The Virus: Episode 2
It’s a cat and mouse game: now that the team knows who to look for, they just have to find him. The chase also grows personal as the count of infected victims grows ever higher, and Myung-hyun develops a personal vendetta against ‘patient zero.’
EPISODE 2 RECAP
It’s been 7 days since the infection began. In-chul is riding the crowded subway, and he coughs into his hand. The subway screeches on the brakes, and the man next to him topples sideways into him. In-chul grabs another hanging strap, and the man grabs In-chul’s original one. That man then gets off and drinks soju with some friends, all of them swapping shot glasses as they pour each other drinks. They also use their own spoons to sip out of a communal pot of stew.
Yeah – we all know where this is going…
Back at the office, the team tries to figure out whether In-chul was at Hwaseong Sangrok Medical Center to begin with. He was never seen at the location, nor identified as a patient or visitor there. However, he is the only survivor thus far, and so Myung-hyun instructs Joo-young to check cameras in the area to see where he came from exactly. Soo-gil and Sun-dong are to investigate Hwayong-dong to see if there are any more infected victims.
Myung-hyun continually gets a call from an unknown number, so he doesn’t pick up when he meets with Tae-jin. His superior is angry that the case has yet to be resolved, and the media is in a frenzy since Reporter Jung wrote up his article. Myung-hyun didn’t want the news of the virus to be concealed anyway, since 50 people have now been infected in such a short time. There is hope that In-chul could have the antibodies to fight the infection, so Tae-jin urges for him to be found while he delays the press from reporting anything further.
Since the CDC is not willing to comment on the possible virus infections, Reporter Jung follows up on another lead. The email he had received was about medical center fires in two other places, Jechon and Gongju, and it’s possible they may all be related.
Ji-won continues to check with major hospitals to see if anyone looking like In-chul has come in, but gets nothing. She does remember seeing a research article in Hwaseong’s chairman’s office written by Dr. Yoon Il-joong about a super vaccine against most types of influenza viruses. The experiments ended two years ago abruptly, suggesting that the super vaccine failed. However, Ji-won points out that the mutated viruses created in the research lab could still exist – and possibly be leaked to the public.
They head over to Nasan Hospital, and find a distressed son trying to see his quarantined mother. Myung-hyun grabs the son and forces him to go into quarantine, since the test results aren’t back yet on what the mother has. Ji-won tries to get Myung-hyun to let go; if the mother is infected with the mysterious virus, then this may be the son’s last chance to see her. Shouldn’t he empathize with the son’s heartbreak?
Oops. Myung-hyun glares at her, and she apologizes for bringing up his daughter’s death obliquely. He scolds her for feeling too sympathetic to the patients instead of following protocol; if she lets her compassion get in the way, she risks letting one more person get infected. Se-jin interrupts with the patient’s exam results: she’s negative for the virus, so her son should be able to see her.
Se-jin takes Ji-won and Myung-hyun to his office; there’s still no word on a vaccine for the virus, since it keeps failing once they start cultivating it. When Il-joong joins them, Ji-won mentions that they might have some hope for a cure since they found the person with possible antibodies to the virus… or he could be the source of all the infections.
Myung-hyun shows them a photo of In-chul, but they don’t recognize him as any of their patients. Ji-won then asks about their research on the super vaccine, which was supposed to have been based off of birds’ antibodies since they can neutralize the influenza virus so well. Il-joong believes that super vaccine could have successfully eliminated the current mysterious virus, but unfortunately it was suspended. The odd glances Il-joong gives Se-jin, and Se-jin’s unusually stiff demeanor, are not lost on Myung-hyun.
Se-jin then excuses him from the room, and Ji-won follows him out for more questions. Il-joong clarifies to Myung-hyun that though their experiments were risky, he does not believe that their mutated viruses could have been leaked, since they’re locked up for safekeeping. Outside the room, Se-jin also doesn’t think that this mysterious virus is related to the ones in the research experiment, because he admits to Ji-won that he created the mutated viruses for the experiment. He willingly hands over any research materials that might be of help to them.
Meanwhile, In-chul takes another train to Gangnam Station, infecting one more person on his way to meet a friend. How ironic that the friend tells the now-infected guy that he hasn’t seen him in so long he thought he died. Har har.
Myung-hyun heads for the elevators, and when the doors slide open, doctors wheel in a new infected patient with bleeding eyes. They complain about not being able to reach the guardian, and one of the doctors cries out, “Yoo Soo-in, can you hear me?”
Myung-hyun stops the elevator doors from closing on him and chases after them. So that’s the mysterious number that kept calling him. He becomes distraught and asks how this could have happened, but no one knows yet. Now he becomes the distressed guardian whom the doctors have to stop from entering the quarantine ward. First his daughter, now his ex-wife.
He races to his car, and after some difficulty starting the car, he finally makes it out to another hospital. He calls his doctor-friend for a particular medical pouch and races back to Nasan. It’s a syringe full of Soo-in’s T-cells, a type of white blood cell to aid her immune system. Se-jin is reluctant to administer it for fear of a cytokine storm (a fatal immune response where the shock of the cells breaks down the immune system rather than bolster it). But then again, he also has no other solution or method that could save Soo-in’s life.
Se-jin administers the shot, but since she’s already been infected, there’s no telling how much longer she has. He warns Myung-hyun to start preparing mentally for her death, and the poor guy breaks down. He’s going to lose two women to two diseases.
Sun-dong gets a call that another death has occurred in Daerim-dong, and that the victim was living with someone else. They haven’t identified that roommate yet, but Soo-gil and Sun-dong head over right away. Joo-young notfies Myung-hyun about the new development, but he only wants to hear from them when they have the identity of the roommate.
Soo-gil heads to check the victim in his apartment while Sun-dong goes to speak with the victim’s girlfriend, who found him. She reveals that the victim, Kim Hyung-shik, had been living with a friend who used to live in a hospital. Because he couldn’t pay back a debt, the loan sharks sold him off to a hospital instead. Sun-dong quickly grabs Soo-gil; it’s possible this roommate is they guy they’re looking for! The girlfriend says the roommate is Kim In-chul, and they were all going to meet at Gangnam station an hour ago because Hyung-shik was going to get In-chul a job.
In-chul doesn’t have a cell number though, so Soo-gil grabs Hyung-shik’s cellphone just in case and heads out, having Sun-dong update Myung-hyun.
Meanwhile, Myung-hyun visits his wife in the ward wearing a hazmat suit. She wants an honest prognosis on her condition, and he admits that though he gave her some extra time with the T-cell shot, there is no cure for her infection and she could die. However, he promises he won’t let her, and asks what she did the other day when she got infected. After she visited Joon-hee’s ashes, she remembers meeting a young sickly man who coughed in her face. She doesn’t remember his face, but knows it happened at a convenience store in Daerim-dong.
That triggers his memory – his team just found a body in the same district as well. He calls up Sun-dong, and finds out that their target, Kim In-chul, is most likely waiting around in Gangnam station. Myung-hyun dashes over there and has Ji-won notify Tae-jin, since he’s the one who can order a backup CDC team to help them create a blockade around Gangnam. He also has Joo-young access the CCTV cameras in the area to locate In-chul. That proves to be difficult, since there are so many cameras and In-chul happens to be on the move.
Meanwhile, Do-jin has a high-level meeting with other government officials. It turns out that the current government is on thin ice, and the opposition party is growing stronger. He then gets a call from his underling that Tae-jin just issued a CDC blockade in Gangnam, and flips a lid. They’re taking such extreme actions for a guy who may have the antibodies? He orders for the backup team to be called off.
Do-jin will do anything to ensure that news does not leak about this virus, as it will lead to a global backlash, and give more ammunition for the opposing party. He even states that the official cause of death for the Hwayong-dong residents will be a carbon monoxide poisoning instead. The truth will have to wait a few more days, when the cure is discovered.
Soo-gil hands Myung-hyun Hyung-shik’s phone, in the hopes that In-chul may call. Ji-won finally locates In-chul in the station, and radios Soo-gil and Myung-hyun. They start searching for him by the payphones, as In-chul is calling Hyung-shik’s phone. Myung-hyun finally locates a hooded figure that fits In-chul’s description, and slowly approaches him while donning a face mask.
In-chul hears a ringing cellphone behind him, matching that of his phone call, and turns to see Myung-hyun. He asks where Hyung-shik is, and Myung-hyun instinctively replies, “Who?” But that tips In-chul off, and he makes a run for it. Myung-hyun and Soo-gil make chase as In-chul leaps over a turnstile and dashes through a crowded platform. (Poor Soo-gil gets his legs tangled up when he tries to jump over it. Ouch.)
A random foreigner grabs Myung-hyun by the collar, asking which way to City Hall randomly, and causes them to lose sight of In-chul. Joo-young chews their ears off for being incapable of catching a young sick boy, but she’s more confused over where the backup team is.
As Soo-gil drives them back to headquarters, Myung-hyun gets a call from Se-jin with updates on Soo-in’s condition. Because of the T-cell dose, the infection has slowed down. Unfortunately, Myung-hyun cannot visit, as it is too dangerous. Soo-gil is indignant that Soo-in got infected by In-chul himself, though it’s not surprising since they both lived in the same district.
Myung-hyun realizes that it’s possible In-chul doesn’t know Hyung-shik’s dead yet, since he had asked where his friend was. In-chul might be heading back home, so they head over to Daerim-dong. When Ji-won hears of their plan, she wants to go too.
Meanwhile, Reporter Jung visits a fire department in Jechon to see if they know of any serial arsonist, or if they heard of any fire survivors dying mysteriously soon afterwards. The firefighter does remember that a security guard felt sick the following day after the fire, and soon after his father had called 119 for help. By the time the firefighters arrived, a doctor had arrived and transferred him to another hospital. Unfortunately the firefighter didn’t see what hospital that was.
Speaking of which, the firefighter is starting to feel a bit queasy himself…
Reporter Jung goes back to his car and tweets his findings, adding that he’s waiting for an insider’s report on the events. A mysterious bespectacled fellow sees the tweet and looks up Reporter Jung’s background.
In-chul slowly makes his way back home, having caught a cab outside Gangnam station, and stops short when he sees that the police have blocked out his friend’s apartment building. He quickly makes a turn, and just avoids being seen by Myung-hyun and Soo-gil patrolling in their car. They know that In-chul might run at the sight of the cops, so they continue circling the neighborhood until they finally find him, taking a more roundabout way home.
Myung-hyun gets out of the car with a mask and gloves, and goes after him. He calls out In-chul’s name, and of course the kid runs. But this time, Myung-hyun catches him more easily, and tackles him. In-chul wriggles free and kicks Myung-hyun in the jaw, knocking the face mask off. Before he can run off further, Myung-hyun tells him that Hyung-shik’s dead. A look of genuine surprise passes over his face, and he thinks the loan sharks killed his friend.
Myung-hyun says he has nothing to do with those loan sharks, and tosses over his ID. A lot of people have died because of In-chul, because of the virus, and so they’ll need In-chul’s antibodies to combat the virus. In-chul is hesitant, but when he hears the distant police sirens, he tells Myung-hyun not to bother wasting any more of his time and makes a run for it.
In-chul dashes across the street, and Myung-hyun ends up getting hit by a taxi (that just drives away, by the way!) In-chul stops, seeing Myung-hyun lying on the ground. He hesitates on whether he should help or not, but jumps into a cab when he sees Ji-won arriving at his side.
Myung-hyun gets up and limps after In-chul, but Ji-won stops him – he can’t possibly go after anyone in this condition! Besides, it’s not even confirmed that In-chul has antibodies that they need. If In-chul is just a virus carrier, then Myung-hyun could easily have been infected just now. Myung-hyun doesn’t care if he dies as long as he can catch him.
Ji-won won’t let him get in her car to chase after In-chul. He needs to go to the hospital now. She doesn’t care if In-chul could possibly infect many more people who die, as long as Myung-hyun takes care of his own life first. Then hopefully when others are in a dangerous situation too, Myung-hyun is well enough to save them.
She drives off, and next thing we know, Soo-gil catches up to him. Soo-gil offers to take him to the hospital, and Myung-hyun angrily spits out blood. He realizes he has an open wound on his lip and thinks back to his fight with In-chul.
Myung-hyun tells Soo-gil to take a taxi separately to the hospital, and he’ll take the car alone. Soo-gil stares – could it possibly be that Myung-hyun was in close contact… and is now infected?
Okay – first off, no way is he infected right now. In-chul didn’t cough on him! He can’t be, right? He has to survive at least 17 more days!
This episode was strange and lacked less of the luster that came in episode one. It became glaringly obvious that the actors were not quite up to par with the characters, either by over-acting or under-acting. Eom Ki-joon and Park Min-woo are certainly overacting in that I find them too hyped up for what they’re saying sometimes. I wish Eom Ki-joon would portray Myung-hyun a little cooler, and less yell-y. As for Lee Ki Woo, he is so incredibly stoic that he’s become quite boring. I wish he had a little more life to him! Or, if the intention is to amp up on the mystery factor, then it’s kind of working; the strange expression that clouded his face during the talk about the research project two years ago made me think that he played a significant role in getting the research shut down. Despite being the one who created the mutated viruses, he looks guilty enough to have done something to sabotage it. If that is the case, then I hope this gets unraveled sooner than later, or I’m going to start falling asleep during his scenes. So far, he doesn’t seem to be that “warm doctor” that his character description stated before the series premiered.
But the odd acting and characterizations aside, I find the story itself compelling – compelling enough to ignore the acting and the awkward, jerky camera movements. It’s now being suggested that In-chul might not know he carries a deadly disease, and that he doesn’t realize he’s a walking time bomb. I don’t know if I believe it entirely just yet, because I still kind of want him to be devilishly evil. Unless there’s a bigger bad that’s orchestrating all of this on purpose and wiping out the city… perhaps to gain government control?! Ooh – and then we’d have a dash of OCN’s Hero thrown into this mix…