We’re winding down to D-Day and everyone’s upping their game, drawing connections, and playing some classic cat and mouse. Granted our heroes appear to be the mice in this scenario and I’d never bet against a cat (evil geniuses, all), but for now all mice are still alive and accounted for. That’s kind of a victory, right?
SONG OF THE DAY
Achime (Morning) – “무표정한 발걸음” (Emotionless steps) [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Tae-san slips inside Boss Moon’s house, having jumped through hoops to ensure it would be empty. That entails getting the prosecutors to hold Boss Moon under emergency arrest, the kind without a warrant that would keep him in custody for 48 hours. The downside: Jae-kyung’s evidence is rather light for a warrant, and if she can’t produce it within the timeframe they have to let him go. Right now it’s a risk they’re willing to take so Tae-san can get the digital camera back…
But Boss Moon is there at home, awaiting Tae-san’s break-in. AUGHHH. Slippery bastard.
Four hours earlier. Boss Moon sits in the interrogation room while Jae-kyung takes the report. She’s curiously relaxed, making him suspicious of her motivation, knowing that she’s not the type to rush into an arrest to only get one-half of the bad guys.
Jae-kyung’s boss checks in on her progress, and she’s working to build the case for a warrant. She says she’ll apply for it tomorrow, intending to use her full 48 hours, but her boss warns that they’re under pressure and that she’d better apply now—they can ask the judge to take his time reviewing the case. Uh, anyone else see a hole in that plan?
Sure enough, Congresswoman Jo sits personally meets with the judge to provide Boss Moon’s alibi. She negates the CCTV footage as evidence (which placed him outside the crime scene) by saying she’d invited him to that neighborhood to view a plot of land.
So when Jae-kyung gets back to the interrogation room, Boss Moon is gone. In the time she’d been talking with her boss, the judge had overturned the warrant request. Jae-kyung makes a frantic call to Tae-san, just at the moment that he’s drilling open Boss Moon’s front door lock.
Her car happens to be blocked in and a shifty-looking taxi driver picks her up. He’d been placed there by the baddies, who sure were thorough in their preparations. I really wish Jae-kyung had been as thorough in hers—it was a good plan, but needed more than “stall, stall, stall” in the methodology department. She leaves a voicemail for Tae-san to get the hell outta there, just as her taxi driver pulls over citing some kind of breakdown.
Which brings us to the present, as Boss Moon congratulates Tae-san for being smarter than he gave him credit for, though not smart enough to actually pull off the camera theft successfully. It’s too bad Tae-san had to go and kill himself in a fit of despair, Boss Moon says, reading from a prepared suicide note. Especially when he’d promised to save his poor daughter’s life.
Tae-san’s stunned that he knew about the surgery, and mention of Su-jin makes him desperate. He begs to be allowed to make it to the surgery, promising to give up all hopes of payback—he can die afterwards. He even reverts to jondaemal like a proper minion (he’d previously been spitting hate in banmal) and appeals to Boss Moon’s humanity as a parent himself, though it may be a stretch to assume he has any humanity left. In any case, Boss Moon doesn’t care to hear it and instructs Teacher Kim to continue with the plan. He drugs Tae-san, who falls unconscious.
Waiting outside in the car, Boss Han wonders what’s taking so long and decides to head in himself. He resumes his cover by lugging that wheelbarrow in front of the house, just as Teacher Kim loads a heavy bag into the trunk of a car. Boss Han manages to toss a tracker into the trunk as he passes.
Teacher Kim takes Tae-san’s body to Boss Han’s own building, where they’ve planned a strategic blackout to allow him the chance to take Tae-san up to the roof. Tae-san comes to as Teacher Kim lugs him over to the edge, fighting back and getting the upper hand in a hand-to-hand tussle. He chokes Teacher Kim into unconsciousness… or rather, fake unconsciousness (never turn your back on an assassin!) that allows him to regain the advantage.
This time Tae-san’s not so lucky and finds himself half-hanging over the side of the building. Then a voice shouts for them to stop—Boss Han—and says… Teacher Kim’s name? Oh innnteresting. Moreover, Teacher Kim seems stunned to recognize him too.
Tae-san grabs him to make their getaway, leaving behind Teacher Kim’s penknife that he’d momentarily wielded. Oh god, please don’t tell me that’ll bite him in the ass later. Teacher Kim goes after them, but his blackout window ends and the lights flicker back on. Furthermore, now there are security guards on patrol to investigate the emergency call Boss Han had made about a potential suicide jumper.
As they drive off, Tae-san asks if Boss Han knew Teacher Kim. He gets no response.
Jae-kyung arrives at Boss Moon’s front gate, trying the bell first and banging on the door before deciding to barge in anyway by jumping the wall. And then, flash! A series of clicks go off as she gets photographed in this incriminating position, with a smirking Boss Moon on the other side. Arrrrrgh. Granted she thought she was in the clear since Boss Moon made sure there were no cameras on this street, but arrrrgh.
She asks if they’ve already killed Tae-san, and they invite her in to hear the story. She gets a call just then, though, and needs only to hear Tae-san’s voice to make her exit. The gangsters realize this is odd, and news of the failed killing earns Teacher Kim a beating from the boss, who calls him useless.
Jae-kyung heads over to Congresswoman Jo’s house, and the sight of her house lights flicking off incites scorn—she orders a hit on a person and goes to bed like normal? But today that triggers a different thought as she recalls the report citing the congresswoman’s clockwork habits. So she calls her directly and basically orders her to come out, as she will be at her doorstep in ten minutes. Then she waits and watches outside the house.
Congresswoman Jo changes out of her sparkly nightgown back into her ajumma clothes, takes the secret passageway to her other house, and comes out the front door of her cover house. (Who has a cover house, I swear.) She does a sweep of Jae-kyung’s clothes to ensure no bugs (ever the careful one), then looks on blankly as Jae-kyung half-pleads, half-demands that she at least spare the child’s life. Tae-san is one thing, but how could she order a child killed too?
Then Jae-kyung registers that Congresswoman Jo doesn’t seem to know about the daughter. Not that it affects her response—she says it changes nothing, and that the world is full of people who have to die even though you don’t kill them with your own hands. She has a very cynical but not entirely false view of the world (it’s always unsettling when the drama’s resident crazy baddie starts spouting sense) and how Jae-kyung’s just like her, using her position as prosecutor to pursue her personal agenda. If the daughter’s life was the important thing in all this, why did she not say anything before?
It’s gotta sting, hearing your lifelong enemy tell you exactly what you did wrong and being right about it—that Jae-kyung gave up her chance to nab Boss Moon in her greed to also get the congresswoman. So don’t spout on about daughters and killings, she says, because if Tae-san’s death leads to his daughter’s death, well, that’s his fault for dying.
She adds, “You turning out this way is your father’s fault, not mine.” Jae-kyung argues that her father died of repressed rage (when your anger manifests as physical ailment), but Congresswoman Jo only has scorn for his powerlessness—if she’d been him, she wouldn’t have gone so easily.
Jae-kyung warns her that she’s the prosecutor determined to bring her down, but Congresswoman Jo smirks that Jae-kyung will never get her.
Jae-kyung and Tae-san reconvene at their previous meeting spot, both with heads hanging over today’s failed operation. It’s fortunate that he got out safely, but there’s no denying they’ve been dealt a big setback.
In-hye can’t sleep that night, worrying over Tae-san. She gets up and sees a figure sitting outside the room, which turns out to be Seung-woo. He comes clean to her about having shot Tae-san, and also to aiding in the recent camera theft. He tells her of the threat to kill Su-jin and how he’d struck the deal with the bad guys in exchange for sparing Tae-san’s life.
In-hye’s briefly upset that he didn’t tell her about it, but he points out that he’d asked her to come to him. “You chose to accept his request,” he notes. He tells her that he’d thought he’d seen all sorts of people in the line of duty, but only now realizes that the world was bigger than he’d known. Points for personal growth?
Su-jin wakes up in an empty room and spies a new phone, wondering why Mom uses two. Inside, she finds an entry for “Su-jin’s Dad,” which brings a smile to her face.
Tae-san answers the phone and freezes when her voice chirps, “Daddy? Is this Su-jin’s daddy?” When he answers yes, she marvels, “Wow! Daddy, did you make up with Mommy?”
She makes a cute bow to officially introduce herself to Dad, reminding him that he pretended he wasn’t Dad the first time they met. He explains not knowing that she recognized him, and she lets him off the hook with Mom’s favorite saying about how sometimes people have stories they can’t talk about.
He asks how she knew it was him, and she says she’ll tell him when they meet. He confirms that he’ll come see her in three more days, and she kicks her feet in the air in joy. She asks if he can come tonight, or tomorrow, but accepts his answer that he can’t come until the surgery. She starts to ask about his friend from the other day, but that’s when In-hye comes in and she hurriedly says bye to climb back into bed.
Tae-san is staying with Boss Han for the time being, who offers to keep helping him. It’s a change of heart since he was planning to skip town, but by way of explanation he mentions the son he once lost. Tae-san asks if Teacher Kim resembles him, and Boss Han decides he’ll have to do some digging.
Seung-woo’s boss pulls him aside to ask him point-blank about his strange behavior, having already confirmed some of Seung-woo’s extracurricular activities, like meeting with the girlfriend about the digital camera.
Jae-kyung is called in by her boss as well, already anticipating she’s about to be suspended. He’s got the photo of her trying to trespass over Boss Moon’s wall and asks for a chat, but she just says she’ll be using her personal days and heads home for some drinking and moping.
She accepts a food order from a deliveryman who takes particular not of her appearance, and reports to the gangsters that Jae-kyung was home and looking a mess. (Thankfully, Jae-kyung is just as sharp; she must be playing the part for their benefit.)
The gangsters chuckle amongst themselves that she’s got nothing to do now, and no way to help Tae-san further. They’re closing shop on the pawnshop, and Brainy Smurf confirms that “that thing” is ready.
At work in her restaurant, In-hye greets a guest with a smile, then registers his face: Boss Moon. Playing the part of customer, he puts in an order and waits while she steps aside to frantically text a message… only to be attacked and chloroformed from behind.
Tae-san heads into the pawnshop building and gives the shop a call, warning his two former minions that he’s on his way over to kill ’em. They laugh in his face and gloat that they found both of the recorders he planted, just as he tosses a smoke bomb in through the window. They escape the fumes, and Tae-san slips inside to retrieve the other recorders he planted. Nice.
He takes a listen to them, hoping for a helpful clue or incriminating conversation, and finally gets it. It’s an exchange between the boss’s stupid henchman and the two pawnshop lackeys, which includes the statement, “You told Jang Tae-san that the chairman killed Mi-sook? With your own lips?”
In-hye’s employee realizes she’s been gone for a while and checks with the hospital. Soon the cops realize she’s disappeared and begin the search.
Tipped off by last night’s encounter, Jae-kyung looks up the deed to the house next door to Congresswoman Jo’s, which is under a company name that isn’t google-able. She puts a request for more info, just as Seung-woo calls to ask about In-hye, and she in turn calls Tae-san.
He’s alarmed to hear she’s missing, which grows upon switching over to a new incoming video call—which features In-hye’s image, bound and gagged. He records the call as the kidnapper demands to know his whereabouts and gives him a meeting place. Show up in thirty minutes if he wants to save her life, and he’d better not call Jae-kyung. If Jae-kyung so much as leaves her house, In-hye dies.
Tae-san demands to speak with her, whereupon In-hye insists that he not come, She’s shaking in fear but assures him that she’s fine, saying that he’ll just be killed and then Su-jin will die too: “Don’t save me, just save Su-jin.”
In the tone of one’s last goodbye, she adds, “Seeing you again… was good. It was such a relief. The memories of you that I carried within me must have been with me all along. Now use those memories to save Su-jin. You mustn’t come here.”
Teacher Kim cuts the phone call, then confirms with the boss that the message was conveyed. He’s instructed to continue on to the next destination.
Tae-san howls in frustration at his Sophie’s choice—the love of his life, or his child? Either way he has thirty minutes to decide, after which point somebody’s dying. In-hye’s last words strike a chord with him and flashes him back to happier days when she’d said something similar, about how she loved to see herself reflected in his eyes, because it makes her feel like he’s carrying her with him. They’d just relocated to Seoul so he could start fresh there, and planned for the future.
This flashback is more than a flight of nostalgia, though, and Tae-san suspects In-hye was sending him a clue. He calls Jae-kyung to look into the video file to make out the reflection in In-hye’s eyes.
Jae-kyung enhances the image and makes out Teacher Kim’s face. She can vaguely make out the surroundings and speculates that it’s a photo studio, which isn’t a huge lead. But then Tae-san remembers that early night in his flight from justice when Teacher Kim had almost found him in a dump truck, and how the maintenance workers had shot video of Teacher Kim’s car fleeing the scene, because it was suspicious.
Jae-kyung can’t leave home, so he asks her to call in Seung-woo. Aww, yeah. See, now this is how you use this whole teamwork business.
Seung-woo therefore follows up with the sanitation company and gets the footage. The license plate yields the address as a commercial building, which happens to contain a photo studio.
Tae-san arrives at the address dictated by Teacher Kim, who orders him into a car parked there. There’s an address entered into the navigation program, and he’s to make the two-hour drive over, whereupon he’ll find the next clue. Deadliest scavenger hunt ever?
To ensure no shenanigans, Tae-san is to keep this call connected—no calls for help elsewhere—and the moment he disconnects, In-hye dies.
In the hospital, a friendly woman passes out free juice drinks to everyone, telling them that she’s so grateful to the hospital for saving her father’s life that this is her small show of appreciation. But in no time the entire staff is passed out, leaving the halls free for Boss Moon to roam. Gah!
He shows up at Su-jin’s window all smiles, promising to take her to see Daddy now. Su-jin knows she’s not allowed outside this sterilized room, but Boss Moon has planned for that and shows her the picture of the special medical van he’s prepared just for her, because her Daddy wants to see her so much. She’s not going to argue that.
So he wheels her out as we wind down one more day. D-3.
Hm, an interesting tidbit arises about Teacher Kim’s origins. He had a visible emotional reaction to seeing Boss Han, which is intriguing enough in the way it suggests Teacher Kim has emotions. Who knew? He does seem to have a bit of a complex with Boss Moon, who is like an abusive father figure whose approval Teacher Kim still craves, but as far as emotions go I’m curious to know where they lie. The show is hinting that he is Boss Han’s lost son (“lost” suggests dead, but it’s vague enough that the actual whereabouts of the son are still in question).
So if that ends up being the case, you have to wonder how he came to be on the other side, whether it was by choice, and whether there’s any chance he’ll break rank. I can’t quite apply the word “redemption” to him, considering he’s a highly trained super-killer, but maybe there’ll be more to him than mere Terminator minion.
I suppose the In-hye-versus-Su-jin dilemma is well-trod dramatic territory, but even so I really love the way it plays out here. The slightly more common scenario is when we have the kidnapping victim insisting that her hero save himself and leave her to die, because each is willing to sacrifice their lives for the other. In this case, though, Tae-san becomes a stand-in for Su-jin, and that makes the choice all the more fraught. He has to save himself to save her, and you wonder whether personal guilt would come with making that decision.
Which isn’t to say he’s given up on the idea of saving In-hye, of course, since he’s still going along with the wild GPS goose chase, but I appreciate the conflict on a symbolic level—it’s a nice way to place his own self-loathing at direct odds with his desire to save his daughter. I’d venture to guess that Tae-san would have no qualms giving up his life to save the other two, and although he’s recently tapped into a desire to survive, if pressed I think he’d be able to make that choice without a moment’s hesitation. No guilt, no regrets, just a literal representation of giving up everything you have to give.
In that sense I’d argue that staying alive presents a more complicated set of emotional struggles, in that he’d have to reconcile a lot of things about himself before he’d allow himself a second chance, to feel like he deserved it. He’s mostly earned In-hye’s forgiveness, and it was a sweet moment when she tells him that she basically remembered the good Tae-san, and saw that in him now as well. Now all that’s left is for him to find a way to forgive himself instead of falling back on the old refrain of calling himself worthless trash. Save your daughter, save yourself.