My Secret Hotel: Episode 8
So far at The Secret Hotel, we have: one definite murder, two possible murders, several serious suspects, an elopement, a marriage, and far too many secrets to count. New clues point to new suspects, but also keep raising more questions and widening the web of players.
We take a trip away from the hotel this hour, and there’s nothing like new surroundings to bring old problems to a boiling point. More pressingly: Who’s going to tell Sung-gyum about Sang-hyo?
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Hae-young watches Sang-hyo sleep, but quickly feigns sleep when she stirs. She comes over to him, and wonders if she was too harsh. As she heads away, Hae-young smiles to himself.
In the bathroom, Sang-hyo rips out a scream on seeing Young-mi’s lifeless body.
…and bolts awake up in the infirmary. Eun-joo, at her side, tells her she fainted. Sang-hyo wants to know about Young-mi and Eun-joo assures her she’s fine, but Sang-hyo’s confused because she remembers the body in the bathtub. Eun-joo says must’ve been a bad dream. What?!? What the hell is going on?
If it’s all a dream, Sang-hyo asks, where did it start from? Did she really marry Hae-young, or was that also part of the dream? Eun-joo scoffs that she sure dreams big and tells her to get ready to leave.
Sang-hyo asks if Hae-young really married Soo-ah. Eun-joo happily reports that Soo-ah ditched, which makes Sang-hyo even more worried, because then what happened to the wedding? Eun-joo just tells her to get it together… and drops her into a post-wedding interview with journalists and a relaxed-looking Hae-young. So… that part was definitely real.
And so was the murder: At the crime scene, forensics collect evidence. An officer shows Detective Kim the candlestick-weapon but thinks that it wasn’t the critical blow: He speculates the primary cause of death is a broken larynx, but they’ll have to wait on the autopsy to confirm.
Detective Kim sidles closer to Young-mi’s body, and with his own eyes closed, the squeamish detective reaches over and closes her eyes.
Back at their interview, Sang-hyo gets riled at the Cinderella angle the reporters keep trying to pin on her story: that by marrying Hae-young, she’s living the fairy tale. She argues that even though she was an adoptee, “I’ve never thought of myself as a girl covered in ashes.”
She also doesn’t believe in acquiring status through marriage, but despite her strong words, the reporters are locked on their Cinderella interpretation, and Hae-young has to get her to back down.
Eun-joo wraps up the interview now — because the newlyweds are off to honeymoon! This is (unpleasant) news to Sang-hyo; Eun-joo stuffs her into the car with a warning that the reporters are watching and sends them off with a big grin. Haha.
In the resort he’s inspecting, Sung-gyum crosses paths with Hong Jin-young, who mistakes him for “Goong-min Oppa” again. She’s looking for a heart-shaped stone, which he finds right away and offers her. She tells him it will fulfill his love so he must never lose it — if he does, he’ll lose his love, too.
Meanwhile, Sang-hyo grouses that Hae-young must be pleased he made her a Cinderella and got to become a prince. He begs to differ: You don’t become a prince, you’re born one. Oh lol.
Sang-hyo turns serious and asks about last night. Hae-young replays the memory of her scream and now we see what really happened: He ran into the bathroom in time to catch Sang-hyo fainting, and carried her out when he saw Young-mi’s body.
He eludes answering Sang-hyo properly, so she’s relieved because she thinks it was all a dream. Aw, honey.
At the crime scene, Young-mi’s body is removed under Detective Kim and Team Leader Cha’s supervision, and Kim notes the weird twist of Sang-hyo becoming the bride.
In the event planning office, Gi-chul sobs about Young-mi’s death, and Kyung-hee worries aloud about how he’d cope if she were to die, which upsets him more. He vows to protect her, and — he knows who the killer is.
He’s not the only one: Staff huddle in the foyer to gossip about the new murder, and a cocky male employee makes the same claim. Around the corner, Team Leader Cha eavesdrops.
Meanwhile, Slimy Manager is back at work. He tells GM Lee not to suspect him, and that he can restore his reputation — because he, too, knows who the culprit is.
At the resort — OH! As Sung-gyum passes through the lobby, we see Hae-young and Sang-hyo coming up to the entrance. They’re at the same place? This isn’t going to end well…
The couple bicker as they check in. When Sang-hyo fails to secure an additional room, they end up at the honeymoon condo anyway and she makes herself clear: Since they conducted this marriage for him to save face and for her to save the hotel and it isn’t real, he had better keep himself to himself.
Hae-young challenges her version of events, and Sang-hyo argues back: Did he think she married him (again) out of lingering feelings, or to work things out? She protests just a little too much.
She makes to unpack in the bedroom when she realizes Eun-joo filled her suitcase with little lacy nothings and other unspeakables. HAHA.
Hae-young finds his own suitcase full of goodies, thanks to his staff. He takes one look at it before snapping it shut and sitting on it soooo casual-like. HAHAHA. She literally throws him on the floor to look inside.
Oh this is great, and also I am dying: Sang-hyo examines a variety of anti-impotence supplements and enhancers, including the mighty Viagra itself (Shi-chan’s contribution). He’s adorably defensive about it while her face says she’s not buying it.
In a tussle to reclaim his Viagra, Sang-hyo lands on the bed with Hae-young on top, putting them face-to-face. In the charged moment that follows, Hae-young starts to say something about the two of them starting over, when it’s broken by a knock at the door. She flings him off. Ouch.
It’s — Soo-ah? Hae-young is surprised and unhappy to see her. She, however, is more taken aback to see Sang-hyo there, and Hae-young tells her plainly that Sang-hyo married him. I like his no-nonsense tone. But Soo-ah finds this hilarious, as well as an indictment of Sang-hyo’s low class, as a woman willing to be someone’s substitute-bride.
Moving on, though, Soo-ah calls in Ki-ho, and introduces him to Hae-young as “the person I love.” Classy.
Meanwhile, Sung-gyum’s is notified that the Gu Hae-young couple have arrived, and he heads out to say hello.
In the Suite of Awkwardness, Soo-ah admits to Hae-young that the reality of being a runaway rich girl isn’t easy: Her mom stopped her credit cards, so she has no money. She contends that she has every right to stay there since her name’s also on the reservation.
Sang-hyo just observes from the doorway, and Soo-ah repeats her dig about her being a substitute. What’s insufferable about her is that she makes them at Sang-hyo rather than to her. Hae-young raises his voice to her, and orders her out.
Outside, Sung-gyum and his guide are making their way up the steps to Hae-young’s suite.
Inside, Sang-hyo is fed up and tells them she’s leaving. Hae-young follows her to the opened door (eek, Sung-gyum is right there!) and, pulling it shut (whew!), asks her to stay.
A loud argument with Soo-ah follows, which Sung-gyum and his companion overhear outside. Sung-gyum chuckles that it must be a bad time to meet them, and heads back.
Soo-ah concedes that Hae-young can stay, but the Sang-hyo-the-Substitute must go. She starts to paw at Sang-hyo’s suitcase, and crows with mirth to discover the racy underwear, which she exhibits to Hae-young. Poor Sang-hyo is about to go for her but Hae-young holds her back. He promises to make Soo-ah leave and asks her to wait for him outside.
So Sang-hyo wanders down the path, taking in the scenery. She lets Soo-ah’s words get to her, admitting to herself that she is a stand-in. In the middle of some selca-therapy, a call comes — from Sung-gyum.
He asks what she’s doing, and she pretends (again) to be at the hotel, working. He calls her out on the act, and unbeknowst to them, they are actually within feet of each other, but facing opposite directions.
He invites her to dinner tomorrow when he’ll be back in the city, and she flounders for something to say. Embarrassed — and taking a leaf from her book — he pretends to become suddenly busy and hangs up.
Hae-young finds her just then and she goes at him with fists and feet like an angry toddler, blaming him for everything, while he ruffles her hair and enjoys the love.
Back at the hotel, Eun-joo works late into the night. She thinks back to the night before, when she had run into Hae-young (carrying an unconscious Sang-hyo), who told her to call the police because there was a body in the bathroom. She panics on seeing Young-mi…and then dead Young-mi moves and asks her, “Why did you do that to me?” This is a dream, right?
Dead Young-mi approaches Eun-joo with the candlestick and strikes her. She collapses — and wakes up.
She’s freaked out by eerie shadows and wails, but gets herself together to track the sound to the planning office, where she finds Jung-eun, bawling about Hae-young’s marriage. Eun-joo, unsympathetic, throws her out.
She comforts herself with some strange words: “You didn’t know she’d really die.”
At the resort, Hae-young and Sang-hyo sit in front of a campfire, a tent pitched behind them. So Soo-ah won that round, eh? Truthfully, he doesn’t look unhappy at all. She stalks into the tent and zips him out.
The imp gets into him and he asks her if she isn’t scared (Sang-hyo: “You’re more scary”), and isn’t she glad she’s not alone? He scores once he starts talking bears, snakes and rats, oh my: She springs out of the tent, but he’s nowhere in sight. He comes up behind her and she leaps into his arms — and so his little trick pays off, aww.
Hae-young pulls her close, holding her eyes as he asks, “Do you really think I’d leave you behind? Sang-hyo, I won’t leave you behind again.” She looks like she really wants to believe him, but the moment is shattered by a loud crash — Ki-ho’s here to join them, because Soo-ah threw him out.
In the suite, Soo-ah gripes to herself about Ki-ho leaving just because she said so — and she said so because he stopped her from ordering expensive room service. Aww, poor little rich girl. Not.
She hears the door open, and starts a self-pitying lament at Ki-ho, but she turns around to find it’s actually Sang-hyo.
Meanwhile, the boys have a heart-to-heart in the tent. Ki-ho admits he has no idea what his and Soo-ah’s next step is: Eloping together was nice, but Soo-ah is used to an easy life of good things. Love isn’t enough. Hae-young advises him that he should still try his best. Ki-ho asks, “Then would the result be different?” Hae-young doesn’t have an answer for him.
Soo-ah has her own one-sided heart-to-heart with Sang-hyo, who makes faces but listens to her words, about how Soo-ah had wanted to marry Hae-young since she was a kid. He was handsome and competent, and from a good family — the perfect catch. It perplexes her why she doesn’t love him, but instead loves her chauffeur. She feels sorry for herself, and reflects that you can’t make your heart do what you want it to do. This much Sang-hyo privately sympathizes with.
She tells Sang-hyo that she envies her: Because of her inferiority, a hotel employee like her could love a chauffeur like Ki-ho without problems. Poor Soo-ah, on the other hand, is a special snowflake cursed by good birth and wealth. If she were born a nobody like Sang-hyo, she wouldn’t have these worries. Oh, please. Somebody gag her.
Sang-hyo is so revolted that she resorts to loud snoring to shut her up. Soo-ah gives up, and instead frets that she’s so delicate she can’t sleep away from home (which makes Sang-hyo’s eyes bug out, because srsly) — but barely a second later, she’s snoring soundly herself.
Morning comes, and we can see Sang-hyo was kept awake all night by Soo-ah’s snores. Soo-ah, though, wakes up and immediately fusses that she didn’t sleep a wink because of Sang-hyo. What! Sang-hyo can hardly believe her ears.
It’s a fresh day for Detective Kim’s investigation, too. He reviews the facts of the two murders, and how Hwang’s last call was to Sung-gyum’s mother in the U.S. Then there are the words Hae-young overheard Hwang say that night, about talking to her son. He wonders how the triad of Hwang, Young-mi, and Sung-gyum might be connected.
Another detective brings Kim a new piece of the puzzle in the form of CCTV: According to the detectives, Young-mi enters the suite at 6:09 p.m., and the video then cuts to 7 p.m., with 51 minutes of footage missing (this doesn’t match up with the video’s timestamps), which means that is the killer’s window. He confirms the video was collected for archive at 6:30 a.m. the next morning.
Kim now consults with Team Leader Cha, who tells him that it must have been modified before it was stored away, right there in the Security Office. Cha suggests that while the crime was being committed, someone must have erased the recording in the office. Does this mean it was a collaborative job?
Cha admits that pretty much anyone can access the office. That particular evening was chaotic because of the wedding, with the whole team employed on the ground. Kim comments that it was a lucky opportunity for the killer, while Cha looks away.
On his way out of the hotel, Detective Kim is grabbed by the gossiping staffer, who repeats that he knows who the culprit is. This gets Kim’s attention.
Still at the resort, Sung-gyum smiles at the heart-shaped stone, and writes a congratulatory card to Hae-young and Soo-ah. He prepares to leave and asks one of the staff to deliver it.
As the ladies get dressed in the suite, Soo-ah continues to deliver insults veiled as compliments to Sang-hyo. Hae-young arrives, and avoiding her glomp, warns her not to touch him.
Wearied, Sang-hyo heads out and he tries to follow, but Soo-ah holds him up, peppering him with questions about Ki-ho which he brushes off. She bellyaches about her money predicament and won’t let him go. Exasperated, Hae-young brings down his hand — and presents her with his credit card. She’s delighted, and he goes after Sang-hyo.
As Sang-hyo walks through the hotel lobby, Sung-gyum’s assistant asks if she’s Jung Soo-ah (nope). He then asks if she isn’t Gu Hae-young’s new bride, which she confirms she is. The relieved employee hands over Sung-gyum’s card. Sung-gyum himself happens to be approaching right then — and shocked, Sang-hyo hides behind the reception desk until he passes.
Detective Kim and the staffer make it to the hotel gardens, where Kim assures him he can speak safely. Like a sneeze that’s about to come, the culprit is —
Eun-joo shows a group of journalists the newly fabled “Gu Hae-young Honeymoon Suite,” and talks it up.
…and the culprit is Yeo Eun-joo, the staffer reveals. He witnessed her threatening Young-mi, although he didn’t know what it was about.
In the honeymoon suite, the journalists want to see the bathroom. Eun-joo steels herself, remembering Young-mi’s body, and opens the door to a pristine interior.
Detective Kim, still in the gardens, receives a phone call telling him the candlestick had one person’s fingerprints on them: Eun-joo’s.
Eun-joo bids goodbye to her guests, and the smile slides from her face. She makes her way out but is stopped by Detective Kim, who wants to have a word.
At the resort, Sang-hyo secretly watches Sung-gyum from around a corner, to make sure he leaves. She worries about how he’ll take the news of her sudden marriage, when Hae-young takes her by surprise. Just seeing him makes her mad.
In his car, Sung-gyum looks glum — he left the heart-pebble behind, but it’s too late for him to turn back.
Hae-young trails Sang-hyo back to the resort suite and asks her what’s wrong. She says he should’ve cancelled the wedding. He gently asks what she means, when Soo-ah arrives and interrupts: She’s left her cell phone inside and tells Sang-hyo to get it. Hae-young offers to go instead, leaving the two women alone. Uh-oh.
Soo-ah is sad such a good oppa has to suffer by falling in love with her, and then having to fake-marry someone like Sang-hyo. “I’m a bad person,” she declares, and Sang-hyo readily agrees. Soo-ah confides to Sang-hyo that his wife from his failed marriage was a real piece of work: low-class, materialistic, a flirt —
Increasingly furious, Sang-hyo finally breaks and she launches herself at a returning Hae-young, landing a punch in his face. She flings Soo-ah’s coarse descriptions of herself at him, but Hae-young has no idea what she’s talking about. She tells the two of them to do what they want, and marches away — right into Sung-gyum, who must’ve turned back after all. Gack.
He asks her what she’s doing there. Hae-young steps up behind her and she stops short, caught between them.
Poor Sung-gyum. The whole episode was leading us to this point: with the heart-shaped stone (a stand-in for a metaphorical heart of stone?) lost, he’s now poised to lose his almost-girlfriend and maybe-love. But this is probably the worst way to find out.
Watching him thaw into a human being around Sang-hyo has been sweet, but there’s still something off about him. Maybe it’s the way he seems to look around people rather than at them, or slightly off to the left. The possibility he had something to do with Young-mi’s death is another good reason to keep him at arm’s length.
I love that Sang-hyo is no shrinking violet, and has so much fight. For example, when Hae-young asks her why she has to quibble over something so trivial as Cinderella, that’s exactly it: It’s not trivial. She’s a hard-working professional, but it’s so easy to discredit a woman. Despite her hard work and fierce ethics, it doesn’t take much for all of that not to count — what counts is that she bagged a rich and handsome man, and that’s a bigger achievement than the things she worked for. But Sang-hyo refuses to have those things taken away from her.
The other mystery in this show is how and why Sang-hyo and Hae-young broke up in the first place. What really happened? Because the more I watch them interact, the bigger a mystery it becomes. Hae-young takes every opportunity he can to win her over, but she keeps rebuffing him. While it could be the simple fear of being hurt again, the question still remains: What hurt her so much to begin with?
The playful quality of their relationship really stood out this episode. He has a blast messing with her, and they have such an easy physical rapport. If I were to put my finger on it, I would say he’s not really childish so much as he is boyish, and the same goes for Sang-hyo. It comes out most clearly when you compare how different his interactions with Sang-hyo are compared with Soo-ah, when they are together: With Sang-hyo, his face and voice noticeably soften. On the other hand, he talks to Soo-ah like a kid, or a puppy.
Although the point doesn’t need belaboring, Hae-young is much too mature and grown-up for Soo-ah and they were never a good match. While he has his immature side, it’s tempered by his position as a responsible adult in the world, and therefore is restricted to his private relationships (all two of them — Shi-chan and Sang-hyo).
Sang-hyo meets him as an equal, which adds an important dimension to their relationship, because she’s so good at taking power back — not just from Hae-young, but in other contexts, too. For example, with Sung-gyum: As her boss, the power balance skews in his direction, but she exacts respect nevertheless. That quality about her is what makes her relationship with both men so equal, but also really good at her job.
Soo-ah’s repetitive insults really got to me this hour. I’m really beginning to think she is calculatedly vindictive, using the harmless puppy veneer to give herself a free pass. That nighttime scene, where the camera pans out and suddenly shows us Soo-ah alone on the enormous bed while Sang-hyo is on the floor (compared to the boys side-by-side in matching sleeping bags), encapsulates everything that is wrong with Soo-ah’s worldview. I’m tired of how much Sang-hyo has to endure from her and I would be SO satisfied if she’d throw her a punch already. Fight, dammit! (Then again, maybe wisdom is picking your fights?)
I’ve wanted to talk Eun-joo for weeks: I had a good laugh over her sincere efforts to fix Hae-young and Sang-hyo up for a happily-ever-after being driven by her pursuit of Sung-gyum. Their frenemy-ship is so funny: She’s brassy, and the way she messes with Sang-hyo all the time is good-natured (unlike Soo-ah), if seriously unhelpful. Did she kill Young-mi? I doubt it. Since her prints are on the candlestick (and she clearly has some connection to Young-mi from that night), if she struck her, I would guess someone else finished her off.
I have a few bones to pick about the investigation. Firstly, Young-mi’s cause of death: a broken larynx? A laryngeal injury would require impact at the front of her neck, and the replay specifically showed the impact was on the back of her head. Even if we’re saying something from a skull/cervical fracture protruded into her larynx (does it work like that?), wouldn’t the primary cause of death then be a broken neck? It’s possible that the specifics themselves aren’t significant to the plot, but in a mystery where every clue counts, I think you have to be meticulous, otherwise it affects the overall integrity of the show, and how willing you are as a viewer to take that element seriously.
Team Leader Cha’s suggestion that two people were simultaneously involved in Young-mi’s murder — one keeping watch in the office, one doing the killing — is intriguing and worrying, because it multiplies both the motive and the scope of the crime (caveat: if Cha is telling the truth). Theoretically, we should be able to narrow down the suspects by who was absent at the wedding ceremony. That puts Cha and Simon on the list for sure, but there may be others who slipped out and came back, so Gi-chul and GM Lee remain suspect. With the possibility of collaborators, that also brings in Kyung-hee and Sung-gyum particularly — but also just about everyone else.
At the top of my wishlist for what next week brings: ANSWERS.