Drama Recaps
Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 15
by | November 29, 2007 | 12 Comments

What an excellent episode. By far the best to date. Episode 15 had everything — adventure, mystery, suspense, emotion, depth, and yet another well-done cliffhanger ending.

In fact, it rather felt like a mini-movie more than an episode of television because of the way it skillfully brought the tension to a head; and yet, there were still those trademark Mixed-up small moments of goofiness and wit. It wasn’t till the episode finished that I realized I’d spent the hour all tensed up in anxiety. With just one more episode to go, do our fearless friends finally find the treasure??!?

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Well, maybe. First things first.

CASE No. 15: “The Bell Tolls For Everyone”

Gahh, is that an ominous title or what?

Thanks to Min-chul’s maneuvering, construction halts on the building housing the hidden gold, and the workers have gone on strike. Yong-su and Eun-jae both feel the events are a bit suspicious and sudden, but the group decides not to look a gift horse in the mouth and commence their plan to find the gold while the building is empty.

Their first attempt to enter the building fails (really, are we surprised anymore?), so they sneak in on the second try and make their way to the spacious basement area. Equipped with hidden cameras to watch their back, exploring equipment, flashlights, and all sorts of other spelunking gear, they look around, reciting the message they found in the burnt map that directs them to the “darkest place” and a “five-petaled flower.”

They indulge in calculations estimating the worth of their gold prize, and dream of what they’d do with the money. Yong-su seizes the moment to launch into a hilarious soliloquy:

“I’ll say it again, but a true rich man has confidence. If he sits on a bench on a rainy day, eating cup ramen and pickled radish, the rich man is not ashamed. Why? Because he’s not eating that because he has no money, he’s eating it because he wants to! Do you know why poverty is hard? Because you have to withstand judgment from others! ‘How do others see me?’ When treated to a meal in a restaurant and something cheap is ordered, you wonder if that’s too stingy. When something expensive is ordered, you wonder if they’re going to steal some of it. It’s enough to make your head burst! We can be rich without money! How? If we act with dignity! Do you understand what I’m saying?!”

That, of course, leads to mere blank stares and Mu-yeol’s question: “How do you do that without money?”

While the rest of the world is busily wrapped up in Christmas fervor (the day is December 23), the friends reach an impasse when they’re unable to locate the flower symbol. While they sit dejectedly, Hee-kyung spies something on the wall and gasps. Is that—?!

But no. Hee-kyung explains, “You know, that’s how it happens in movies, you discover it coincidentally.” So Mu-yeol gives it a try, too, whirling his flashlight around, stopping at any point in the wall, his light beam landing on a random spot:

Only this time, he finds something.

It’s not quite a flower pattern, but it looks familiar. The guys realize it’s a puzzle, and they need to move around the pieces in order to form the flower pattern in the wall. With some ingenuity, they trace the pattern onto paper, mark the corresponding sheets with numbers, then get some help from the neighborhood boy who’s always playing with puzzles.

(This is kind of what I mean by this group finding things that other people wouldn’t find — not necessarily because they’re smarter, or have hidden talents that other people lack. It’s more that their unique combination of personalities and interactions lead to accidental revelations, and then their collection of oddball talents helps them proceed further. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these four friends are the ONLY people who could find the gold successfully, but it does explain why nobody else has been able to before them.)

Once the picture is assembled, the friends allow a moment to exult in their minor victory. But then they wonder: “Now what?”

The exact result isn’t shown onscreen, but we can assume that Mu-yeol uses his strength to push the tiles inward, causing them to fall and reveal an entrance to something below.

They peer down, test the cavern below for oxygen levels (quite safe), and then lower themselves into the maze. (All but Eun-jae, who remains in the basement as their lookout, watching their movements on her laptop; she can hear and see everything since they’re outfitted with a camera.)

And now we finally see what the funny-looking map is for — it’s a representation of the tunnels and passageways of the underground lair! Clever clever.

As the three others use the map to make their way along the underground passageway, they pass the time asking rhetorical questions, like, “What was the happiest moment in your life?” Hee-kyung answers that it’ll be today, when they find the gold.

Mu-yeol talks into the camera to address Eun-jae with his answer: his happiest day was meeting Eun-jae on the rooftop of their building.

Yong-su’s happiest moment flashes him back to his youth. It’s not a big deal, but his family used to go on picnics together, sleeping on the grass lazily: “It was that kind of day, when I understood all of a sudden what life was. Happy and sad at the same time.” The others don’t get what he’s saying, so Yong-su goes on:

 

Yong-su: “Let’s say there was an ant. That ant lived very diligently, working to become the best ant in the world. But one day, all of a sudden, he realized he was an ant. If someone’s foot were to come down on him, he could die for no reason at all.”
Hee-kyung: “What’s so happy about the day you realized that?”
Yong-su: “What I mean is, it’s not so much being happy as it is knowing that this ordinary life could disappear at any moment, so a day that’s not special at all suddenly feels precious.”

 

Mu-yeol still doesn’t really understand Yong-su, and instead asks Eun-jae what her happiest day was, just as they reach some kind of door.

Hee-kyung pushes on it just as Yong-su realizes the booby trap laid therein, but it’s too late. The revolving door swings open, sweeping a glass vial onto the hard ground to crash, releasing some noxious gas that knocks the three of them out immediately.

Eun-jae watches and hears this over her laptop from her station, alarmed. She sees that they’ve been knocked unconscious, and knows she has to act quickly. She grabs some supplies, ready to rush into the maze to help them — but balks at the yawning black chasm open before her. Her greatest weakness just might prevent her from going any further, because she breaks out into a cold sweat, her vision blurs, and she starts to feel the onset of a panic attack.

But what’s so great about this drama is not only that Eun-jae grabs her supplies and jumps down into the black, but that they’ve done an excellent job showing us just what a huge sacrifice this is to her peace of mind — and just how damn significant it is that of everything she’s encountered, THIS is the thing that prompts her to walk through her fear. Her personal demons overwhelmed her even in the face of gangsters, the threat of violence, and other perils, but she won’t let them overwhelm her now.

Eun-jae stumbles along despite it all, forcing herself to continue. When she collapses to the ground, she crawls on. She finally arrives at the unconscious trio, and just manages to activate some air-purifying device and put the oxygen to Mu-yeol’s mouth before she fades to black…

…and her mind flashes back in silent answer to Mu-yeol’s question. What was Eun-jae’s happiest day?

Why, it was Chuseok! Cooking with her new friends, laughing, joking.

When she comes to, Mu-yeol is positively giddy, because it’s said that you supposedly realize your true feelings when you’re on the brink of death — and she put the mask to HIS face! That’s irrevocable proof that she loves him most! (Eun-jae bursts his bubble by saying that he seemed the best choice since he’d awaken and pass the mask on to the next guy.)

Eun-jae receives word that the construction strike has been called to an end, which means they only have two days’ worth of access left. She returns to her post in the basement and the three friends continue on until they come upon their next, possibly trickier obstacle. It’s a long pit of rank-looking water. They can’t tell how deep the water goes and have no appropriate equipment.

This stumps them for a while, and they sit at the foot of the pit, mulling over their problem. The guys suggest turning around, but finally Hee-kyung steps up, resolute. She’ll go in.

Everyone else thinks it’s way too dangerous — they don’t know if there are more traps involved — but Hee-kyung is determined. With 25 hours left now, if they don’t go on, they’re giving up. She’ll regret it for the rest of her life, thinking she should have gone into that water.

The guys say they’ll go instead, but Hee-kyung isn’t having it. They’re touched and alarmed at her sacrifice, and she tells them to drag her back if something goes wrong.

Even though I’m pretty sure at this point Hee-kyung can’t be in terrible danger, the acting in the scene, and the seriousness of everyone’s reactions, makes me terribly afraid for her.

Just in case something does happen to her, Hee-kyung says her final words to her team. She thanks them, then prepares to jump. As she contemplates the steaming pit of water, she flashes back to HER best days… remembering the joking and even the fighting amongst her and her friends.

Mu-yeol and Yong-su fight back tears (Eun-jae cries freely), afraid for what might happen. When Hee-kyung jumps into the water, the guys instinctively scream after her (and freak the hell out of me; I swear, I was tense enough without them breaking into sudden shouts!).

They wail in fear and dismay as she disappears underwater —

— and she pops right back up.

“Well, um, the water’s… not so deep…”

HAHA. I had a feeling all this build-up would end in a comic moment, but to their credit, I don’t think it takes away from the emotion of the previous beat.

The guys jump in after Hee-kyung (pretending they weren’t that scared) and they continue on their way.

But! Oh noes! A wrench, she is thrown!

Arriving at the location are the antiques grandpa with Baek Min-chul. Ahh, this cannot be good.

Unaware of this, Hee-kyung, Mu-yeol, and Yong-su arrive at their next location — a wide, spacious chamber with a circular well-like pit in the center…

…and an altar of golden bars! They briefly note that there doesn’t seem to be as much gold as they expected, but they’re not complaining.

Antiques grandpa and Min-chul arrive in the basement and force Eun-jae along as they make their way into the maze. Seeing that Eun-jae’s having difficulty stumbling along in the dark enclosed space, Min-chul knocks her unconscious with a swift blow to the back of her head and carries her along.

Thus the three newcomers interrupt the other three (oldcomers?), cutting short their victorious celebration.

Min-chul remains silent, and the grandpa has a bit of a Scooby Doo moment when he explains himself. He’d never stopped searching for the gold, but didn’t help the friends with their own treasure hunt because he didn’t trust anyone after being betrayed by Jo Man Gi. He congratulates the friends on having gotten this far.

Grandpa takes a look around the chamber, and finds some kind of heavy key-like apparatus, which he locks into place. That action causes the room to tremble as something starts shifting deep within it.

It’s the well in the center, which drains and reveals —

But the grandpa isn’t satisfied. He wants something more. He twists the key further, not caring that each motion seems to be making the chamber more unstable. A secret compartment swings open, revealing a stash of books and scrolls.

He unrolls a particular scroll, and then shouts in exultation: ‘I’ve found it!!”

 
But there’s a final obstacle — the room starts to shake, and a mass of sand pours onto the grandpa, knocking him down, as the rest of the chamber caves in on itself…

 

 

End sequence: “A chance meeting…”

A young boy sits by himself at the side of a lake, when an old man (the grandpa) suddenly appears and sits beside him. Having parked his cart of belongings nearby, the old man silently sits, paying the boy no attention, as he eats.

The boy looks at the man curiously, and when the man rises to leave, the boy follows behind at a distance. The man glares at him, but the boy doggedly continues following, and starts to push the cart along.

(I’m guessing that this segment represents the way Min-chul and the old grandpa first met.)

 
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12 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. bethany

    oh so exciting and anxiety-building… i wonder how it twill all end…

  2. thunderbolt

    One of the things I’ve loved about the series is how Hee-kyung and Eun-jae’s relationship has grown. Now seeing your screencap of the two of them side by side, Hee-kyung bracing herself for that plunge into the unknown and Eun-jae crying openly for this woman who has somehow become the unni she never had, I just can’t stop my own tears from falling. Another tissue moment: your description of Eun-jae overcoming her personal demons in order to save her friends. Hey, MIA is supposed to be this wacky riot of a drama. No one warned me I would be crying this much!

  3. canyayasis

    I might remain the odd man out on this topic –
    but *with the exception of Ep. 5 of Coffee Prince – the trip to the apple orchard*
    I haven’t rewatched any of the Coffee Prince episodes -
    I do listen to the music almost everyday – but i have deleted the series from my computer.
    What i enjoy and will continue to enjoy about EIA – is that i am to pull out any one episode of this series and watch it – and laugh – and cry – each episode is a complete meal, so to speak….
    While watching EIA I found myself pulling for EVERYONE !
    I wanted them ALL to do well – even 007, as a daddy with a sick child…
    There was a sense of forward motion with every episode –
    In a series such as C.P. – the yin and yang of each episode was –
    They’re together – they’re not – they’re together – they’re not -
    will they get back together – will they break up for good -
    But with EIA i found myself watching and cheering for all of them -
    mumbling “do a good job! do a good job!” while figuring all the bits and pieces of a good old fashion treasure hunt -
    an oddly enough – for all the hullabaloo about C.P. and Go Chan “learning tae kwon” so that she could use it in the series –
    -it was MU YEOL In EIA that got use his skill set throughout this series -
    jumping out of windows – kicking dancing gangsters…
    and Mu Yeol’s teaching studio was prop throughout the series – whereas after the 1st 2 eppies of C.P. we never saw the studio or Go Chan use her tae kwondo again -

    This episode – number 15 – was mesmerizing -
    Eun-Jae was willing to die for her friends –
    She had no hesitation in her choice – her demons attacked and she pressed on -
    in the darkness, holding on to a rope and a wall – fighting to breath…
    you can almost hear the whisper inside her heart, as she stumbles on -
    i won’t let them die…..even if it kills me – i won’t let them die…
    isn’t that love?
    for all her trips to the memorial of her father – and her trips to the hypnotists office -
    she hears her father say again and again and again – sarangeh
    i love you….i love you….
    and to her new family of three – she stands face forward to her inner demons – and says,
    i love them and i won’t let them die.

  4. tealeaf

    Been a silent reader, but want to finally pop in and commend MIA for an outstanding episode. This is based on reading javabeans’ summaries while waiting for the subs.

    Dude. That was nice. Have been a fan since Alone in Love, but beginning to have even more respect for Park Seon Yeon after this series. I ain’t a writer but can tell that this is solid work (as if anybody cares about my opinion!). What stood out for me is that the story and emotions continue to flow well despite shifts in the scenes. It’s clever storytelling but not confusing. Plus, the story moves forward. At no point do i feel like the series has come to an impasse and stayed there so that the writer can kill a few more episodes before moving on to the big finale. I also love how the writer is able to maintain the right balance for the series: sprinkled it with enough action, humor and humanity while managing not to dwell on any aspect for too long. Many of the emotional moments have been timely rescued from descending into melodrama by just the right touch of humor.

    Ah, how the gang has grown since the first eppie. Albeit that this hunt started as one for a treasure, these friends may end up discovering something more valuable about themselves and each other than that which is weighted in gold. Agree, thundie?

  5. geekgal

    So here we are, back to where we started from in episode one. Part of me wanted to see how it ends, the other half is sad that i’ll have to say good bye to a sweet drama.

    Getting past all the eclectic characters, (mis)adventures, treasure mysteries, etc… this drama was about true friendship. I was thoroughly entertained by the group’s journey. I laughed at and with them. But most of all, was touched by the great acting by many involved. Good job, Mixed-Up Investigative Agency. Thank you for another recap, javabeans.

  6. Di

    I haven’t actually watched this episode yet but it’s already bringing tears to my eyes. ;_;
    Ah I’m really gonna miss it when the series ends. ._.

  7. bethany

    something i just realized (as i was flipping through old entries about MIA…) was that the FIRST episode started with the crew in the cavern… as everything began to fall apart. and then it rewinded to where the story started!

    how funny… i totally forgot about that. i guess it’s about to come full circle, huh?

  8. Stawr

    Is this the last episode?!?!

  9. Kiongna

    Anyeong & HUGS dear Javabeans, I just love the way you described the drama in its detail to its entirety – so beautifully bundled together for us to embrace and enjoy! The words you use, your thoughts and insights never cease to make me smile, laugh etc. whenever I’m here!

    I caught an episode of this drama last week ep. 7? 8? on KBSWORLD, it’s what some chingus have been raving about especially Chundang/Chundong aka the Zappy one with lights *chuckles* – I found it pretty hilarious, then was pleasantly surprised as I did a quick visit to your blog and saw you doing the summaries for this drama WOW, what a galore. Today in Malaysia we just had Ep. 10 shown on our KBSWORLD and I couldn’t stand it and rushed here for I just had to know what happened next! Oh my, what an exciting drama with loads of twists and turn and even some “romance” OHHHH I wonder how Min Chul and Hee Kyung will turn out!

    As for Minki shi – *looks around for the bolty one* coast clear for now – he looks like the Korean version of an endearing Singapore Ah Beng!!!!!! LOL LOL LOL oh I hope ze bolty zappy one doesn’t read this or else …OMO she loves Minki and to have him described as an endearing Singaporean Ah Beng – *Take Deep Breaths E* DO NOT Hyperventilate – it is not becoming!!!! She would hunt me down to the other forums if she knew! LOLOL You’ve got to ask the Singaporeans what “AH BENG” means!! LOL *Peace Offering* – I also enjoyed this Dysfunctional Family and how they came together – more so then Cartoon BAD FAMILY with my darling Kim Myung Min! OMO here I go again – got chased down earlier for calling BAD FAMILY – a cartoon drama….OMO *runs*

    Thanks dear Javabeans, I’m so looking forward to read your summary of Ep. 16….and if you could later, I hope you would take on INSOON IS PRETTY next for your ep. by ep. summaries…I saw you have done Ep. 1 (thanks!!)- ohhhhh how I cried and sobbed at dear INSOON’s silent sufferings and anguish…and facing it all with her angelic smile and valiant heart…OMO….I’m awaiting to watch Ep. 2 come this Wednesday….I already got ready my tissues….

    Kamsahamidah….

  10. 10 hjk

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful recaps – current and past shows. You always make my day. I’ve only watched up to episode 12, but I can’t resist reading on while I’m waiting for subs. Your recaps tempt me to watch w/o the subs, but…must-get-sleep-for-work-tomorrow. :( I’ve pulled to many late night marathons – getting old, body deteriorating, must think of health sooner or later.

    #4 tealeaf, I was also impressed with Park Seon Yeon’s writing in Alone in Love, but MIA has it all – cleverness, quirkiness, and lots of both LOL & tear-inducing moments. *clap, clap* to the writer. Although I would love to see a second season, given that this was 2 years in the making, would a sequel be as equally good? I’m afraid to hope…

  11. 11 colors

    Ah, I really enjoy reading the recaps after the episodes. I guess it somehow adds to the fun of watching. Thanks again!

    PS: I’ll play a new game each chance I get: spot the French song.
    This episode’s winner is Salavtaore Adamo’s “Tombe la neige” (1963).

  12. 12 colors

    Salvatore* (sorry) (after thought: they were in the French restaurant in Yong Su’s imagination before the soliloquy, so I guess for once the song sorta makes sense.)

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