Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 9 (Final)
The final episode! The final mystery! The final battle! Everything culminates to this episode, and I am warning those who haven’t seen it yet that it is MESSED UP. Just to recap before everyone gets confused, we have several cases going on: the present-time murder with an unnamed victim in motel room 101, the murder of Choi Hyeon Jeong (found in the riverside), and the only survivor Yoo Hyun Kyung. All of them are tied to one culprit of the Daejeon Tape Murder Cases.
Chapter 1: The Only Survivor
Do Shik makes his way to the residence of Yoo Hyun Kyung, the only survivor of the serial murder cases. He looks through the mailboxes to find out which apartment she lives in, and then rings her doorbell. No one answers. It’s a pretty shoddy place, if you ask me. He takes down a fried chicken flyer, folds it, and jams it into the side of the door; if the door opens at all, he’ll know because the flyer would fall out of its place.
Meanwhile, Min Ho is making a little more progress as he sleuths around Hyun Kyung’s past. With the help of his female sunbae – the one who cannot resist his lady charms – he enters the archive for all the old cases. When he locates Hyun Kyung’s case file, it’s labeled as having taken place in 2002, rather than 2004. It does not exactly fit the seven years’ timeline of their search (based on the M.E.’s comments) but since Ji Hoon had the case file too…
Hyun Kyung reveals her story to a detective. She was a bar hostess, and received a call that there was a client waiting for her at the motel in room 201. She entered the room, only to find it empty. She pokes around the things, finding rolls of gauze on the table, when she is suddenly whacked in the head by a hard object. Blood pours out from her skull.
When she comes to, Hyun Kyung finds herself bound to a chair and her head wrapped up in gauze. It covers her entire face, so she can barely see what is in her surroundings. She starts freaking out, and the culprit whacks her in the head with a hammer again to shut her up.
Hyun Kyung fades in and out of consciousness. She hears her culprit lighting a cigarette, watching TV, and even pissing in the bathroom. He takes a few pictures of her as well. Finally, he gets up from sitting on the bed and leaves the room. She takes advantage of being alone and frantically scans the room, gasping for air. She sees a bright light ahead of her and figures it’s the window. She throws herself out of it, and lands on the cold hard ground.
Some passersby scream, and a man comes up to her asking if she’s ok. She begs for help, and he quickly has others call for an ambulance. He undoes the gauze around her face, and she blearily looks around her. She’s on the sidewalk in front of the motel, and she turns to see the window that she just fell out of. She doesn’t get a good look at her savior though (who happens to be a policeman too), before passing out.
The fact that the case happened on a Friday, to a woman, and involved masking her face qualifies it as an ‘F’ case that Ji Hoon would have been interested in. Min Ho then finds another report within the file: in 2004, Detective Son Jong Hak questioned Yoo Hyun Kyung as a witness for another case that had to do with the Daejeon Tape Murder cases that occurred during that time.
Back to Do Shik – he’s got some snacks and a makeshift fire around the corner of Hyun Kyung’s apartment building. Min Ho calls him with the update, and so Do Shik goes off in search of Detective Son Jong Hak. The detective has since retired, and now works in a small restaurant.
Detective Son remembers that 2004 case and Hyun Kyung clearly. He had never brought her in for questioning himself, but rather, she was brought to him as a witness. He asks if Do Shik knows of Yeo Ji Hoon. Do Shik: “…No.” Detective Son proceeds to call Ji Hoon an arrogant ass.
That’s not too far off the mark.
Back in Daejeon 2004, Chief Jung was the head of the police station there. He was pissed off that Detective Son and his team couldn’t find any leads for the murder. Ji Hoon arrives from the Seoul station, all cocky and confident. Chief Jung had him transferred over for the sole reason that he heard Ji Hoon was an ace detective. Ji Hoon is awfully rude to him, but Chief Jung tolerates it – as long as Ji Hoon can catch the culprit.
Ji Hoon smiles. He’s seen this murderer’s work before in Seoul, when they didn’t involve duct tape and were usually in a motel rather than the victim’s home. He notes the progression, from the earlier cases in Seoul to the cases in Daejeon, and believes that the culprit has grown from amateur murderer into a full-fledged monster. Ji Hoon: “You asked me if I was the ace detective right? I’m not. But at some point, people started calling me a monster. A monster chasing a monster!”
He swears to finish the case. After all – he has the trump card. He knows where the sole survivor is.
Meanwhile his girlfriend is back in Seoul, and she wakes up to an empty bed. Ji Hoon has made her breakfast, and left her a note that he’s gone to Daejeon. He leaves her a small violin necklace as a gift, and she smiles at the thought of him. Uh-oh, I sense a potential victim in her…
Chapter 2: Trap
We’re still in 2004. Detective Son, Chief Jung, and others arrive at the motel where Hyun Kyung had gone two years prior. Ji Hoon is waiting inside with a deathly nervous Hyun Kyung. The police look skeptically at her, not believing that this anxious woman could give them any leads.
Ji Hoon speaks to Chief Jung privately outside. He believes that since Hyun Kyung is back at the scene of the crime, she’ll be able to remember more things about the night she was kidnapped and bound. He wants to also set a trap for the culprit. The police’s search for the culprit is all over the media already. If they leak out that Hyun Kyung is still alive, and they use her as bait in the same motel room, perhaps the culprit will come out of hiding and try to kill Hyun Kyung again. It would be like rectifying a previous failure.
Ji Hoon fully believes that this is a strong bait that will help them catch the monster; there is no greater temptation than to have a clean record of successful murders. He is so damn arrogant, and messed up. If he could use a former victim as bait, no wonder he could abuse Min Ho in his crime reenactments.
Chief Jung himself is now worried, and he privately warns Detective Son to keep an eye on Ji Hoon, because he could get someone killed.
Now we’re in the present, and Do Shik returns to Hyun Kyung’s apartment building. The flyer has fallen to the floor; the door to her apartment has been opened. He knocks on her door, pretending that he’s a delivery man. Slowly, the door opens, and Hyun Kyung reveals herself to be a mad hermit, with wild hair, chapped lips, and crazed eyes. Do Shik slowly introduces himself as a detective, but that actually makes her freak out. She tries to slam the door on him, but he quickly jams his foot between the door and the door jamb so that she can’t close it. It must hurt, having the door slam multiple times against his foot, but Do Shik seems immune to it…
2004, the night of the trap: Ji Hoon tells Hyun Kyung that she only has to stay room 201, where she was kidnapped and bound. He and the police will take care of everything else. She nods, even though she’s nervous. The police are stationed all over the motel, with some in the rooms next door, and a small team stationed in a van at the parking lot. Cameras have been set up all over so that they have coverage over all the halls and lobby.
Present time: Hyun Kyung downs some pills to calm down. Do Shik slowly asks if he can ask questions about the events of 2002. She spazzes out again, and so he shows her his badge. She grabs it and flings it across the floor: “Put that away you bastard! You chewed gum and wanted to kill me, right? You locked me in and wanted me to burn to death!”
Clearly she associates every detective with Ji Hoon, but Do Shik finds it interesting that she said “burn to death…”
2004: The team outside the motel radios in that they saw a shady looking man enter the motel. Ji Hoon and the other police officers watch as the hooded man walks across the lobby and goes up the stairs. Instead of going towards room 201 where Hyun Kyung is, he keeps going up the floors. Everyone sighs – guess he’s not the culprit.
Suddenly, the fire alarm bell rings, and the lights turn off. Panic ensues, and all the police officers whip out their flashlights. They quickly go into the crime scene room, but Hyun Kyung is nowhere to be found. Uh-oh… The police quickly start searching the rooms and evacuate all the other motel guests. They scan through the crowds, hoping to spot Hyun Kyung or the culprit.
Ji Hoon sees a door slightly ajar within a room, and he cautiously makes his way in. It’s the bathroom, and Hyun Kyung is hiding in the tub. Though slightly relieved, he’s also pissed that he missed his chance with catching the culprit. I’m pretty sure the culprit already ran out with the crowds and pretended to be another motel guest.
Present time: Ye Ri grabs a coffee with the M.E. She begins by saying that ever since this case began, people she’s worked with have worn a different expression from what she usually sees. Chief Jung and Ji Hoon have changed, and so has the M.E. Ye Ri wants to know the truth – since the M.E. had referred to two cases seven years ago, what was the “second case”? With some hesitance, the M.E. tells the story…
Flash back to 2004: Ji Hoon barks at the other officers to find out where the fire alarm was set off, since it was a false alarm. He’s furious that they missed their chance in nabbing the guy. Detective Son appears with a grim expression, and tells Ji Hoon to follow him to room 101. Unsure of what to expect, Ji Hoon enters… and finds another body that has been taped up. Head wound with duct tape, feet and hands bound. It’s a new victim; the killer was no fool.
But things get worse. A closer look reveals the violin necklace around the victim’s neck… the same one he gave his girlfriend Hee Joo. Oh shit.
Ji Hoon screams into a frenzy – “Hee Joo! Hee Joo!!” – and several policemen try to pull him back. He tries to rip off the tape from around her head, but they stop him, since he shouldn’t touch the body of a victim. He manages to rip off a piece – it’s the smallest, shortest piece of tape and it only covers the area of the nose…
Back to the present, the M.E. is finishing up the story. What was unique about Hee Joo’s case was that the tape was not wound up so tightly around her head. For a very long time, Hee Joo was able to breathe and live. While biding his time, the killer had played a musical composition that Hee Joo had performed. Because she was so still, he wondered if she had died, so the killer crept up next to Hee Joo’s body and listened.
Very faintly, he could hear her breathing, and her bound hands shook every so slightly. With a devious smile, the killer cut off a small piece of tape and closed off all airways. Hee Jo panicked and tried to tear it off, but the killer held her down and waited for her to suffocate to death. Then, he rang the alarm.
While Ye Ri digests the news, the M.E. asks her if she has a special relationship with Ji Hoon. She only means it as a warning – “Ji Hoon is a dangerous guy. If you get near him, you will get hurt… you’ll end up like her (Hee Joo).”
Ye Ri takes her findings to the other two boys, and they feel empathy for the pain he must have gone through. However, they don’t understand why the killer is making a reappearance now, and they’re pissed that their arrogant team leader has now run away and gone into hiding. But they’re in for a bigger shock when they’re told that their team Ten has been disbanded, and the Tape Murder Case has been reassigned to another team. Ye Ri and Min Ho are stunned into silence, while Do Shik tries knocking down on the door of the chief – with no response.
The team packs their belongings, although there’s not much to pack. (Min Ho is keeping that magazine with a hot girl on the cover though…) Ye Ri wanders into Ji Hoon’s room and then notices something funny. She calls the boys in and points at a crumpled piece of paper with the word “second wind” and its definition printed on it. It’s like a message from Ji Hoon; whoever had cleaned out his room had left the cabinet untouched, knowing that they would open it and go through it, and find the piece of paper. Ji Hoon wasn’t running away from the case, and the rest of the team shouldn’t be giving up so easily. Rather, they should be gathering up their “second wind” and pursue the case further – with or without the bureau’s permission.
He wants their help. He wants them to follow him, wherever he is. With a smile, Min Ho clips back on his detective ID onto his jacket.
Chapter 3: Second Wind
The trio pack everything in the office and wheel them to Min Ho’s car. It’s a pretty sweet ride for a guy as young as he is, and Do Shik vows to really get to know Min Ho better (heh!). They set up base in a spacious, empty office that used to belong to Min Ho’s father. Do Shik starts meting out duties: since Ye Ri is so good at poking around people’s homes, she’s assigned to scope out Ji Hoon’s home. Min Ho can start out by cleaning the office area, and then review the surveillance tapes from that failed trap in the motel in 2004. As for Do Shik, he will go investigate Hyun Kyung further.
Do Shik heads over to a research facility and meets with a psychologist there. Apparently the psychologist had written up a thesis about Hyun Kyung and her mental stability. He has footage of his interviews with Hyun Kyung, and had shared it previously with other students and doctors, and also a policeman before Do Shik. If he hadn’t been working on that thesis, the footage would have been destroyed in a fire that ravaged the reference room in 2005.
In a small room, Do Shik watches the footage on a computer. Hyun Kyung is clearly crazed, and she reacts strongly to the smell of cigarettes. The psychologist apologizes for having smoked, but she quickly says that it’s not him. Rather, she remembers smelling a certain cigarette scent while she was kidnapped in 2002. Her savior who untied her bandages had that cigarette smell… and she recalls having smelled that same scent while bound in the room.
So… her savior was her kidnapper!
Do Shik rewinds that bit again, making sure he heard correctly. He doesn’t even notice that there’s another man in the room who’s picking up some files there. The other man comments casually that someone else kept rewinding that segment too a month ago; that ‘someone else’ had identified himself as a professor. Sounds like it was Ji Hoon who had come in – as he was a professor before he joined team Ten. So he found out the killer’s identity a month ago, before the most recent Tape Murder case.
Leaving the research facility, Do Shik quickly calls up Min Ho and shares his findings. Min Ho confirms that he read somewhere in Ji Hoon’s reports that the person who found Hyun Kyung outside the motel was a policeman. If the policeman is killer ‘F,’ it explains why Ji Hoon went into hiding. He would never be able to catch the killer if he was being watched by the killer, who could be in the same bureau.
But now the question is why after seven years did the murderer come back? Do Shik believes that because Ji Hoon was getting close to the truth, the murderer lashed out and killed another person. It’s monster vs. monster now.
Ye Ri lets herself in to Ji Hoon’s place, which is completely covered by white cloths. There’s a painting of the Norse goddess Freyja on the wall; the word ‘Friday’ comes from her name. Next to it are some long tribal masks; ‘face’. Next to that is a painting of the moon; moons are a symbol of women. Ye Ri muses aloud: “Because of ‘F’ (killer), you wanted to be come ‘F’? Or are you becoming one?”
She finds the prickly cactus plant that she had given Ji Hoon weeks ago. He had never unwrapped it because he kept pricking himself, but now it lay on the table, unwrapped and on top of her post-it message. Finding that odd, she flips over the message – on the back of the note is an address in Gyeonggi-do.
Ye Ri heads over to the building at that address, and leaves a message for the other two to meet her there. It’s an abandoned warehouse. Girl – seriously, do you not watch crime thrillers? You do not go anywhere – especially warehouses – ALONE.
Chapter 4: The Death and the Maiden (String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor – Schubert)
In an empty concert hall, Ji Hoon sits alone, listening to a rehearsal of the Schubert piece “Death and the Maiden.” He has sought out anonymity with his dark jacket and cap brim hanging low. Onstage, his dead violinist girlfriend Hee Joo is performing the piece with three others.
Every time Ji Hoon sees a dead body, he is immediately brought back to his memories. He’s angry and bitter that the killer could have so much power over how he views life, and over the victim’s last moments. Since Hee Joo’s death, Ji Hoon has died as well, and what’s depressing is that he can no longer remember her smile. Unfortunately, he cannot turn back time, and so Ji Hoon vows that no matter what, he will find the killer and bring him down. “I will do anything to meet you again – even if it is to sell my soul! I will gladly do it. I have to meet you again so I can kill you with my own hands.” And with that, the music piece ends, and he leaves the concert hall.
Meanwhile Ye Ri is wandering through the vast warehouse, calling out for the director. Suddenly, a figure comes rushing up behind her and knocks her out.
When she comes to, she’s all bound up on a chair, duct tape wrapped around her head. We do a quick rewind of events, where her captor – the killer – stands before her as blood drips down from the wound on her head. She comes to, looks up at the killer startled, and then screams as he quickly binds the tape around her head.
Epilogue: An Unfinished Story
Do Shik wanders in the sunset, wondering if Ji Hoon really had to go “that far…”
Min Ho muses that he sees his father in Ji Hoon: he sees a man who has locked himself in hell and refuses to get over the past.
Ye Ri is back in Ji Hoon’s apartment (and I am positive this visual is just a flashback). She saw a killer’s face when her captor wrapped her head with tape, but she saw Ji Hoon’s face when her face was unwrapped. “Are you becoming a monster as well?” she asks. Yeah – I’m positive she’s alive – somewhere.
OK – this series is officially messed up. It’s ending is totally leaving you wanting for more, and I still can’t come to grips about it. I do think there should be a season 2, if only to help finish this story. May I add that it’s interesting this series and Vampire Prosecutor have the potential to be serialized shows very much like in the form of American TV shows – several seasons, same actors/characters, and overarching storylines that bleed into each season.
Anyways, I have several theories about what happened. Theory #1: Ji Hoon is the murderer. This makes no sense in a way, because why would Ji Hoon kill his own girlfriend? But while he may not be the original killer ‘F’ who killed Choi Hyeon Jeong and Hee Joo, he might be the one who killed the most recent murder victim, and bound up Ye Ri. He’s become so crazed and mentally unstable that he could have a split personality, and is killing people without his “detective-side” knowing it. Everyone keeps noting that Ji Hoon is becoming the monster, and he had the nightmare about seeing his own face on the killer.
Theory #2: Chief Jung is the killer. If Chief Jung is the killer, it’s a bit similar to how in Vampire Prosecutor, Prosecutor Jang ended up being the mysterious vampire who killed Tae Yeon’s sister. Here, the mentor/boss of Ji Hoon ends up being the serial killer Ji Hoon is hunting down. Totally twisted, I know, but the clues we have point to a policeman who knows Ji Hoon’s every move, and knows that Ye Ri is getting close to Ji Hoon. Chief Jung knows all of this, and I’m sure in the last case with the kidnapping of Min Chae Won, he got to witness first hand how much Ji Hoon trusts Ye Ri. I love the idea that the killer is actually really close to Ji Hoon.
Plus, when Ji Hoon was confiding in the chief that he wants out, Chief Jung was initially all supportive (“You’ll catch the guy! No worries!”) to all furious. It’s as if he were welcoming the challenge, daring Ji Hoon to find him.
Theory #3: The Killer is someone totally different – but the person who bound Ye Ri is definitely Ji Hoon. I think this might be the most plausible theory. It’s possible the killer is a totally new character. However, I do think that Ji Hoon has been pushed to the brink at this point and he is desperate to reach the killer. Therefore, he’s going to do anything it takes to capture him. If we go in chronological order, back in 2004 Ji Hoon was willing to use a former victim as bait in order to capture a killer. Then, in the beginning of this series, Ji Hoon was willing to use Min Ho as a guinea pig to figure out if a crime could be carried out in 12 minutes. So now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were willing to use Ye Ri as bait. I’m sure he’s figured out that the killer would attack someone close to him, so why not be one step ahead and pretend to murder Ye Ri?
I think the last two episodes were just as strong as the first two episodes. We began with the tape murder case, and end with it. All throughout, the team seeks at a truth that lies within human nature. Almost all of the culprits in each case were mentally unstable and/or had a warped sense of justice. So what drives these perfectly normal looking people into doing such evil deeds? That’s why seeing the team’s back stories in the last episode were important – they all had a potentially dark, evil view of the world, but their choices allowed them to escape that darkness. Ji Hoon is the only one left who hasn’t escaped that darkness, and his team is the only one who can pull him out.
Season 2? Sign me up for it!
- Special Affairs Team TEN: Episode 8
- 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)