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Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 2

Cho-rim and Mu-gak team up to help each other, and thankfully they make a team that’s as adorable as it is mutually beneficial — even if only one of the pair is happy about it. But with a murderer on the loose, they’ll have to share confidences and learn to work together as they go after the bad guy and dig into his background.

EPISODE 2 RECAP

Mu-gak and Cho-rim exchange information and go their separate ways, but Cho-rim is stopped by a woman who recognizes her as her old classmate. Hearing the name “Eun-seul” triggers a memory for Mu-gak, when his sister — also named Eun-seul — had visited him at his workplace (he was apparently some sort of marine biologist, and she finds him in full scuba gear in a large indoor aquarium).

Eun-seul flashes a school award she’s earned, and Mu-gak rewards her achievement with an underwater arm-heart and a double thumbs up. So cute. He comes out to give her a giant hug and say how proud he is, calling her “my baby” and making her cringe at his over-the-top silliness. But they’re all each other has in the world, and he insists that makes her his baby.

This is a very different Mu-gak than the one we met previously, free with the smiles and aegyo and very affectionate with his sister. It hurts my heart to see the contrast between this man and the stoic, emotionless Mu-gak we know — to see exactly how much he lost when his sister was killed.

But I feel like it’s not so much that he can’t feel emotions, as that he won’t, as he seems to try his best in the present to tamp down his reaction to hearing his sister’s name. Mu-gak gives Cho-rim a long searching look, and asks her name.

She gives him the only name she knows, Cho-rim, and even writes it down for him next to her number. Mu-gak thought he heard the name “Choi Eun-eul,” but Cho-rim says the woman was mistaken. She leaves, and Mu-gak watches her go with an unidentifiable expression that just tears me up.

At home Mu-gak remembers finding his sister dead in the hospital, throat slashed, and his face goes hard. He vows to find Eun-seul’s murderer and kill him with his bare hands.

At the station, Mu-gak can’t win for losing, and today he catches flak from Detectives Ki and Yeh for actually catching the criminal this time. He says he’s just here to see the chief, and another officer (played by Choi Jae-hwan) seems a bit more friendly and tells him to go on in.

The chief reminds Mu-gak of his vow to break Mu-gak’s legs if he interfered again via several sharp kicks to the shin, which Mu-gak clearly doesn’t feel. The chief isn’t thrilled that Mu-gak is asking for a promotion again, but surprisingly, he agrees to give him ten days to catch a particular criminal. If he can, he’ll make him a detective. But if he can’t catch the guy, he’s never allowed to ask for a promotion again.

Cho-rim returns the beat-up car to the Frog Troupe’s lead actress, who tells her to get everything fixed like new or else. The director isn’t happy to see Cho-rim heading for a mechanic instead of rehearsing for the audition, and wonders about her partner. Cho-rim fibs that she has a partner, he’s just not in the troupe, and the director tells her to bring the guy for him to check out tomorrow. Whoops.

Cho-rim texts Mu-gak to discuss his promise to pay for the car repairs, and she has a sudden epiphany. She remembers the sauna locker room, where a patron had looked a bit too closely at her and nearly blown her cover. Mu-gak had suddenly become very animated, pretending to be recognizing her as an old friend and even throwing a hilarious satoori on for good measure.

Cho-rim thinks that he’s a pretty good actor, and starts concocting a plan. She texts Mu-gak several times, but he’s focused on what he needs to do to become a detective (so he can get access to Eun-seul’s case file) and ignores her as he eats. Oh man, how does he eat so much at one sitting!? That’s truly nauseating.

He finally responds when Cho-rim threatens to report him for a hit-and-run, and meets her at the same coffee shop. His “I’m-a-badass-cop” entrance is ruined when he hits a patch of wet floor, and he nearly bites it. PFFT. This just convinces Cho-rim that he’s capable of slapstick too, and she grins to herself at her good luck.

She’s so excited that she accidentally lets slip that he must have taken so long to come because he was busy eating a huge meal, since she can see all the different scents of his meal coming off his clothes. She offers Mu-gak a way out of paying for the car repairs — she’ll pay for the car if he’ll do her audition skit with her. Yeah, I don’t blame Mu-gak for that side-eye, because Cho-rim makes an impromptu joke, and she’s awful.

Mu-gak isn’t interested so Cho-rim resorts to begging, which just makes him angry. Cho-rim gets angry right back when he makes fun of her dream to be a comedian, and she storms out of the coffee shop. On her way out she gets a text from Mu-gak, which he’d intended to go to the chief, saying how the case he’s been given is too difficult.

This gives Cho-rim another idea, so she goes back to ask about the difficult case and offer to help. Her offer is too sweet for Mu-gak to refuse — she helps him with his case, and he helps her with her skit. Win-win.

A man gets off an airplane and makes a call, looking for a woman named Ma-ri — this is KWON JAE-HEE (Namgoong Min), a well-known chef. He’s worried that Ma-ri still hasn’t been heard from, and says he’ll call the person on the other line later.

Mu-gak asks Cho-rim how she knew where to find the criminal in the sauna, and how she knew exactly what he had to eat for lunch. He gets riiight up in her face, making her a bit flustered, though she doesn’t seem to mind (can you blame her?). She gets in his face right back, and whispers that she can tell things by smell. This time Mu-gak notices how close their faces are, and gets adorably squirmy.

Cho-rim brags that her nose is better than a police dog’s, so Mu-gak decides to test her — he goes out and hides, challenging her to find him after five minutes. She notices his shoes trailing the caramel macchiato he slipped in, and easily follows the visible (to her) trail as it winds around the courtyard outside. Mu-gak watches from atop a building, mystified at how she follows his exact path.

HAHA, Mu-gak tries to duck when Cho-rim looks up and sees him, and his well-meaning “You’re just like a dog!” falls flat. Wow, he’s got no game at all. He asks how she followed his scent without smelling anything, and Cho-rim decides to trust him. She tells him it’s not her nose that can follow a scent trail, but her eyes.

Mu-gak is understandably skeptical, so Cho-rim consents to a series of tests where Mu-gak hides a mint under a cup, and she picks the right cup (with her nose plugged) every time. When he makes her do it from the other side of the window, Cho-rim still finds the mint — even when he hides it in his mouth. Cute. He’s forced to admit that her claim to see scents must be true.

Cho-rim gives Mu-gak her skit notes, giving him homework to have the man’s part memorized by the next morning. She notices his sudden drop to banmal, and Mu-gak says he’s more comfortable speaking informally with people he works with.

After Cho-rim boards her bus, Mu-gak takes a mint out and tries to get a whiff, though he obviously can’t smell anything. When she pops back up next to him he hilariously pretends he was just stretching. She asks him to keep her unique ability a secret, and he agrees.

We see a beautiful woman (cameo by Park Han-byul), who finds herself in a sterile, stark room with only one door, which is locked. The room is set up with multiple video cameras and a television, and has bathroom facilities and a bed, but little else. She beats against the door and screams for someone to save her, but there’s no answer.

Another woman drives to the police station for a meeting, nearly hitting Mu-gak as he runs across the street. This is Lieutenant YEOM-MI (Yoon Jin-seo), here to brief the detectives on a pair of missing person cases, one of whom is the woman in the locked room. She is now identified as model Joo Ma-ri (I’m guessing this is the same missing Ma-ri that the chef was worried about), and she’s been missing for four days.

The chief gives the lieutenant some attitude, saying there are people missing like this every day, but she tells him that these cases are special. She believes them to be connected to a series of murders that have happened roughly once a year for the past four years, and we see that Cho-rim’s parents are among his victims.

There seems to be nothing that the victims have in common, other than the murderer’s method of operation. They all started out as missing persons, and were all discovered dead on the seventh day. Interestingly, they were all kept alive for six days and strangled the day before their bodies were found, and they all had a strange pattern of cuts on their left wrists that resemble barcodes.

The two currently missing people interest the lieutenant because their jobs and ages are very different than the previous victims — they’re much younger than the murderer’s preferred victims.

Mu-gak raises his hand to ask if the barcode cuts are actual usable barcodes, and strangely, nobody seems to have thought of this before. The Chief orders Mu-gak removed from the room and confronts him in his office. Mu-gak insists the case he was given to solve is too difficult, and offers to find the missing model Joo Ma-ri instead.

The friendly detective brings Ma-ri’s call records, noticing that she made a lot of calls to a certain hospital just before disappearing. He asks to bring Mu-gak with him to investigate, and the chief relents after warning Mu-gak not to do anything crazy.

The hospital that Ma-ri called turns out to be the same place that Mu-gak went with Cho-rim, which is also coincidentally in the same building as Chef Jae-hee’s restaurant. The receptionist confirms that the number Ma-ri was calling was the office of Dr. Chun Baek-kyung.

The photo behind the desk shows that he’s the same doctor Mu-gak saw in the hospital the night his sister was killed, though Mu-gak doesn’t recognize him. The doctor is on vacation and strangely, he doesn’t own a cell phone, but the receptionist does recognize Ma-ri’s photo as a patient of his.

Cho-rim busily passes out flyers for Frog Troupe’s show tonight, unaware that she’s being watched from inside the coffee shop. Dr. Chun, who is supposedly on vacation, is right here in Seoul and studying Cho-rim with a look of creepy intensity.

Later Cho-rim meets with Mu-gak at Ma-ri’s apartment building and they meet with Ma-ri’s roommates, and ask for some of her favorite clothes so that Cho-rim can see her scent. She notes that Ma-ri’s perfume is unusual, and is in fact custom-made by Ma-ri herself, which will make it easy to identify.

Next they head to Ma-ri’s agency building where she was last seen, and on the way Cho-rim asks Mu-gak which skit he chose to perform. Hee, he chose the one that was shortest, but Cho-rim is delighted that it’s also the funniest. He tells her to focus on the case for now, and on the way into the building they pass by Chef Jae-hee on his way out.

Cho-rim whirls around, having seen Ma-ri’s personal perfume pretty much all over Jae-hee, and without warning Mu-gak flings Jae-hee to the ground and demands to know what he did with Ma-ri. Of course now is when Cho-rim recognizes him as a famous chef.

Detectives Ki and Yeh have been checking out Ma-ri’s agency too, and they come out to see Mu-gak with Jae-hee on the ground and rush to shove Mu-gak off the poor man and help him up. Mu-gak insists this guy is involved with Ma-ri somehow, but Detective Ki says of course he’s involved — he’s her boyfriend. I’m so embarrassed for you right now.

Strangely, Jae-hee barely reacts to any of this… not to Mu-gak throwing him to the ground, or the detectives helping him up, and he just stares at the ground and barely nods when Mu-gak apologizes. He does wonder how Mu-gak knew he was associated with the missing girl. Reminded of Cho-rim, Mu-gak looks around for her, but she’s gone.

He finds her at the theater, and tells Cho-rim that Ma-ri and her agent had an argument and he assumed that’s why she went off the grid. Cho-rim just wants to practice since they only have an hour before they have to show the skit to the director, and she freaks out to see that Mu-gak tore the script from her book (his almost-whiny, “Then you should have told me not to rip it,” is freaking precious).

They stand nervously in front of the director, and Cho-rim nudges Mu-gak to start. Suddenly it’s like a switch flips inside him and he lights up, and he’s incredible. He’s brilliant, in fact, and the director stops them to ask who he is.

HAHA, Mu-gak’s snap back to bland and monotone is almost as funny as his outrageous acting. The director says that he approves Cho-rim’s partner, but warns her that if this is their skit, they’ll come in last. She promises to do better and the director leaves, giggling at Mu-gak’s straight man “act.” I love how Cho-rim tells him to be more serious… is that even possible? But Mu-gak is thinking about the case again, and wonders why Ma-ri was keeping her boyfriend a secret.

It’s the seventh day after Ma-ri went missing (the day that the killer’s victims are always found). A young couple drives down a secluded road, and the man leans over for a kiss. He gets distracted from the road, and hits a car that was parked next to a guard rail, shoving it down the side of the hill.

The next day Lieutenant Yeom-mi reminds the chief that the killer’s victims are always found dead seven days after disappearing, yet this is Day Eight and they haven’t found Ma-ri’s body. Since this no longer seems to be related to the same murderer, her team will be dropping the case.

But Detective Yeh tells the chief that Ma-ri’s credit card was just used at a motel, and he and Detective Ki rush off to catch whoever used the card. They pass by Mu-gak on the way out, who sneaks into their car while they decide who drives. (Also, that scene was done in one shot, and I swear you can’t see Mu-gak get in the car!)

They nab the man who used the credit card, and Mu-gak handcuffs himself to the guy and literally drags him to the cop car. They find Ma-ri’s card in the man’s wallet, but he swears he just found it on the street.

He leads them to where he found the card under a tree, and they find her wallet still there. Detective Ki bags the wallet and charges Mu-gak with taking it back to the station for evidence processing. Instead, he takes it straight to Cho-rim, who quickly identifies the scents on the wallet — leather, water, and dog. She says it seems to smell of fresh water like from a lake or river, and Mu-gak remembers a dog was chained near where the wallet was found.

He runs to the station where the chief is holding a briefing, now that they’re in charge and handling it as a kidnapping. Mu-gak interrupts to tell the chief that they’re looking in the wrong place and should be checking the river. He says the wallet was soaked in river water, and the dog who lives where it was found must have carried it there.

The cops all snicker and the chief shushes them, then loses his temper and lunges. It takes three guys to keep him from attacking Mu-gak, and he orders him never to come near his department again. Poor Mu-gak looks baffled, but he leaves after shooting a salute.

Cho-rim eats with her theater sunbae (whose name turns out to be Woo-ya), who sneers at her for picking some guy off the street for a partner. Woo-ya pulls out an identical wallet to the one Ma-ri lost, and tells Cho-rim that it looks like leather but it’s actually fake.

But Cho-rim definitely saw the scent of leather on Ma-ri’s wallet, so she calls Mu-gak to frantically tell him they have to find the source of the leather scent. They learn that a leather factory’s wastewater treatment machine broke down recently and flowed into the river, where the wallet must have soaked up the leather scent along with the river water. Bingo.

Mu-gak leads Cho-rim as they walk along the river, looking for any sign of Ma-ri. Soon Cho-rim is gasping for breath while Mu-gak seems fresh as a daisy, but he insists they have to find something on their own or the other policemen will never believe him. Cho-rim complains that this is too hard, but Mu-gak counters, “Then have you found a new skit partner?” That’s low, dude.

Mu-gak notices broken tail-light pieces in the road and wonders if an accident happened here recently. He calls the whining Cho-rim over to take a look, and she immediately fixates on something. In a haunted voice, Cho-rim says that Ma-ri’s unique perfume scent is on the road just behind him, and the two of them stare down the hill to the river in stunned silence.

COMMENTS

One of the things I really appreciate in a drama is when they don’t drag secrets or plot points out needlessly, and I’m so pleased that Girl Who Sees Smells is getting right to the point, right away. Mu-gak found out Cho-rim’s secret pretty quickly, and they’re already working together to find a killer — though neither of them knows yet that it’s the same killer who altered their own lives four years ago. Mu-gak is still holding onto his own secret that he can’t feel, smell, or taste anything, but I have a feeling he won’t be able to hide that from the super-observant Cho-rim for long. Heck, one meal with him will clue her in that this guy is not in any way normal.

I mentioned their individual acting abilities in my first recap, and I’m thrilled to see that together, they’re even better. The chemistry between Park Yoochun and Shin Se-kyung is perfect so far, even before it gets into romantic territory. Mu-gak and Cho-rim’s personalities play off each other in a way that enhances their differences, yet softens the sharp edges in them both. Cho-rim is a bit more grounded when she’s around Mu-gak, and he’s being pushed out of his comfort zone in regards to getting close to people, since he has to let her close, in order to use her ability to get the promotion he wants. I love the little moments of humor between them, like when Cho-rim tells Mu-gak to be more serious or when Mu-gak tries to compliment her and totally flubs it. I even bought the one tiny moment where they each seemed to become aware of the other as an attractive person of the opposite sex — and I don’t even feel it’s too soon in the story. At this point, it wasn’t anything other than physical awareness, nothing more than “Hey, this good-looking man/woman sure is close to my face right now.” Which, I mean, LOOK at them both. If they didn’t notice the other is highly attractive, I’d call shenanigans on that so fast.

As to our main plotline involving the murderer, I’m impressed with a lot of the observations that you readers made in the Episode 1 Recap comments. I think it’s a sign of a compelling story that so early on, there are so many speculations and theories flying, and I found myself thinking a lot about the theory that Dr. Chun may not be working alone. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who killed Eun-seol in the hospital, but what if he wasn’t the same person that chased Cho-rim that night? What if two people are working together, and that’s why Dr. Chun accidentally killed the wrong girl? Not to mention, the Barcode Murderer seems to prefer kidnapping and strangulation, yet Eun-seol’s throat was slashed.

And there are so many other inconsistencies, such as how in the present, he’s apparently still in Seoul when he’s supposed to be on vacation. And who doesn’t carry a cell phone in this day and age, especially a doctor!? Lots of interesting things to think about when it comes to this guy. And I certainly think that Chef Jae-hee also seems to be a shady character. His restaurant is in the same building as Dr. Chun’s practice, and his reaction to being basically assaulted for no reason by Mu-gak was definitely not normal. He didn’t even seem to care. At this point I can see the plot taking us in a lot of different twisty directions and honestly? I’m up for any of them.

One last thing I didn’t mention before — the CGI of the scents that Cho-rim sees. I’ve seen a lot of really bad CGI in dramas, and I also (along with many of you, it seems) worried that it would come across looking cheesy or dumb. I’m delighted that not only do the scents not look stupid, but they’re actually quite beautiful. I love how they not only involve colors but also shapes, making the scents easy for us as viewers to identify right along with Cho-rim. The little touches like the dog scent appearing as paws, or the mint manifesting as silver snowflakes, are quite lovely and vivid. I’ve noticed a lot of attention to detail (like how Park Yoochun never forgot to let his “injured” arm swing awkwardly in the mall chase scene, or Shin Se-kyung walking carefully around the spot where the coffee was spilled even after it was cleaned up) that make me appreciate that this show won’t be sloppy or make mistakes in it’s storytelling. So when something seems “off,” like how the killer could have killed the wrong girl after being so close to her face just a short while before, I trust that it’s not an oversight and that there will be an explanation, if I’m willing to trust and give the show a chance.

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The green light skit, I LOL so hard thanks to chunface..

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Just started watching and I'm a bit confused... maybe someone can help me out even though I see a lot of comments, I'm not sure if someone has mentioned this before: That detective lady says they were all kept alive and then murdered on the day before their bodies were found, but that's not what happened with Eunsul/Chorim's parents. They were murdered in their home days before their bodies were put on display out on the beach. Am I right or did I misunderstand what all happened in that first episode??

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How does Mu-Gak eat that much without throwing up? If I were him, I'd use the inability to feel pain to make myself unable to feel hunger so I can diet properly and my inability to feel pain would allow me to keep working out and push myself. Granted, since he's a policeman, he'd rather have a lot of energy than starve.

I ROFLed when he said "You're just like a dog!" Not the best way to compliment a girl.

Namgoong Min returns from My Secret Hotel. He looks like some character that hides lots of secrets like he was in My Secret Hotel.

I think Mu-Gak is being a bit too reckless just because he has Cho-Rim who can detect smells like that. I think he needs to be cautious before presenting Cho-Rim's ideas like that.

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IS it just me or because I just watched Rooftop PRince Again --while catching up on eps of Sensory Couple? --- Why does it feel like the writer subtly reminds us of RP in SC? I mean from Mugak passing out on the water shot to the exact butterfly image on the bus stop to the candy mint.....hahaha, I guess it's just me fan girling.

Thank You, Dramabeans. As it has always been, your recaps are beautifully insightful!

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