Mixed-up Investigative Agency: Case 8
Ah, the great schism. Our band of misfits is, very temporarily, the disbanded misfits. Aw.
Some pretty strong acting, mixed with angst and betrayal and byootiful scenery. Oh yeah, and the mysterious backstory of Eun-jae’s childhood trauma is revealed!
SONG OF THE DAY
Brazilian Taco – “Man.” How could I NOT dig a (Latin-inflected Korean hip-hop/pop) group named Brazilian Taco? [ zShare download ]
CASE NO. 8: “An Old Lizard Doesn’t Do Stupid Things”
The four friends confront the loss of their map with puzzlement. How could it have gone missing? It was there yesterday. When Eun-jae asks if Hee-kyung saw anything strange, since she was the first one back last night, Hee-kyung thinks of running into Min-chul, but brushes it aside and says no. On top of that, their private investigator lady has been out of touch.
Mu-yeol wonders if Eun-jae will leave now that they’ve lost their map, and bemoans the loss — just when he was starting to make progress with her! (Ah, lovestruck delusion.)
Eun-jae tells Mu-yeol that she’s suspicious about Hee-kyung’s date. A neighborhood boy told her he saw Hee-kyung talking with Min-chul the night the map went missing. Why would Hee-kyung lie? Furthermore, isn’t it strange that on the day the rest of them were out, the night their map went missing, that man just happened to reappear at their building?
She has Mu-yeol and Yong-su follow Hee-kyung on her next date with Min-chul to spy on the couple. (Like the inner man-children they are, both guys cringe horribly at the the disgusting thought that the date between the “old folks” might get a little too romantic.)
Hee-kyung asks Min-chul about the ugly scar on his right hand. He usually says it’s from a car accident, but the truth is worse. As a child, he’d been an outsider because his father was imprisoned for killing three men, and in grade school, the other kids poured scalding water over his hand.
His face takes on a saddened, faraway look, which brings out Hee-kyung’s nurturing, sympathetic side. It’s not completely clear whether Min-chul’s being sincere or if this moment of vulnerability is merely a part of his act, but whatever the case is, Hee-kyung gets up to comfort him, telling him, “It’s not your fault. You’re not a bad person. Whatever your father did has no relation to you. … Someone should have held you like this when you were a child.”
Min-chul appears to be moved by her gesture (is his reaction real? is it fake?) and suddenly leans in for an impromptu kiss. Their observers immediately cover their eyes in horrified shock, “ew”-ing at the kissy-faced sight.
Back at headquarters, Yong-su and Mu-yeol report to Eun-jae: They didn’t find anything suspicious about the date. Eun-jae thinks Hee-kyung may be being used, but Yong-su says if that were true, Hee-kyung would’ve been dumped the moment Min-chul got the map.
Hee-kyung hears them talking and barges in to yell at them in indignation — how dare they follow her? How dare they spy on her date?
Eun-jae speaks coolly and logically, explaining her misgivings about Min-chul. Not realizing that she’s just put fire to the powder keg that is Hee-kyung’s emotional fury, Eun-jae asks if there was anything suspicious, saying, “Don’t get worked up and think carefully.” Hee-kyung takes extreme offense, and turns on Eun-jae, cursing at her and saying all sorts of extreme insults. Taken aback at Hee-kyung’s vitriol, Eun-jae asks why she’s swearing at her, and Hee-kyung spits out hatefully, “Does that make you feel bad? Want more? I know tons of swear words, filthy swears that you’ll never be able to erase once you’ve heard. Don’t you kid around with me.”
Eun-jae: “What have I done that’s so wrong?”
Hee-kyung: “That’s right, you bitch! You don’t even know what you’ve done wrong, do you?! I didn’t expect friendship or loyalty from the likes of you, but you shouldn’t stab me in the back! You think you’re so superior, huh? What did you say when you first came here? Your brother was kidnapped? And you never apologized for it — and you know why?! Because you looked down on us. Isn’t that it?! You thought, ‘Why would I apologize to such losers?’ didn’t you? Don’t fool yourself, everyone’s the same! What’s so great about you?! You were lucky to be born rich — what makes you so wonderful? Looking down at us from 100 meters up in the air — did you think we wouldn’t notice? You have no friends, do you? When you take your wedding photos, how many friends do you think’ll show up? It’s not because you’re so superior that you have no friends, it’s because you’re screwed up, you horrible bitch! What, you wanna fight me? I’ll grab your hair and sweep you aside with a broom, you bitch!”
Eun-jae tries to maintain her composure, but it’s clear that Hee-kyung’s hateful words have affected her.
(It’s weird, how Hee-kyung’s words make total sense to me, and I don’t disagree, and her emotions are strong and raw and ought to be sympathetic, but I’m on Team Eun-jae. It’s a little like lashing out at the weakling — Hee-kyung was wronged, perhaps, but Eun-jae’s also right in her concerns. Hee-kyung’s overreacting and way out of control and blaming Eun-jae for things she couldn’t possibly have controlled, like being born into wealth. It’s not Eun-jae’s fault Hee-kyung wasn’t born rich, but it IS Hee-kyung’s fault she cares so damn much about money. And maybe it’s because I tend to react more like Eun-jae than Hee-kyung that I can sympathize with her more closely in this episode. But all in all, the scene was well-acted and intense, and I dislike Hee-kyung immensely for it, so it was a job well done.)
Elsewhere, Min-chul watches the confrontation via hidden camera with a smile.
The next morning, Hee-kyung’s a little calmer, and Eun-jae’s words ring in her ears. Despite trying to fight it, she starts to wonder about Min-chul’s motives. She’s still annoyed with Yong-su and Mu-yeol, but informs them of her next date so they can spy on her.
The guys sit at a distance while Hee-kyung nervously tries to broach the topic that’s been bothering her. Min-chul interrupts with something to say first: “Let’s stop seeing each other.”
She asks why, and he answers that he has no reason to see her anymore. Hee-kyung: “You had a reason for meeting me? … Is it because of the map?” Min-chul is brutally honest and he says yes. She wonders why he asked her out even after taking the map, and he answers cruelly: “Because once I’d met you, I fell for you. [Sneering] Would it make you feel better if I said that?”
Min-chul leaves, and Mu-yeol takes off after him to give him a good beating for hurting Hee-kyung. Mu-yeol gets in a few solid punches, but Min-chul holds his own, walking away in disgust.
Hurting and humiliated, Hee-kyung takes a long, painful walk home, while Yong-su follows behind at a distance. Back in front of their building, Yong-su tries to comfort her, telling her that there was an old lizard (from a comic, of course) that never made any stupid mistakes, and therefore found life tedious and boring. You’ve gotta experience some disappointment and pain, and do stupid things, to make life seem dynamic and worth living.
The three friends settle tentatively into a semblance of their former camaraderie.
But Eun-jae has decided she’s done with treasure-hunting. Perhaps it’s a result of Hee-kyung’s abuse, and perhaps it’s because she finds the task futile without their map. Maybe it’s a combination of both. Whatever the reason, she’s moving out and wants nothing to do with the gold hunt anymore.
As she leaves, Hee-kyung faces Eun-jae despite her embarrassment, and tells her, “I swear, I truly didn’t tell him where the map was.” Eun-jae just looks at her and says stiffly, “That doesn’t have anything to do with me anymore.” Hee-kyung asks about her panic attacks — how will she get over them? Eun-jae answers that there must be another cure.
Mu-yeol says his awkward goodbye (“Please be happy. Meeting you, I was happy, so you have to be happy too.”) and Eun-jae hesitates for a moment before leaving. She doesn’t seem to truly want to leave the others, and yet she doesn’t quite belong with them either. And so, without a reason to stay, she returns to her mansion and her life from before.
Over the next few days, Mu-yeol mopes in Eun-jae’s vacated rooftop apartment, wallowing in his depression of losing her (not that he ever “had” her).
A package arrives, addressed to Eun-jae from rich-boy Junsu from the previous episode, who’s sent her Emperor Gojong’s texts with a friendly note. Excited to have a reason to call Eun-jae, Mu-yeol tells her he’ll deliver the package, but she cuts him off and tells him, “Those have nothing to do with me anymore. You may do whatever you want with them.”
Eun-jae resumes her panic-attack treatments — she’d stopped them during the time she was treasure-hunting. The therapist begins the session by lulling Eun-jae into a hypnotic state, and telling her to think back to her happiest moment. Eun-jae answers that it was in the lawyer’s office, when she was 19 years old, knowing that as soon as she was 20, the age of legal majority, she’d be freed of her oppressive guardians and come into her independence.
The therapist asks her to go back to her unhappiest moment, and Eun-jae recalls being ten years old, at her father’s funeral.
The next question (“When did you first see the gold?”) spins Eun-jae off into a longer flashback. She’s seven years old and on her way to her dad’s workplace (at the Gold Building) because she wants to show him a pretty ring she made. She arrives at the rooftop and hears him approaching, so she hides in order to surprise him.
Three men arrive, arguing over Jo Man Gi’s theft of the map. Someone else is coming up the stairs, and the three men turn to see who it is.
Real-life Eun-jae starts to fidget and shake in her chair, locked in her hypnotic memory, starting to cry. The therapist tries to reassure her that she’s safe, that she’s only thinking back to the past, but Eun-jae doesn’t register that.
Young Eun-jae emerges from her rooftop hiding place as Current-day Eun-jae shouts in her reverie, “Don’t look! Don’t come out!” The little girl keeps going, looking over the edge, to see a young man lying on the concrete, having fallen down the stairs. He tries to move slowly, while a man’s hand creeps up to his throat —
Eun-jae’s memory dissolves and she cries out in agitation, crying and panicking, shouting, “Dad! Save me! No… Dad!”
The therapist tries to end the hypnosis, but Eun-jae’s too far gone in her panicked state, and doesn’t hear her. She bolts up from her chair, still locked in her memories, screaming in horror, and collapses on the floor —
The gangsters watch the recording from the hidden cameras, and gulp nervously as they hear what can only be female-sounding, um, sexy noises coming from the bathroom door. The guys wait eagerly as the door swings open, anticipating an exciting sight — and then the simpleton gangster on the right grabs his eyes when Mu-yeol, not some sexy girly-girl, steps out after a shower, flexing his muscles and letting his towel drop to the floor.