Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 3
Time for some love for Do Shik! And Min Ho’s cute glare. The title of this episode is “Mimosa,” in reference to a plant (not the drink) that shrinks when touched. It’s known to be a shy plant, and its nature is allegorical to the case and the suspect in question.
Song of the Day
TEN OST – “Breathe” by Mad Soul Child [download]
Chapter 1: Dog Nose
It’s raining one evening, but all the youngsters of Seoul are out for some drinking and clubbing. In a dark alleyway away from the hubbub of people, a middle-aged man gasps for breath, clutching his abdomen and trying to call someone. When that someone finally picks up, we hear Do Shik’s voice, greeting his old friend and junior. He refers to the dying man as “Dog Nose,” but “Dog Nose” drops the phone before he can answer, and he dies, alone.
Naturally, Do Shik takes the case, with Ye Ri as his assistant. Autopsy reveals the victim – Detective Ahn Sang Taek – was stabbed seven times (not necessarily by a professional), and that he was stabbed after he collapsed based on the angle of his wounds. Do Shik angrily leaves for his friend’s station, and ransacks through his files at his desk. The other police officers from that station verbally protest at him going through other people’s things (instead of, yunno, dragging him out of there), but Do Shik discovers a case file of suicides.
His preliminary investigations lead him to a toxicology lab, where he meets a former colleague. Det. Ahn had apparently approached this colleague with some hair from dead female corpses, asking her to see if there were any GHB residue. There was.
Do Shik smiles – the reason why he gave Det. Ahn the nickname “Dog Nose” was because he was always very good at sniffing out drugs. But this time, he sniffed out something that cost him his life.
Min Ho is busy sparring at a training center, and suffice to say – he’s pretty bad at fighting. He’s knocked down completely, but refuses to lose. He gets back up, charges for his opponent, and the bell rings – Ye Ri needs his help for the Det. Ahn case. Aww, poor Min Ho – it’s hilarious as he falls down on the mat out of defeat and embarrassment.
Ye Ri needs Min Ho’s help because he is close to the officers in the Reference Room, and can get Do Shik the files he needs. Min Ho finds it a HUGE inconvenience because now he has to splash on some cologne. “I’ll forgive you, because you’re cute,” he adds to Ye Ri, before plunging into
the female jungle the Reference Room.
With his honeyed words and a little shoulder massage, Min Ho tries to get access to the suicide case files from his female sunbae. It would get her in a lot of trouble if she handed it over without the families’ consents, but she finally is won over by the promise of “love for a junior” and his sweet-smelling cologne. I love it – we now see Min Ho’s secret weapon!
Ye Ri also requests for Ji Hoon’s help by way of a post-it note. He takes a look at the case file and scoffs, but on his way to the elevator, he can’t help but stab the down button seven times, reflecting Det. Ahn’s wounds.
He later positions himself at the front of a lecture hall, facing police officers who are ready to learn about serial killers. He takes down the prepared slides from the projector and puts up photos of two dead girls in different acts of suicide. Both were cases Det. Ahn was investigating. The challenge for his students? Find what’s wrong in the photos.
Do Shik is at the scene of the crime, and notices that the alleyway has no CCTV cameras around that would give a clear view of the crime. It was a well-chosen place for a murder, and Do Shik notes that the killer must be a local to the neighborhood. He checks out Dog Nose’s phone and presses the speed dial “88.” No one answers.
Meanwhile Ye Ri gets a locksmith to help her open the front door to her home because she forgot the key – or more like, help her break in to Det. Ahn’s home. His house is an absolute mess, with empty soju bottles and dirty jjajangmyun plates littering the floor. She gains insight into Det. Ahn’s character: he’s a workaholic. He’ll eat anything well and do the minimum cleaning just to get by.
In his bedroom Ye Ri notices a flowering plant by the window. It surprises her that there is still a living thing in a house that Det. Ahn seems to rarely come home to. She touches its leaves, and they immediately droop down – it’s a Mimosa pudica plant. Scratched on the pot is “Noli Me Tangere” – “Don’t Touch Me.”
Chapter 2: Noli Me Tangere
Ye Ri brings the plant back to Ji Hoon to check out, and she’s a little disappointed to see that he hasn’t unwrapped the cactus plant she gave him. “It’s too painful when I get pricked,” he says flatly. Heh. Another sunbae-officer barges into the office, angry that Ji Hoon is investigating Det. Ahn’s death when it should have been handled by the Internal Investigation Unit.
Ji Hoon apologizes, but then goes on to make a presentation to his superiors, including Chief Jung, about the case. He shows them the photos of the two dead women, pointing out that they’ve been ruled as suicides. However, his lecture class found inconsistencies: for one girl, if she died through carbon monoxide poisoning from a burning coal briquette outside her car, how is it her shoes aren’t dirty from walking on the mud? And if the other girl hung herself, why does she have strangulation marks around her neck?
The reason why Det. Ahn was investigating these several suicides was because he smelled GHB in them. Someone drugged these victims, and then made the murders look like a suicides. Ji Hoon believes they have a serial killer in their hands. He also presents the plant Det. Ahn had received before he died; the Latin message has religious roots, and Ji Hoon believes they’re dealing with a new type of ritualistic serial killer who is ready to kill again.
That does it – Chief Jung formally assigns the case to Ji Hoon, and takes the sunbae-officer out to lunch to smooth things over.
Meanwhile, Do Shik has instructed Min Ho to bring the strongest officers to a remote riverside. Min Ho thinks that they’re dealing with a narcotics gang, but Do Shik belatedly informs him that they’re dealing with one drug abuser. (Everyone in the car: *GROAN*) But Do Shik has a plan – trap the target’s car in the front and back on the road, and leave him nowhere to run. The strong officers can then take their pipes and start beating the crap out of the car, thus freaking out the target inside. (I didn’t know police could be so abusive…)
Ye Ri supervises several other officers from Internal Investigations as they bring in all the file boxes of three suicide victims Det. Ahn was investigating. They’re so bitter that Special Affairs Team Ten gets to use all of their resources without doing half the work, so Ye Ri soothes them with some cooling beverages. But each victim has a tower of boxes, so Ye Ri is gonna have a long night sorting through all of that by herself…
Back to the lecture hall – Ji Hoon discusses a couple more cases with his police-students of homicides-made-to-look-like-suicides. The officers all note that there is some form of ritualistic manner in all the deaths based on how the bodies are laid out for all to see. It’s as if the murderer wants to be noticed, and yet, because he covers up his crime as a suicide, it seems like he also doesn’t want to be discovered just yet.
Ye Ri’s research goes deep into the night, and she hasn’t gotten very far in finding a common link between the three victims. She spots a CD of The Doors belonging to one of the female victims, and pops it in to keep her awake. It’s “The End,” and Ye Ri notes that the haunting song does not really fit that of a young woman. She gets carried away in the song nevertheless, but then suddenly discovers a common thread: the three victims were all obsessed with Jim Morrison and The Doors in some form or another.
Back to Do Shik: turns out he never wanted to arrest this drug abuser; it’s just that this guy is Det. Ahn’s informant. He figured it out because the drug abuser is number “88” on Det. Ahn’s speed dial. Do Shik had kept his informants as number 88 on his phone, and Det. Ahn had followed his example. The drug abuser knows that Det. Ahn is now dead, but insists he would never have hurt the guy. He also doesn’t know of any GHB-dealer that would kill him over drugs, but there is one dealer called Mr. Mojo who is quite famous for dealing it in Hongdae. His location? At a bar called Doors.
Coincidence much? I think not.
Do Shik heads into the bar and surveys the place. There aren’t many people, and he gets a menu from the quiet, affable bartender/owner. Do Shik asks if the owner knows of Mr. Mojo, but then presumes that the owner overlooks Mr. Mojo’s dealings in exchange for some commission.
He heads to the bathroom, and bumps into a foreigner. The foreigner apologizes in English, but Do Shik takes the opportunity to make it a big deal. He starts fighting with the foreigner, declaring that he’s a detective and that the foreigner should apologize. As soon as Do Shik announces he’s a detective, one of the patrons quietly gets up and leaves. Caught! That’s the suspect Do Shik wants to tail, because he’s probably Mr. Mojo.
But the guy is too fast, and Do Shik loses him as soon as he gets out of the bar. Too bad he can’t get away from the foreigner though, who’s so pissed off now that he beats Do Shik up.
Even though Do Shik returns to the office all bruised up, he does manage to swipe the suspect’s drinks – a water bottle and a beer. He catches Min Ho flirting with another female officer and orders him to go get a DNA and fingerprint analysis on the evidence.
Ye Ri presents her findings on the three victims to the rest of the team. Her research led her to a website that was a fan page for The Doors, but it was closed down because its participants were beginning to exchange information about suicide. This site was most probably where their killer found his targets. The site’s administrator was a drug abuser named Yoon Seung Min. Online alias: Mr. Mojo. At that moment, Min Ho’s “friend” at the lab confirms that the DNA and fingerprints on the bottles belonged to Yoon Seung Min. The timing could not have been more perfect.
Ye Ri then cross checks the list of victims whose cases were ruled as suicide, with the list of participants on the website. They match. Looks like Yoon Seung Min/Mr. Mojo is the killer.
They track down his location to a tiny basement apartment, and quickly enter the empty home. Do Shik touches a cup of tea, notes that it’s still warm, and quickly yells that Seung Min must have just left his place. Him and several officers rush out on to the street, and split up in search of him. Seung Min is actually waiting around the corner, watching them look for him. He quickly walks off in the opposite direction unseen.
Only Ye Ri remains inside the home, where it’s like a shrine to Jim Morrison, and spots Morrison’s biography. She sends the book and her report to Ji Hoon: Seung Min had wanted to commit suicide as well, but failed several times because he lacked courage. She posits that he may have killed others as a way of gaining courage to kill himself eventually. A search through his apartment reveals the murder weapon used to kill Det. Ahn.
Do Shik, Min Ho, and several officers stake out outside of Seung Min’s home in the hopes of catching him. Ye Ri is inside, still inspecting his things, when she notices a calendar with certain dates circled. Those dates match the dates of the past suicides. Today’s date is also circled, and Ye Ri frantically knocks on Min Ho’s car door to get his attention. “We shouldn’t be here!” she cries. “Yoon Seung Min is going to commit another crime!” Just then, they hear a report from the police station that someone just jumped from a roof in Yeouido.
It’s pouring by the time the three of them arrive at the scene of the crime. They check the body under the sheet – it’s Seung Min. Today was not a day of another murder, but of his own suicide. With the suspect dead, is the case now unsolved?
Thankfully, Ji Hoon disagrees, and he calls Min Ho from his office requesting that they check for GHB in Seung Min’s corpse. Ji Hoon believes that there was someone else who survived and witnessed the suicide. Do Shik scoffs; what could Ji Hoon possibly know while sitting in his office? But then, they notice a set of footprints leading away from the roof in the stairwell. It couldn’t have belonged to any of the officers, so it’s very likely that those footprints belong to the real killer.
When they reconvene in the office, Min Ho confirms that toxicology found GHB in Seung Min’s corpse. They wonder how Ji Hoon knew that Seung Min wasn’t the real murderer. Ji Hoon says he found the Morrison biography in the other three victims’ belongings, and that there was a message on the last page of each book: “I will wait for you by the door. -Mr. Mojo.” The writing is old-fashioned, because some of the words no longer conform with the Hangul spelling revisions made in 1988. It indicates that their suspect must be someone who’s a lot older.
Ye Ri also notes that she thinks all the victims wanted to commit suicide. She went through their online posts, and it was very specific on how, when, and where they wanted to die. That means, the killer is actually just someone who helped them commit suicide once they were ready; it was assisted murder. Det. Ahn was probably killed because he got too close.
Photos of the footprint returns to the office, and Ji Hoon questions why the front part of the shoe made a mark when going down the stairs. He had expected that they would find the heel part of the footprint. Do Shik quietly digests all the information, and then leaves the office. Ji Hoon chases after him – shouldn’t Do Shik report to him first if he wants to do something on his own? Nope – Do Shik just wants to be left alone.
Chapter 4: The End
Do Shik ends up back at Doors bar, where it’s mostly empty, and asks for a strong drink. He complains about working so hard, and then getting chewed out by a boss who’s younger than him – what has the world come to!? Shot after shot, Do Shik continues to guzzle down alcohol long after the straggling patrons leave. The owner brings down the gate and marks the bar as closed. When he returns, Do Shik remarks that his coat is wet; the owner must have gone out during the day in the rain. If so, isn’t he tired from being up all day, and then working all night?
In the meantime at the office, Ji Hoon puzzles over the case while Min Ho and Ye Ri twiddle their thumbs. Ji Hoon figures out that Mr. Mojo, who will wait for the victims at the door, must still be someone at the bar Doors. He looks at his watch; it’s late. He has Min Ho call for a police squad, and they race over to the bar.
Do Shik is completely drunk, unable to stand on his own two feet. The owner tells him to take it easy, and Do Shik figures out that this must be how Det. Ahn died too. The owner admits as much, but he says he got Seung Min to stab Det. Ahn instead. Once he got some drugs into Seung Min, it was easy to convince the fella to just do the deed.
The effects of the drug taking effect, Do Shik drowsily asks why the owner did it. He says that he enjoys killing people and watching them die. Since there are many who want to commit suicide, he feels like a hero in helping them get to heaven faster. He believes that if Det. Ahn hadn’t come sniffing around investigating, he would have eventually made his way over because he wanted to die. The owner then puts on a dark jacket and opens his drawer full of knives. Selecting one, he slowly makes his way over to Do Shik, who has his head down on the bar counter.
Suddenly, Do Shik’s head pops up, and he whips out a recorder. “Confession recorded!” he declares triumphantly. He laughs at how cowardly the owner is, since he can’t kill someone unless they’re drugged up and blacked out. A flashback reveals that Do Shik had wisely tossed out several shots of alcohol when the owner wasn’t looking, and then just acted as if he were drunk.
Do Shik pulls off his jacket, and angrily says that he does not believe Det. Ahn was ever depressed or suicidal, because he himself taught that detective how to endure and live. He knows his junior better than anyone else. OK then – the owner unzips his jacket – it’s now war!
Somehow, it cracked me up more to see two old ahjussis beating each other up, lifting one over his head and smashing the body down on tables. Oh – and Do Shik is on the losing end, getting his ass whipped by someone who looks a good deal older than him. At one point, Do Shik takes a second to gather his anger and strength to land at least one decent punch. Eventually he manages to pin the owner down, and punches the living daylights out of him.
However, the owner grabs a pocket knife from his pocket, and then stabs Do Shik in the abdomen.
Min Ho and Ye Ri finally arrive at the bar, where they find Do Shik sitting on the floor and clutching his bleeding abdomen. He urges them to go after the owner, who’s run away, before he goes and kills someone else. Min Ho and the officers race through the streets of Hongdae, and eventually track the owner down as he crosses a bridge. They corner him, and immediately he whips out his knife.
He steps ever closer to the bridge railing, and Min Ho slowly inches forward. He puts down the handcuffs as a way of showing peace, but the owner backs away too much and topples over the railing.
He manages to grab one of the bars, and Min Ho quickly grabs hold of his hand. The owner is too scared to die himself, but Min Ho is losing grasp of the owner’s hand. Miraculously, Do Shik appears with a cane; he orders the owner to grab it, and they will then pull him up. “You don’t have the courage to die,” he tells the owner. “So before I push you down, hold on to it!”
They pull up the owner, and he is quickly arrested. The ambulance arrives and quickly treat Do Shik for his wounds. Ji Hoon finally arrives (once all the dirty work is done) and takes note of Do Shik’s condition: “You said you really wanted to beat him up and catch him yourself, so I let you go… but did you even get to punch the guy?”
Do Shik: “I show my wounds externally. The bastard is the one who shows his wounds internally – he won’t live long.”
Heehee. Ji Hoon wants Do Shik to honor the promise that he will acknowledge him as the leader now. Grudgingly, Do Shik manages to say, “Director Yeo… I can’t say ‘sir’.” Ji Hoon smiles and leaves, adding, “Good work, sunbae!”
Awww – now the bonds of brotherhood are formed.
Do Shik then deletes Dog Nose’s number from his speed dial, wishing him farewell. Ji Hoon heads back to the bar and puts on The Doors’ “The End” on the record player. He takes a long look at a photo that we never see. And another officer spills some gossip to Min Ho about Ji Hoon: the reason why Ji Hoon quit the police force long ago was because he killed his woman.
I knew it!!
I am so sucked into this drama. I love how we are learning about each character, so I hope we’ll gain some more insight in Ye Ri and Min Ho in upcoming episodes. Do Shik is painted as an intensely loyal character who is willing to get down and dirty to draw a suspect out his shell. Ji Hoon is ridiculously twisted – taking pleasure in getting into the mind of a killer, and finding each crime a game. But he also has the ability to think two steps ahead of his colleagues so that he can maintain a broader scope of things.
This case was relatively straightforward, as I was able to pick up that assisted murder was going on rather than serial killings. Just to recap: The real killer seems to be the owner, and he just Seung Min/Mr. Mojo do the dirty work for him at times. The one thing this episode has was drawing similarities between the plants and the characters. For one, the similarities are obvious between Ji Hoon and the cactus (they’re both prickly and shouldn’t be bothered with), but what I like is that he’s also a Mimosa pudica plant. He should not be touched, and does not want to be touched. And curiosity will kill the cat – in this case, Ye Ri. As the credits roll, we see Ye Ri returning to Ji Hoon’s office in the late evening to unwrap the cactus – but she gets pricked herself and draws blood. It’s a clear warning: some things are better left untouched. She will bleed for him if she digs any deeper into his past, but we don’t know about Min Ho. Hence, I am more interested in watching Min Ho discover the truth about his boss.
I await more twisted cases!