Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 15
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??!?
SONG OF THE DAY
Rumble Fish – “그곳으로” (To That Place) [ zShare download ]
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.)
- Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 14
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