Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 11
And we’re back! Fyi, Village will have a few scheduling irregularities heading into its final weeks — yesterday’s episode was pre-empted so we’re only getting Episode 11 this week. Next week we’ll be on a regular schedule for Episodes 12 and 13, but the following week (Thanksgiving, for us Americans) will only air Episode 14 on Wednesday. That means Village will wrap on December 3.
Phew! Now that all the scheduling stuff is out of the way, let’s move on to murderers, criminals, life-threatening diseases, and all that fun stuff.
SONG OF THE DAY
eAeon – “Drug” [ Download ]
EPISODE 11: “Just Wanted to Live”
After Agasshi corners a woman in the rainy street at night, he takes her to a secluded area and injects her with drugs. He thinks, “Attraction and revulsion. Joy and horror. Heaven and hell. The only difference is one drop of SB.”
He watches closely as the drugs take effect. The victim seems to calm, and even smiles.
In the morning, a team of joggers just avoids tripping on a lump in the road that looks like a dead dog. One jogger’s eye is drawn to the grassy area nearby, where he spies the dead woman, still smiling eerily from her drug-induced euphoria.
After learning that her sister suffered from a rare hereditary illness, So-yoon reads up on Fabry disease. Among the various symptoms are irregular spots on the body and a sensitivity to pain from ice. So-yoon doesn’t know Ga-young is susceptible to the latter symptom, but she does know she has a spot on her leg, which gives her the hunch that she’s found Hye-jin’s mystery relative.
As So-yoon flips through a book in the library, she slowly becomes aware of a presence behind her…
We see the lower half of a man’s face, but when So-yoon turns around, he’s not there. She doesn’t find anyone in the neighboring aisles, but then Agasshi calls out to her. He’s back to his friendly, unassuming self, but she eyes him warily, still unsure about him.
Agasshi mentions Hye-jin and how she’d really loved the necklace So-yoon is wearing, which reminded her of her sister. At that, So-yoon relaxes and asks how they knew each other. Agasshi shares what we already knew, how Hye-jin once asked what his mother would think of him in his full-on Agasshi mode. He tells So-yoon sadly that his mother left when he was a child, and it was because of Hye-jin’s comment that he understood why—because he was a monster.
But on a different instance, Hye-jin had told him consolingly that he was better off than her—her mother had tried to kill her. She’d cradled his face in her hand, tearing up in sympathy.
Agasshi tells So-yoon that it offered him comfort to hear of someone having it worse, and he sighs that Hye-jin was really nice and didn’t deserve to die that way. So-yoon asks about the comment that Hye-jin’s mother tried to kill her, wondering what that meant.
Agasshi tells So-yoon she’s as pretty as her sister, and recalls how pretty Hye-jin looked “while waiting.” He explains seeing her in the field those days before she’d met Ki-hyun.
So-yoon already knows about that encounter, but asks Ki-hyun about what Hye-jin could have been doing that day to send her to the lake. He recalls her mentioning an errand, but doesn’t know anything about it. She tells him of Ga-young possibly having the same disease, figuring that the DNA match was for her. Because the test indicates that the genetic tie is through a maternal link, they’re running under the assumption that Ga-young and Hye-jin share the same mother. However, since they note that Ga-young’s mother seems too young to be Hye-jin’s mother, they’re not ready to accept that assumption yet (and I recall that there’s another other option—if the two aren’t sisters, they could be niece-aunt.)
Intent on finding that time capsule, Yoo-na and Ba-woo slip into Joo-hee’s empty apartment and rifle through her things until they find it. Yoo-na pulls out the plastic bag inside but doesn’t know what to make of it, just as Ba-woo recalls seeing Hye-jin sitting in this room not long before she disappeared. He’d walked in just as Hye-jin screamed in pain, clutching her head, and Joo-hee had been trying to soothe her.
He explains to Yoo-na how Joo-hee had threatened to get his father fired if he told anybody about it. Yoo-na promises to keep silent, just as they hear sounds of Joo-hee’s return. In their hurry to leave, they forget the time capsule and don’t straighten up after themselves, so Joo-hee comes home and sees the time capsule sitting out in plain view.
Ga-young uploads the photos she took of Ji-sook crying in Ki-hyun’s arms, painting it as a salacious affair between a stepmother and stepson, and looks gleeful at the outpouring on internet scorn that follows.
Assemblyman Seo has heard of the burgeoning scandal by the time he arrives home, and the first thing he does is deliver a mighty backhand to Ki-hyun’s face. Ji-sook hurries to defend him, accepting all of the blame—but when she says she let Ki-hyun comfort her because she couldn’t hurt his feelings by rejecting it, Ki-hyun’s face changes, looking betrayed.
Later, he overhears Ji-sook suggesting that they send him back to the States, assuring the assemblyman that everyone will forget as soon as he’s gone, and that nothing will affect his election. But Assemblyman Seo shrewdly points out that if she considers Ki-hyun to be her son, as she insists, why is she so flustered at the response to the scandal? He recognizes that 20 years ago she manipulated her way in by ingratiating herself to himself, then Ki-hyun: “But that’s as far as it goes. I will not tolerate you causing any further rift between me and my son.”
She wonders if he’s jealous that his son obeys her better than him, and suddenly Assemblyman Seo grabs her by the throat. He growls that she’s brought shame to him, and that two years ago he would have split with her (in the wake of her public fight with his mistress) if not for his election. He flings her aside, leaving her gasping in fear.
Yoo-na can’t sleep that night, thinking of the time capsule’s contents, and runs into her brother in the kitchen. She asks what a person could do with bloodstained clothes and hair, but drops the question when he asks why.
The next day, So-yoon heads out to the field of reeds near the lake, wondering what Hye-jin had been waiting for. Annnnnnd from a distance, Agasshi snaps photos with his monster zoom lens. Why so creepy?
Recalling how Hye-jin had an errand near the lake, So-yoon wanders the area until she arrives at the lumber mill, where she sees the carpenter ajusshi on his way out with his family. They nod at each other as ajusshi drives off, and then So-yoon startles when Agasshi shows up right behind her.
He explains how he’s known the carpenter ajusshi for ten years, who’d taught him carpentry when they’d both lived in Jeju. Now they’re neighbors again, and he muses on how deep their fate runs.
Detective Choi talks to the forensic expert about the newest victim’s case, and is told that each victim was injected with different drugs. He shudders to hear the culprit was experimenting with the effects, trying to make them die with a smile.
Woo-jae continues with the investigation without his suspended partner, and meets with Sergeant Han’s reporter contact at the paper, who agrees to help in exchange for an exclusive. He shares information about a big case from ten years ago, when an arms broker was caught and sentenced.
He links this to a man by a different name, Chairman Noh Jung-tak, a minor businessman who owns fitness centers, who recently got involved with casino dealings in Achiara. The reporter found it odd that a small businessman could have that kind of money, and suspects that Chairman Noh was the arms dealer—he served a few years in prison, took on a new identity, and used the fitness centers as his front for illegal activities. Ah, it appears Chairman Noh is the very same shadowy boss who pulls Assemblyman Seo’s strings.
Woo-jae takes this information to Sergeant Han, who is spending his suspension doing side work at a lumber factory. They speculate that Driver Yang had been telling the truth about Chairman Noh, who must have big dirt on Assemblyman Seo to render him so subservient. In an effort to save her life from the assemblyman, Hye-jin had gone over his head to deal with the chairman—ah, did she give the chairman dirt on Assemblyman Seo? But instead, she became their common enemy and wound up dead.
Yoo-na tells So-yoon about the contents of the time capsule, and although So-yoon doesn’t know what those things could mean, she does recall Joo-hee’s offhand comment about how they could be Assemblyman Seo’s weakness. She asks if the kids knew Hye-jin was sick, and Yoo-na tells her what Ba-woo saw.
Assemblyman Seo agrees to Joo-hee’s blackmail and gives her control of the school, and in exchange she hands over the time capsule. He asks why she wants the school in the first place, suspecting it’s because her sister wants it so badly, but Joo-hee feigns innocence. Seo warns her to keep this transaction a secret while Grandma’s alive, since she would clearly flip her lid to hear it.
So-yoon confronts Joo-hee about the box, and Joo-hee as usual answers in glib words that don’t convince So-yoon in the least. She says she doesn’t know why Hye-jin kept the box but thought it was strange, and lies that she threw it away. She mentions the voice recording of Seo ordering Hye-jin killed, saying that Hye-jin recorded it herself and schemed up her plan, acting like she was just the bystander.
The corpse case is neatly wrapped up when the murder is pinned on the (conveniently) dead Driver Yang. Woo-jae gapes to hear the news, but it’s good news to everyone else who just wants to sweep the case under the rug.
Ki-hyun traces the IP address of the internet posting to Ga-young and calls her in. He treats her with consideration, asking for her explanation and apologizing on his father’s behalf when he hears how Dad had insulted Ga-young and her mother (when she thought he might be her father). He won’t press charges, but can’t let her keep her job here, which she accepts. Knowing what he does about her potential disease, he asks carefully if she’s healthy, which she finds odd. She replies that she’s always healthy.
So Ga-young rejoins the high school fold as students participate in volunteer clean-up at the lake. A few girls sidle up to mock her for being fired and flirting with the art teacher, and tempers spark. Nearby, So-yoon and Gun-woo comment on the closed case, which she’s convinced is a cover-up. After all, there’s zero reason for Driver Yang to want to kill Hye-jin.
Their conversation is interrupted by piercing screams nearby. Ga-young and her rival have gotten into a shoving match at the waterside, and Ga-young is overcome with sharp pain at the contact with the icy water. Gun-woo pulls her to safety and hurriedly warms her up, asking how long she’s been like this, and So-yoon thinks back to the signs of Fabry disease.
At the real estate office, the carpenter ajusshi wraps up his errand (renting a new shop) just as Joo-hee arrives, and they freeze upon seeing each other. Joo-hee looks unnerved to know that he’s back in town, and tells the agent she wants to close up her pharmacy as soon as possible.
Ga-young cleans up after her incident in the lake, and So-yoon comes by to ask about her health and whether Hye-jin ever mentioned anything to her. Ga-young glares and dismisses her, though So-yoon takes note of the clumps of hair in the sink, which Ga-young had just been worrying over.
Ga-young finds Gun-woo and asks if he isn’t angry at her for accusing him of sexual harassment. He’s much kinder today, saying he’s not angry, though he maintains his polite distance and doesn’t answer her questions about whether he really loves Joo-hee. He’s more concerned about her health, telling her to tell her mother about today and to go to the hospital to investigate the cause.
So-yoon takes Ga-young’s hair to the DNA center and asks for a test to check her relationship to Hye-jin.
Woo-jae happens to be at the main police station just as a meeting is convened to discuss the serial killer case. He tries to loiter around but gets kicked out of the room, to his disappointment.
So-yoon meets with one of the medical researchers who’d worked with her sister’s illness, and the man recalls how sweet and uncomplaining Hye-jin had been. He also drops a bomb: that Hye-jin had been quite ill and was quickly deteriorating. She needed a kidney transplant badly, and had been on the search to locate a family member for that reason.
So-yoon’s walk home is intercut with Hye-jin taking a similar walk after getting her bad news, and So-yoon imagines seeing Hye-jin breaking down in tears. She realizes now that Hye-jin came to Achiara to find a way to live, not just to find a relative.
At home that night, Ji-sook tells Grandma gleefully that the murder case has concluded, happy to have all the unpleasantness come to an end. But as she straightens Yoo-na’s room, she’s spooked to see the drawing on the easel—it’s Yoo-na’s vision that night when she’d seen Hye-jin’s ghost.
And then, Hye-jin is suddenly in the room with her, glaring resentfully, asking, “Do you really think it’s over?” Ji-sook stares in horror, but forces it under control when Yoo-na enters the room. Ji-sook snaps at her for drawing Hye-jin, but Yoo-na points out that she only painted the back of a woman—how did she know it’s Hye-jin?
Ji-sook reels, struggling to keep her calm. And then Yoo-na gasps—blood trickles down Ji-sook’s leg. The baby.
So-yoon receives the notification that the DNA results are ready, and reads the conclusion: They’re sisters… with different mothers. Huh, so Hye-jin’s initial test cannot have been with Ga-young. What is with all the convoluted birth secrets in this town?
Woo-jae invites Detective Choi out to dinner to wheedle some information out of him, and learns about the victims being drugged. He tries to share what he learned about Chairman Noh, but Detective Choi shuts him down, reminding him that the police closed the case and warning him not to get punished like his sunbae.
Ji-sook hasn’t lost her baby, but her doctor warns her that absolute rest is necessary.
Now that the school is in her hands and worth millions, Joo-hee wants to move swiftly, telling Gun-woo to resign his job so they can move to Australia. He’s hesitant and asks if she has to go this far, but she reminds him that he wanted to leave. She’s spent her whole life in her sister’s shadow, while he’s spent his as an abandoned son: “I think we both have the right to take that much from life.”
But Gun-woo tells her he isn’t going: “I don’t want to live in luxury off money from selling Hye-jin’s death.”
Joo-hee asks, “Do you know your father has returned to the village? And you still want to stay?” That takes him by surprise. (Oooh, can she mean the creepy carpenter ajusshi?)
Detective Choi’s hypothesis is that the serial killer lives in Gangwon Province, which isn’t the obvious conclusion because the murders were in neighboring Gyeonggi Province. Woo-jae gets to work trying to find clues that would support that hunch, and adds Hye-jin’s murder to the chart, trying to see if there’s a connection.
So-yoon drops by and notices it on the chart, asking why he thinks Hye-jin’s death is a related case. Woo-jae explains his theory, pointing to the disruption in the pattern of time between killings, right after Hye-jin’s corpse was found. He speculates that the discovery agitated the killer who had regarded her with special feelings, but doesn’t know whether the serial killer was also Hye-jin’s killer.
So-yoon doesn’t think his theory is impossible, though she does point out that it feels a little forced to fit the facts. She shares her findings about Hye-jin and Ga-young being half-sisters, and asks if there’s a way to track down Ga-young’s father. (At least, the man officially recorded as her father.) Woo-jae offers to ask his sunbae, who might know more.
Joo-hee visits her mother in the hospital, who seems back to her catatonic state. Joo-hee tells her of the case being closed, and although she doesn’t believe the official story, she sighs that she wants to take the money and quit: “Now that a person’s died, I’m too scared to keep fighting. I must not have as much courage as Hye-jin.”
At that, Mom’s hand clenches tightly and she rakes a fingernail back and forth on her chair, though the rest of her body remains still. Joo-hee notices and tries to calm her, horrified when Mom keeps going even as her fingernail breaks.
Agasshi chats with the carpenter in his studio, and the instant Agasshi mentions Hye-jin waiting out near the lake, the carpenter grows tense. Agasshi asks point-blank what the carpenter’s relationship to Hye-jin was, which makes him freeze, but he’s spared from answering by his wife’s interruption.
The wife is friendly to Agasshi’s face, but after he leaves, she says worriedly that she doesn’t like the feel of him, like she’s afraid of him.
On his drive home, Agasshi sees So-yoon walking and pulls over, wanting to share a new thought with her. He explains how he’d looked at more photos from the lake and come to the conclusion that rather than waiting for someone, it seemed like Hye-jin wanted someone to see her. He invites her to come by his house to see the additional photos, and now that he’s earned her trust, she agrees readily.
So-yoon accompanies him home and looks through his camera setup as he describes how Hye-jin would stand there: “Like she was saying, ‘Look at me. Remember me.'”
That’s why he felt compelled to keep looking when she showed up every day, he says. Again he says she was really beautiful and shouldn’t have died that way—and today, So-yoon looks at him with different eyes, recalling what Woo-jae said about the killer harboring special feelings for Hye-jin.
Agasshi invites So-yoon to stay for a beer, and she takes a look around his living room while he gathers refreshments. Books, women’s clothing, wigs…
So-yoon looks at the rack of clothing, and pushes them aside to reveal… a wall of photos of herself, in the field, just like Hye-jin. Her ears pick up on a clacking sound behind her—the click-clack of walnuts, rolling around in a hand…
So we’re back to Agasshi as killer, hm? But likely not Hye-jin’s killer, it seems—if we follow Woo-jae’s line of thinking, Hye-jin’s death triggered something in the killer, whose first murder following the corpse’s discovery was sudden and didn’t fit the pattern. Did he have an urge that couldn’t be contained in the wake of violent emotion?
That’s just one theory, though I’m not sure if that fits in with what we see of the other victims and their druggings. Agasshi looked calm and attentive when he doped the victim in this episode, and his curiosity over her reaction may be morbid, but didn’t seem driven by passion or violence. And if Agasshi is out killing people, what on earth is the role of Mr. Carpenter, whose entire being screams shadiness? What is his urge that he’s trying to repress?
And oy with the birth secrets! I’d initially wondered whether Chairman Noh was the father to Hye-jin and Ga-young, but now I wonder if the carpenter should be added to the list. He frankly seems too young to have fathered Hye-jin, but I do remember that Ga-young’s mother had been victimized by a kidnapper, and it’s conceivable she was raped and survived. (Though that wouldn’t fit the killer’s M.O.) But the cryptic comment about Gun-woo (1) being an abandoned son, (2) having dirty blood, like Hye-jin, and (3) having a father newly arrived in town all fit that hypothesis. Agh, it’s still a complicated tangle at this point.
To be fair, this drama is probably the exception to the general rule where birth secrets are a tired and overused cliche to drive some manufactured action; in Village, the mysteries of everyone’s identities are part of the fabric of the show, so I don’t view them in the way we normally see birth secrets. It’s just: There are so many of them.
That said, this show is getting hella convoluted, to a level where it could actually detract from the momentum of the show. Tricky, intricate plots aren’t problematic on their own, but I find that the exposition is starting to feel long and burdensome, and the pacing tends to grind to a halt. Chairman Noh, Driver Yang, Detective Choi… there’s a lot of talking but sometimes it just feels like words.
That said, I do like that both Woo-jae and So-yoon are stepping it up on the investigation front. There was a while there where both of them seemed frustratingly dim and overly trusting, but they’re starting to connect dots and draw conclusions in the right directions, so it becomes more satisfying to watch them chase the case. I do wish So-yoon had thought to be more wary of Agasshi, but I recognize that we have the benefit of narrative omniscience, and just a few episodes ago I was all ready to trust Agasshi as well. I just hope the show takes us somewhere unexpected with the Agasshi revelation, because we still have too many episodes left to have him be the endgame, right? …Right?
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 10
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 9
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 8
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 7
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 6
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 5
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 4
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 3
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 2
- Village: Secret of Achiara: Episode 1