gone to buy the birthday cake for his younger brother…
…and came upon the staircase on the roof of the apartment, looked up curiously…
…and wondered what was up there, climbing the first few steps…
…but decided to turn around and head back down the steps to safety…
…and gone home to have dinner with his family, as planned…
… to celebrate his kid brother’s birthday?
“How many ‘What if’s are our lives built upon?”
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 9
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 8
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 7
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 6
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 5
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 4
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 3
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 2
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 1