Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 8
It’s the beginning of the end! Honestly, ever since I started recapping this drama, all I ever heard about was this end. Thankfully, everyone’s been really awesome and haven’t spoiled a single thing, though I’ve gleaned that it’s an open-ended kind of ending. So here we go – what confusing are we plunging forth into!?
Chapter 1: Deja Vu
Ji Hoon runs through a darkened motel, chasing after the dark shadows of a suspect. They race down the halls, up and down the stairs. Ji Hoon feels like he’s seen this suspect before, that he knows him without ever meeting him. He runs up to room 101 and opens the door. The hotel room is empty.
He catches sight of the suspect again and makes chase. The suspect reaches a dead end, and Ji Hoon inches forward, gun raised, ready for the kill. No matter what case he’s ever worked on, he always feels like this particular suspect is the criminal in all of them. Now he can find out who this suspect is. Slowly, the suspect puts his arms up and turns around – and Ji Hoon stares right into his own face.
The alarm rings, and Ji Hoon wakes from his nightmare. His phone is ringing as well; a new case has landed on his team.
It’s a case we’ve all seen before – the Tape Murder Case. However, it’s not at all similar to the twin sisters’ version of it. This time, the case looks like it was done by the original culprit from seven years ago. When Ji Hoon arrives at the scene of the crime, his expression becomes deathly pale. The body is found in the hotel room of his nightmares; the only possible suspect is the one that Ji Hoon chases in his dreams – the original serial murderer.
To note – when he first encountered the tape murder case in episode 1, he was excited at the prospect of meeting his foe; this time, he’s not.
The M.E. confirms as much when she begins her autopsy. There’s no blood on the tape that ties her face, and the fingers are all intact. The victim died from suffocation. She mentions the cases from seven years ago, saying that it could definitely be the same culprit, and that’s when Chief Jung pulls Ji Hoon away for a quick word. Do Shik asks, “What do you mean by the cases seven years ago?” The M.E. replies, “I don’t know much except there were two cases like this. I’m a medical examiner, not a detective.”
However, she avoids everyone’s gaze. She knows more than she’s letting on, but she’s keeping Ji Hoon’s secret safe.
Do Shik assigns Min Ho to look up all the tape murder cases that occurred seven years ago. He’s got bad vibes from this, considering that their leader is definitely hiding something from them. Meanwhile, Chief Jung is making tea for Ji Hoon in his office, reassuring him that he’ll get the killer this time.
But Ji Hoon is a broken man. He has no faith that he can catch the killer, feeling that today’s case is merely a taunting message from him. “I’m not a monster,” Ji Hoon declares, his eyes red. “I just wanted to be a monster because I thought I could catch the suspect then.” I have to say, I bet working with his team and getting to know them has softened his cold-hearted, methodical ways.
Amazingly, Min Ho finds nothing related to the tape murder cases from seven years ago. Everyone cries in despair – where’s Ji Hoon when you need him!?
Well, he’s actually back at the motel. He’s forced to face his fears and slowly makes his way up to the crime scene, room 101. He slowly removes the yellow tape from the door, but freezes at the last one. Instead of going through the door, Ji Hoon decides to not go in at all. It appears he doesn’t want to study the scene so obsessively; he knows he won’t find anything, so there is no reason for him to search any further for evidence. And since he doesn’t want to be a monster he so hates, he’s not going to go in and try to figure out the mind of the killer.
Meanwhile his team is trying to get into his mind. They wait around Ji Hoon’s office (which is completely cleaned out), trying to contact him but to no avail. They rack their brains desperately on who must know about the case, since it’s not listed in the database. Suddenly Min Ho remembers the day he saw Ji Hoon put a CD away in his personal cabinets. There were boxes all marked “F” and the year.
That’s where all the old tape murder cases are being stored.
The team goes through all of the files, CDs, photographs, and booklets that Ji Hoon stored. There’s flyers for missing people, and photographs of crime scenes. Min Ho sees a photo of a body out in the fields by the river, and suddenly he is thrown back into his memories…
Chapter 2: Fridays
Min Ho the Student rides his bike through town and goes along a riverside path. He spots some police cars and quickly goes up to it as close as possible. He begins snapping pictures of the crime scene, taking pictures of the police there and the body lying on the ground.
An officer catches him and tells him to bugger off. However, Min Ho asks if this case is part of a serial homicide. After all, a few months ago there was a similar case under a nearby bridge, and it happened on a Friday too. Hmm – so that’s why the boxes are labeled “F”…
From a young age, it’s apparent that Min Ho wants to be a detective. He has a fascination with gruesome crimes, but he skips school often as well. When he arrives home, his father wants to speak to him. He reminds Min Ho that today is Friday, and yet it seems Min Ho broke his promise to visit his mother’s grave. Min Ho didn’t forget his promise, but he just didn’t want to go. After all, dead people have no feelings.
Ouch – his father flinches but he encourages Min Ho to join him next time. However, Min Ho would rather hear the truth. He’s been told since a young age that his mother died from an accident. Now that he’s older, he’s realized that his mother was murdered, and detectives had come to the funeral. His mother was another victim of a taxi driver-serial killer.
His father’s hand shakes violently, and he shatters a glass of alcohol on the floor. He’s unable to control the shaking, cutting himself as he picks up the shards. “You don’t have to know everything,” he tells Min Ho. “Sometimes it’s better not to know.” His father has been living through hell since Min Ho’s mother died, so Min Ho refuses to end up like him. He will be stronger than his father, and he will find a way to get out of this depressive life they lead.
He rushes out of the house and bikes back to the scene of the crime, pondering over the culprit and the victim. He’s sure that another murder will occur. What’s scary is, his determined face makes him look like a young Yeo Ji Hoon.
Chapter 3: Face
The next day, Min Ho surprises his classmate by going to school. As they board their bus, another woman gets off. It’s Ye Ri! With longer hair! I love that they all probably could have met years ago, and just didn’t. Ye Ri isn’t her present cheerful self; instead, she looks quite the melancholy college student. She takes a passport picture at an old-fashioned photo studio, and the photographer advises her to smile a bit more. Otherwise, she’ll just be as depressing as his favorite singer Edith Piaf.
As Ye Ri heads back to campus, she passes by a mother desperately handing out flyers to passersby. It’s a missing person’s flyer for her daughter, and while Ye Ri and many others take it from her, they barely give it a glance before throwing it away in a trash can.
She returns to her dorm room, where she and her boyfriend have just finished making love. With her back turned to him, she tells him about her innate ability to tell when people are lying. In middle school, all her classmates thought it was cool when she could tell the teachers were lying. As she got older, more people became distant, and avoided her. With that in mind, she then asks her boyfriend how long it’s been since he’s had another girl.
Instead of responding, he merely gets dressed to leave. Ye Ri refuses to look at him, silently holding her pain within and letting one tear fall out of her eye. Before he leaves, her boyfriend says, “I’m not leaving you because of another woman. I’m leaving you because you’re scary.” Oof… but it’s also true; Ye Ri of the past is kind of a depressing person to be around.
Once alone, Ye Ri gives herself a little pep talk in front of the mirror. She can get through this; she’s strong. She’s experienced all this before. But she knows that’s a lie within herself, and breaks the mirror with her hair dryer.
Ye Ri returns to the photo studio to pick up her photos. The photographer recognizes her as his little “Edith Piaf,” and advises her to learn how to smile, or never return to his studio again. Hehe – he’s a bit of an oddball. Ye Ri doesn’t really take his words to heart and just goes back to school. She overhears some girls talking about the missing girl. Apparently that girl was also a student at the same college, but was found murdered. That’s why the mother stopped distributing flyers.
Ye Ri goes to a nearby garbage can, expecting to see all the flyers there, but it’s all empty. She can’t even remember how the missing girl looked like because the picture showed her expressionless face. Ye Ri realizes that if she also keeps up an expressionless face, no one is going to remember her because she doesn’t look remarkable. She walks off, smiling a little more widely this time; she’ll learn to smile every day, even if it ends up just being a mask.
HMMM… so Ye Ri-now isn’t the real Ye Ri?! It’s just a lie…?
Chapter 4: Woman
Since we’re revisiting what happened to all of them seven years ago, it’s Do Shik’s turn. Do Shik browses through the library stacks and picks up a familiar book. He hands it off to the librarian, who notes that he’s borrowed the book already before. He smiles broadly, saying he likes the book, but it’s clear that he likes the librarian more. Aww…
He joins his partner outside – Dog Nose, from episode 3 – who’s manning the car and their suspect handcuffed in the back seat. Ha! This must be a momentary pit stop between arresting the guy and going to the station!
Do Shik and Dog Nose are called to another case – this time, an old store owner was stabbed to death while getting robbed. The store is a complete mess, and Do Shik finds a beaten up money box that wasn’t fully opened. Dog Nose opens it up to reveal a measly $38. Because the thief killed for so little, Do Shik presumes that it must be an amateur who doesn’t know how to steal just yet. He has Dog Nose search for anyone who won’t be going home that evening, as that’s what amateur thieves would tend to do.
As he waits for results in his office, Do Shik reads some of the books that he borrowed. Behind him on the cork board is a missing person’s flyer for “Choi Hyeon Jeong” – the same girl in the flyers Ye Ri saw at her school. Do Shik gets a call, and he and Dog Nose head over to a PC-bang where their suspect is playing video games. The suspect tries to run, but the police hold him down to his chair and tell him that he’ll be arrested. Feeling threatened, the suspect whips out his knife, but Do Shik quickly grips his wrist. If the suspect uses that knife, things will be far worse for him. He swats the knife away, and the suspect is taken away.
Do Shik picks up the knife from the ground and then notices that the suspect manage to slash his palm. Do Shik has bandages wrapped around it. Back in the office, he reopens a folder with the murder case by the river – the same one Min Ho came upon while passing by. Dog Nose tells him that they’re transferring the case over to a search unit to narrow down and capture the suspect.
Later on, Do Shik heads back to the library with the books. He sees his favorite librarian shelving some books and talking to another man. They’re holding hands, so clearly they’re in some sort of close relationship. Do Shik laughs at himself, as if he thinks he must have been so silly to have crushed on her. He returns the books, and tells her to keep his library card; he won’t be borrowing books from now on.
At a pojangmacha, Do Shik tells Dog Nose that he’s planning to transfer to a station in Gangwon, never to return. 🙁
Chapter 5: F
Ji Hoon arrives at the scene of the crime – the corpse by the river side. He’s far more upbeat as he observes the lack of surveillance in the area. His colleague hasn’t been able to ID the body just yet, so Ji Hoon suggests he go search through the missing persons’ files. Though it’s winter already, it looks like the corpse was dressed in fall clothing.
Beside the body, he notices a burning piece of paper. It’s nothing important, but it certainly created a lot of smoke. Ji Hoon concludes that since the body was in an isolated area for quite a while, the burning piece of paper was there to attract attention, so that the corpse would be found. He spots Min Ho in the distance taking pictures and orders a police officer to stop him. Chance encounters!
Back at the station, Ji Hoon scans through other case files where the women murdered all had their faces mutilated in some way. It’s similar to the corpse who had her face all taped up. A colleague confirms that the body belongs to Choi Hyeon Jeong – a missing woman whose flyer was handed to Ye Ri, and whose case originally belonged to Do Shik’s team. Since she was killed in September, Ji Hoon believes that more murders will occur – or have occurred already, and are just waiting to be discovered.
At his apartment, Ji Hoon shares a meal with his girlfriend – the love of his life. He tells her that she means three words to him: “I’m hungry,” “I miss you,” and “I want to hug you” – it makes more sense in Korean when those phrases are actually just one word-liners… Anyways, she laughs at him for how cheesy he is. Aww – this is the cute side to Ji Hoon we never see.
The TV blares a news broadcast about the recent spate of murders, and Ji Hoon turns his attention to it fully, lost in his thoughts.
Back to the present…
The present Ye Ri, Do Shik, and Min Ho all find themselves holding some aspect of this case that brings them back to seven years ago, whether it be a flyer, a case file, or a photo. Together, they figure out that Ji Hoon must be obsessed with this case because it’s tied back to his past, and he labeled it “F” because it had to do with the “face,” it happened on “Fridays,” and only to “females.” Do Shik has a lightbulb moment: “Wait – women is (the same meaning as) ‘female’?”
Ye Ri and Min Ho: >_>
A quick scan through the other case files shows that Ji Hoon was collecting every single case that had these three similar aspects for all seven years. Do Shik picks up a loose sheet of paper – he’s found a lead. There’s only been one survivor in all of these cases: Yoo Hyun Kyung. He orders Min Ho and Ye Ri to clean up, while he goes to hunt down this lead.
The answer to the case could be found in the past, and they would be able to figure out who the culprit was, and why Ji Hoon is hiding now from all of them.
Nice set-up episode. We got to see more of each character’s past and understand how they became who they are now. All of them could have met at some point seven years ago, but they didn’t because fate decided they should meet a little later. It was also cool that each story had a color theme – Min Ho’s story was all in cool blue to sepia; Ye Ri’s story was tinged in purple/red; Do Shik’s story was in black and white; and Ji Hoon’s story was in color, but very saturated and bleak. I enjoyed Min Ho’s backstory because I now understand what kind of person he is. He’s not just a talented young ‘un who’s new to being a detective. He was actually a very driven student who immersed himself in the world of criminal studies. With all of them, we found another side to their personality that they’ve all buried deep within. This murder of Choi Hyeon Jeong just dug up all of that. It’s not just Ji Hoon who suffers from his past. Of all people it’s Ye Ri and Min Ho who have a “bleaker” past so to speak, where they look to be happier now than they were seven years ago.
In terms of speculations, I’m ready to think that Min Ho’s mother’s death will somehow be tied to all these murders that Ji Hoon was collecting. We don’t really know what happened to her just yet, even though it was hinted that she died by a serial murderer’s hand. I’m also ready to think that Do Shik’s librarian crush could very well be another victim. And I’m ready to think that the creepy photographer Ye Ri met is the killer; this is because he’s someone obsessed with faces.
I could be totally wrong, but since this case only showed that answers could be found in the past, I’ll have to wait for the next episode to get to the heart of this new tape murder case!
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 7
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 6
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 5
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 4
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 3
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 2
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 1 (Part 2)
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 1 (Part 1)