Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 7
I liked this episode. There was movement in not only the treasure hunt but also the personal lives of several of our characters, and that gave the episode a bit more emotional depth than it has had so far. It’s quite interesting how this drama is good at eliciting great nuanced emotional beats from its side characters (like Jo Man Gi’s bitter son in episode 2). Normally, secondary (even tertiary) characters aren’t given this much development, since they’re just there to move plot along, but I’m drawn to Handsome Mystery Stranger (with whom you can never tell what’s truth and what’s acting) and even the day player of the episode, Kim Junsu. I give credit to the tight writing of the series. (So far, I’ve felt Mixed-up Investigative Agency is entertaining, though not quite a must-see — but it IS very well thought-out and well-written.)
SONG OF THE DAY
Jaurim – “Freesia.” A softer side to the usually harder-rocking alternative band from their “Flower Project” single. [ zShare download ]
CASE NO. 7: “The Ratio of Lies to Gold is 7:3”
The delivery guy is brought in for questioning by gangster Kang Seung Ho (or, as our band of misfits calls him, “007”) while mysterious handsome stranger Baek Min Chul listens. When asked what he did with the handbag he stole, the delivery guy makes up a plausible explanation: He took the cash, gave the expensive makeup away to girls who loved him for it, sold the bag to a guy he knows… and there was some old map-looking paper that he threw away.
But Baek Min Chul is sharp, and he tells the guy coolly, menacingly: “It was a pretty good lie. Seven truths and three lies.” But he forgot to look his interrogator in the eye. So he’s got one final chance to tell the truth. Delivery Guy gulps.
Our treasure-hunting friends find a new place to store their map: in a boring, musty atlas kept on a back shelf in the manhwa store. Eun-jae suggests a bank vault, but Yong-su says this is probably safer (going to a bank vault would only draw attention to themselves).
They decide their next move should be to find the third map, and disperse to conduct research. Eun-jae reads up on Emperor Gojong’s history in the library —
Mu-yeol tours the palace that had been home to Emperor Gojong’s later days, which underwent extensive construction during his tenure (ergo, lots of hiding-place possibilities) —
Yong-su speculates that the only people who knew about the gold were Gojong, his financial advisor, and the one in charge of the palace’s restoration. He also works on buttering up the old treasure-hunting grandpa in hopes of enlisting his help —
Discovering that one rich man had collected a majority of the emperor’s belongings, which are housed in his personal museum, Hee-kyung locates the now-deceased man’s son.
She observes as Kim Junsu, a womanizer with expensive tastes, goes on date after date with beautiful women:
(Hee-kyung notices Yong-su’s strange reaction and withdrawn demeanor after learning the guy’s name. She guesses correctly: “Was your brother’s name Kim Junsu?” She reminds him of his reaction to Eun-jae’s lie about her brother’s kidnapping — he’d said that someone who’d lost a sibling would react to the mere mention of the lost one’s name. Side note: Wouldn’t it be cool if Mystery Stranger were Yong-su’s long-lost brother?)
Since it’s likely the third map is in the museum, they decide they must insinuate themselves into Junsu’s acquaintance to get a better look. Hee-kyung leads them in a plan. First, they stake out the pier by Junsu’s yacht to stage a run-in.
Seeing Junsu approach with yet a different woman on his arm, they spring into action. As they make their way to board another boat (Eun-jae’s, perhaps?), Hee-kyung passes by and says mysteriously, “The inheritance from your father is cursed.”
That certainly captures Junsu’s attention, and he turns, calling out to her, “Are you talking to me?” Interest piqued, Junsu invites the three of them onto his yacht to continue their conversation.
Hee-kyung spins a story about Junsu’s deceased father, and how there is a curse among his possessions. The longer Junsu keeps his father’s things, the more unhappiness will overwhelm him.
When Eun-jae gets up to go to the restroom, she notices a peculiarity. Despite Junsu’s seeming willingness to buy into Hee-kyung’s story of spirits and curses, his yacht has a prominent Jesus-on-the-cross plaque on the wall, and he’s got a cross necklace.
Eun-jae interrupts Hee-kyung’s story and shows the cross to Junsu: If he’s Christian, why is he pretending to believe Hee-kyung’s story? Hee-kyung tries to switch gears, saying God has been known to cast curses as well, like in The Exorcist —
— but Junsu admits cavalierly that he thought the story was fun, and that he was intending on trying to seduce Eun-jae. (Which does NOT make Mu-yeol happy. Or Junsu’s date. Or Hee-kyung, for that matter, who’s just been embarrassed in front of everyone.)
But oddly enough, Eun-jae isn’t all that disturbed. She makes plans to meet Junsu on the weekend, using it as an opportunity to tour his museum. Despite Mu-yeol’s howls of protestation, Eun-jae calmly tells him that she felt a sense of similarity to Junsu.
Hee-kyung receives a request from a new “client” for her fortune-telling services, and finds to her pleasant surprise that her client is her Handsome Mystery Man, who wants to know about something he’s been seeking for a long time. (A series of flashbacks shows Hee-kyung spending the past few days glued to her phone waiting for his phone call. Ironically, her very eagerness to talk to Baek Min-chul causes her to miss his phone calls.)
She does her tarot card reading, reporting that he’s been looking for something for a long time, something others find unimportant but is extremely important to him. She concludes with a warning: It’s bad for him. He should give it up immediately.
Min-chul segues into subtle flirtation, saying he’d met a woman a few days ago and would like to know if he has a chance if he were to ask her out. Hee-kyung practically melts. Or throws herself at him. She’d like to do both. Instead, they go out for wine, and Hee-kyung gets drunk. Min-chul takes advantage of the opportunity to ask her questions about the corpse in the wall. Hee-kyung spills the info about their map, as well as their encounters with “007” and the fat lady private investigator they’ve hired to look into 007’s background.
Across town, Eun-jae tours Junsu’s museum. He’s only interested in flirting, while Eun-jae is her typical aloof self, only interested in looking through Emperor Gojong’s texts.
Outside, Mu-yeol tries to contain his frustration over Eun-jae’s meeting with the virtual stranger. Obviously he’s not very good at it. (Lee Minki’s really throwing himself into Mu-yeol’s goofy persona. I bet he’s having a ball playing the infatuated wacko.)
Junsu notices that a particular book has caught Eun-jae’s interest and offers it to her — for an exchange. At her stoic response, he asks if she’s afraid of him (or rather, why she isn’t), like a cat playing with a mouse. He tells her calmly that the world’s quite unfair, and he’d somehow ended up on the good side of the coin — rich father, good brain, good looks.
Junsu: “When I first saw you, I thought you might be like me. Was I wrong?”
Junsu: “I wanted to make things a little worse for you, give you unhappiness, or a setback. An everlasting gloom. I wanted to show you that’s how the world would be a little more fair. From someone who figured that out first.”
Eun-jae: “What misfortune have you encountered?”
Junsu smoothly transitions into playboy mode —
Junsu: “That such a lovable man like me has a shortened lifespan. Considering how pitiful I am, how about spending the night together?”
Eun-jae: “When I first saw you, I thought we were similar too. Another person who can’t admit when they’re scared. If you’re scared, say so.”
Dropping his façade for the briefest moment —
Junsu: “I have no one to tell. Do you?”
For some reason, his last line gets to me, the way Junsu gets real for a second and actually looks grim, and scared, and alone.
On the drive home, Mu-yeol rants about how risky it was for Eun-jae to be alone with a strange, potentially dangerous man. Doesn’t she have any fear? Eun-jae admits: “I was afraid.” (Despite not seeming to reciprocate Mu-yeol’s feelings even a little, it’s significant that Eun-jae DOES have someone to admit her fears to, unlike Junsu.)
Now that Hee-kyung has told Min-chul about their private investigator lady, he has the two gangster subordinates take care of that situation. They deliver a package containing pictures of the woman’s daughter, scaring her so badly that she cuts off contact with the misfit crew…
…who are staking out 007 as he meets with another associate.
007 shows the older man the treasure map, and when the two men drive off, the three treasure-hunting friends follow. As they tail 007’s car, Yong-su gets a strange feeling about the scenario. With their sixth senses alerting them that something is awry, they immediately turn around and head back home.
His uneasiness is well-founded, because at that very moment, the gangsters are inside Yong-su’s store, planting secret cameras. Min-chul acts as lookout.
Hee-kyung arrives home early, and in order to distract her from interrupting the intruders, Min-chul intercepts her. She’s happy to chat with him, unaware that he’s using her to buy time for the camera-planting gangsters to finish the job.
It’s too bad, because Hee-kyung does really like him. Although he’s using her, and is way out of her league (she’s simple at heart; he’s refined and sophisticated), he doesn’t seem to hate her company. Min-chul looks like he enjoys her funny antics, even if his humor sometimes comes at her expense.
Hee-kyung shivers, and explains it’s not the cold. Rather, it’s been said that when you unexpectedly get goosebumps, a ghost is next to you.
Min-chul: “Do you really see ghosts?”
Hee-kyung: “When I was younger, I did. Back then, it was like someone was speaking into my ear. Sometimes it would be a child’s voice, sometimes an old man’s, whether anyone was around or not. I had this friend Kyung Mi, and once told her, ‘Your mom and the rice miller met under the bridge.’ That caused such an uproar. Kyung Mi’s mom moved out, and her brother called me out and hit me. After that, I told myself I wouldn’t tell anyone about the things I heard. Of course, then my entire body would ache.”
But, the voices went away in junior high school. Min-chul asks if she misses it:
Hee-kyung: “Back then, my parents wouldn’t even look me in the eye. When the voices went away, I felt so unburdened. But now, I miss it just a little.”
Hee-kyung: “Because I’d like to know if a certain man likes me or not. What do you think?”
Min-chul avoids answering, taking his leave instead, since he’s gotten the message that the intruders have finished their job.
The gangsters use the hidden camera to observe as Mu-yeol, Yong-su, and Eun-jae dash back to the store (Hee-kyung has no idea why they’re anxious). Immediately, they head for the semi-concealed book containing the map, and everyone breathes in relief to find it’s still there.
But now the gangsters know where the map is. And so, it’s no surprise (to us) when the next day, Eun-jae returns to check on the book, because she’s been unable to shake her uneasiness from the day before. She goes to the hiding place (Mu-yeol and Hee-kyung laze away, unworried), and announces: “It’s gone!”
The ending bit this time is similar to the scene where Hee-kyung does Min-chul’s tarot reading… only this time, the theme is love. More specifically, Hee-kyung’s lurve of her handsome rescuer.
And here’s what Hee-kyung really wanted to foretell, rather than all that boring mapquest (hehe) stuff: