Rating:
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Circle: Episode 3

I can’t believe there’s only one month left of this show. Please don’t leave me, Circle, because you are just THAT amazing. Just when I thought I could see the ends of the mystery unraveling, shocking plot twists suddenly blew all my theories to smithereens. And the rich ethical questions raised by the existence of memory-altering technology are so fascinating that I want to explore every facet of that technology’s implications.

 
EPISODE 3 RECAP

Bum-gyun limps toward an old abandoned building in the dark when his phone rings—it’s Woo-jin, telling him to come home. Bum-gyun tells his brother that he’ll be right there after he checks something out, and tells him that the culprit is Bluebird. But as he hangs up the phone, a bright white light—reminiscent of the UFO beam from their childhood—blinds him, and he stumbles back.

Part 1: Beta Project

The scene cuts to a tense confrontation between Woo-jin and Jung-yeon, where he asks if she is really who she says she is. She’s confused initially and becomes afraid as he grabs her collar, but she quickly recovers and brushes his hand aside as she says that he’s as deranged as his brother if he believes she’s an alien.

Having evidence from the hidden camera of her having been in his brother’s motel room, Woo-jin demands to know why she would search a crazy man’s room. She claims that it’s because she thought that Bum-gyun was the murderer because he showed up at each of the suicide scenes. Woo-jin reveals that Bum-gyun is missing and grabs her as he accuses her of being the real culprit.

That’s when the senior (who was picking on Woo-jin earlier) comes up to them to defend Jung-yeon. Woo-jin tells him to buzz off in a blatant sign of disrespect that causes the sunbae to throw the first punch in what becomes an all-out brawl. They’re taken to a police station, where Chief Hong is working on the Handam serial suicide case.

When Chief Hong overhears that Woo-jin is Bum-gyun’s brother, he suddenly takes an interest in him and begins asking nosy questions about Bum-gyun’s whereabouts. Woo-jin desperately pleads for Chief Hong to look for his brother because he’s definitely missing—it’s unlike Bum-gyun not to keep in contact with Woo-jin even throughout all his obsessive hunts for the alien.

Jung-yeon watches the entire conversation play out, seeming to understand the direness of the situation for Woo-jin now that she’s been given the full context for his outburst.

When they’re finally released, Jung-yeon looks up at the sunbae with a flirtatious smile, asking him to cover for her if her father asks about her. But she leaves with Woo-jin, who is perplexed by where she’s leading him. Regardless, he ends up following her when she says she has more information on the serial suicide case that his brother was tracking when he went missing.

She brings him to a modest single room that she’s been keeping for her private use to pursue the murderer. She shows him her logbook that contains the records of all the strange deaths that have been occurring at Handam, and when he asks her why she’s so interested in this case, she pulls out a photo of herself and her best friend, So-yoon. She was one of the first victims, and Jung-yeon begins tearing up as she reminisces about their close friendship.

This brings Woo-jin immediately back to an old memory of himself and Bum-gyun watching something extremely sad on TV while the blank-faced alien just stared on. When Woo-jin asked the alien if it didn’t feel sad, it replied in the affirmative, asking Woo-jin why it should feel sad. The stark contrast between the crying Jung-yeon in front of him and the ever-stoic alien diminishes his suspicion of her.

She then tells him a key piece of information: Approximately a month before each of the victims died, they began acting weird and suffered frequent nosebleeds and headaches. Jung-yeon asks if she can see Bum-gyun’s research, and they go back to the motel room where the innkeeper is throwing out his stuff. He tells them that they’ll have to pay the late rent fees if they want it.

With all of Bum-gyun’s stuff in tow, they go back to school, where Jung-yeon sees the camera full of her pictures. She asks why his brother thought she was an alien, and Woo-jin tells her that it’s because she resembles someone from their childhood.

Seeing a list of students in Bum-gyun’s notebook, Woo-jin remembers that one of his classmates listed in the notebook, Kim Nan-hee, also had a severe nosebleed that made her leave class.

They run to her dorm where an old security guard tries to stop them from entering, but they push through anyway. When they get to her room, it’s in complete disarray (with flecks of blood everywhere), and when Jung-yeon looks out the window, she sees Kim Nan-hee’s silhouette standing on the edge of a tall building.

Woo-jin and Jung-yeon run to her, but she jumps before they even get close, and they witness her fall. They look upon her oddly broken corpse, and in horror, Woo-jin sees a bright blue worm crawl out of her nostril.

Chief Hong is alerted as soon as the suicide is reported, and he interviews the same security guard from Kim Nan-hee’s building, who tells him about Jung-yeon and Woo-jin having searched for her right before her death. He also tells Chief Hong that before them, another small female student had come looking for Nan-hee as well.

As he gets some refreshments for a shell-shocked Jung-yeon, Woo-jin ponders his brother’s last statement to him, wondering if Bum-gyun meant “blue bug” and not “bluebird.” Jung-yeon blames herself, thinking that if they had only gotten to Kim Nan-hee a little faster, this wouldn’t have happened. They have a quiet moment of solace, understanding each other’s mutual sadness.

Professor HWANG YONG-WOO stares out the window, tapping his unlit cigarette in frustration. Professor Park, who seems to be a subordinate of his, sidles up by his side and remarks that kids nowadays are so weak and extremely emotional (perhaps referring to the recent suicides). Professor Hwang snaps his cigarette in half and reprimands Professor Park by telling him to watch his words.

In the dead of night, Woo-jin and Jung-yeon take a flashlight to search the spot of Nan-hee’s death for any sign of the blue bug. When a guard comes patrolling near them, Jung-yeon quickly rolls Woo-jin on top of her to keep them out of sight.

But even after the guard passes, Woo-jin doesn’t get off, and she becomes alarmed for a moment. Rather than having bad intentions, he picks something off her neck.

It’s the blue bug from before, which they take to the school lab to analyze. Woo-jin cuts it open, and a green pus oozes out. In the middle of the bug’s abdomen, there’s a small microchip embedded, and they realize that this is the reason the students were dying. They research on the web, but they can’t find any details on microrobots.

Woo-jin and Jung-yeon share a sweet moment as he worries for her because she doesn’t seem to sleep and keeps drinking coffee, and in reply, she places a bandaid on his cut. When they leave the library, it’s already the next day, and Jung-yeon has to make an excuse for not having come home to her father.

When he’s relaxing back at home, Woo-jin can’t seem to get Bum-gyun’s last words about the “bluebird” out of his head, and when he glances at the post-it that Jung-yeon first gave him at their initial meeting, something clicks. He immediately runs to her private dormitory, but she’s not home.

He asks to wait in her room, and once the door shuts behind him, he begins searching through all her things. At the windowsill, he discovers a pot covered by a book, and underneath it, he finds a living blue bug crawling in the dirt. Now we see that her post-it had contained her email address, [email protected].

The shot quickly jumps to Jung-yeon, who faces the same abandoned building that Bum-gyun had been in front of before he disappeared. We also see glimpses of Bum-gyun confined in a dark cellar, banging on doors and yelling for a way out.

Part 2: Brave New World

Joon-hyuk wakes up in pain in Ho-soo’s pristine white apartment, which is when he receives a call from Dong-soo saying that his systems were hacked by the mythical “Bluebird.” Joon-hyuk tells him to forget about Bluebird for a second so that he can concentrate on a different lead.

Ho-soo returns to his apartment to find Joon-hyuk making a mess in his living room, since he’s kneading dough for breakfast croissants. They have a little back-and-forth as they disagree on food tastes, reaffirming their dislike of each other. (Aww, what a cute couple.)

Later, Joon-hyuk reviews case notes, concentrating on the information on Park Jin-gyu, Min-ji’s foster father. Joon-hyuk wants to access Jin-gyu’s memories to check what happened on the day of her kidnapping, but when he brings up that he’ll be doing the check on Ordinary Earth, Ho-soo violently protests, saying that it’s illegal to access Human B systems on Ordinary Earth. Joon-hyuk is suspicious of the organization’s motives and believes that the data will be uncorrupted if extracted on Ordinary Earth.

Displeased, Ho-soo reports directly to the mayor, who asks him if the idea of Human B tampering with people’s memories could be a possibility. Ho-soo vehemently disagrees with Joon-hyuk’s suppositions, but complies with the mayor’s request to just keep an eye on the detective.

As an elected official with the trust of all the city’s citizens, the mayor says that he will allow Joon-hyuk to go about the case in his own way, because he acknowledges that Human B—no matter how great it seems to be—is still a corporation with its own interests at heart.

As he leaves the room, Ho-soo experiences a headache that’s accompanied by auditory hallucinations of a woman calling his voice. But he quickly calms down through the help of his implanted Stable Care chip.

Joon-hyuk and Ho-soo meet at the hospital where Park Jin-gyu is recovering from the injuries that a rogue Min-ji gave him. Joon-hyuk confronts the foster father with a tape recording of his own voice on the day of the kidnapping, where he called 911 to report Min-ji’s case.

Joon-hyuk keeps accusing him of being a murderer, and the man, despite being a Smart Earth citizen with the implanted Care Chip, raises his voice and becomes visibly angry. After he calms down, he agrees to do anything that will restore his precious Min-ji back to him, and so Joon-hyuk and Ho-soo procure the agreement necessary to extract Park Jin-gyu’s memories on Ordinary Earth.

Deputy Chief Lee and his second-in-command, Secretary Shin, meet to discuss the new strides that Joon-hyuk has been making in discovering Human B insider secrets.

Back on Ordinary Earth, Dong-soo prepares to extract the memories from Park Ji-gyu and explains the process to Detective Oh, even though he thinks he’s too stupid to understand. Chief Hong steps in and starts spewing complicated technical jargon about the process, and apparently, it’s all correct because Dong-soo’s jaw drops.

Joon-hyuk meets a lady in front of the building, and it’s revealed that she’s the doctor who will be performing the operation necessary to access the Care Chip embedded in Park Jin-gyu’s head. Once Dong-soo hooks up to the Care Chip system, the servers on Human B are notified of the breach, and Deputy Chief Lee tells Secretary Shin to take care of it by any means necessary.

She brings a squad of goons to the building where Joon-hyuk & Co. are extracting Jin-gyu’s memories. A fight breaks out between Chief Hong’s cops and Human B goons until Joon-hyuk comes out and freezes the crowd by shooting bullets into the air. He aims the handgun at Secretary Shin, who tells him that his actions to extract Park Jin-gyu’s memories are a clear violation of intellectual property laws.

He tells her to report it to the police—but oops, he is the police, so he tells her under no uncertain terms that he’ll welcome Human B’s request for an investigation because that means that he’ll have access to all their information as part of law enforcement. Otherwise, it’d be obstruction of justice. Thus, while staring daggers at Joon-hyuk, she leaves after calling the Human B deputy chief, who tells her to leave without creating a more of a fuss.

After some battling with Human B’s security firewall, Dong-soo almost breaks through. But suddenly, Bluebird’s signature pops up again, showing that the hacker is on Human B’s team.

Frustrated by the lack of progress, Joon-hyuk just rushes out with no plan and only his gun to confront Human B for tampering with people’s memories. Chief Hong follows him out and literally knocks some sense into him, reminding him that he needs to take logical steps in order to save his brother.

Ho-soo experiences headaches and nosebleeds as well as quick flashbacks of a woman who waves at him in front of a familiar cafe. He begins to think that perhaps Joon-hyuk’s suspicions may be right, and if so, these flashes may be memories returning to him.

The doctor bandages up Joon-hyuk’s cut and asks him if he really can’t forget everything and live his life as he is now. Joon-hyuk replies that he’s doing this so that he can do exactly that: forget. He stands up to leave and reminds her to eat more, and the scene is strangely reminiscent of Woo-jin telling Jung-yeon to get more sleep earlier on. (Is this a hint? Or a misdirect?)

Ho-soo goes to the cafe where he remembers seeing the flashes of the mystery woman. When he sits at the same table his forgotten memories point him to, he shakes with the stress of returning emotions, until his eyes land on a board full of photos. To his shock, he spots a shot taken of him with his arm around the woman from his memories.

Finally, it comes flooding back to him—she tied his tie for him here, smiling at him with adoration. The cafe owner greets him, saying that it’s been a while since she’s seen him, and she confirms that the woman in the picture was his girlfriend, who passed away a long time ago. He can only stumble outside, half-laughing, half-crying with grief and bewilderment.

Meanwhile, back at Ordinary Earth Team HQ, Dong-soo works for hours trying to hack the Human B system. He’s about to give up when he finally breaks through and discovers Bluebird’s whereabouts. Using GPS, he’s able to track Bluebird, and Joon-hyuk rushes out to track the hacker by car while Dong-soo guides him.

But suddenly, the entire system stops, and thinking it’s a power failure, Dectective Oh goes downstairs to the master switch box only to find that Ho-soo was the one who pulled the cord.

When Joon-hyuk comes back, he drags Ho-soo outside to demand answers. Overwhelmed, he pushes the Smart Earth official against the wall and shouts that Human B is fooling them all by messing with their memories.

A conflicted Ho-soo replies that if having no memories makes someone happy, isn’t that all that matters? Joon-hyuk disagrees, saying that when you no longer have memories, you are no longer yourself.

Ho-soo reveals that he’s afraid of his memories coming back, and Joon-hyuk also reveals that he doesn’t know who he is because he’s an amnesiac.

In a flashback, we see that when he first woke up in the hospital, Chief Hong had showed him a video of the two twins, one of which could be him, and told him that from on, his new name would be Kim Joon-hyuk.

 
COMMENTS

Well that wasn’t as huge of a cliffhanger as the end of Part 1, but Ho-soo’s character development was lovely. Lee Ki-kwang definitely wasn’t really on my radar until now—I love his nuanced portrayal of Ho-soo as a conflicted individual who now understands that he’s been betrayed by the system of technology that he so believed in, but one who also doesn’t want it to stop for fear of the emotional pain returning.

This really was his episode to shine with all those reveals coming out about his past memories. He looks like he’s going through the denial phase of the five stages of grief, but I think he’ll rally to the right side soon enough, as Human B’s attempts to cover up their biggest secret will inevitably lead to even greater transgressions. Because at heart, I think Ho-soo’s philosophy most closely aligns with Mayor Yoon’s—safety of the citizens over all other priorities—which is why I think Ho-soo had such conviction regarding the necessity of the Human B system in the first place.

I didn’t feel that there was much development for Joon-hyuk this episode, although we did see glimpses of his burgeoning relationship with Ho-soo and his past friendship(?) with the doctor. Though I’d much rather keep this as a straight sci-fi rather than a love story, it’s only because I’m much more excited in the main stories: The chase in pursuit of the mysterious murderer in Part 1, and the chase in pursuit of the mysterious chairman in Part 2. Could they be the same person?

Also, what happened to Min-ji? Uhhh, I know that Joon-hyuk is really focused on rooting out the corruption behind Human B, but she is technically a murderess on the loose who could be killing someone right at this moment. I know Bluebird is important and everything, but shouldn’t the cops be more concerned about tracking her whereabouts down and keeping her on lockdown until the whole memory PTSD episodes are resolved? And is her case somehow related to the alien as well?

Here are just my personal theories based on the information we have so far, so please read with a healthy pinch of salt. I suspect that Professor Hwang and Professor Park are up to no good; perhaps they’re collaborating on a super-secret project of creating microrobots that are the beginning stages of the mind-controlling Care Chip of 2037. I think Deputy Chief Lee might be Woo-jin’s sunbae, who beat him up this episode because their last names are the same. While I understand that Lee is an extremely common last name in Korea, the sunbae also works in Professor Park’s lab and could have been inducted into the Care Chip project at some point. In addition, twenty years later, he’d be about forty, which is about the age that Deputy Chief Lee looks to be.

My final wild speculation is that Jung-yeon is actually the alien from Woo-jin and Bum-gyun’s childhood. Their father left them for a different reason, but her time with their family helped her understand human emotions and led her to care for them and guard them from afar as they grew into adults. However, along the way, she discovered that some technology from her home planet was being used by the humans (e.g. Professor Hwang and Professor Park) for a nefarious purpose, and tried to stop them. She kidnapped Bum-gyun for his own safety because he was getting too close to the truth, and because she was afraid that the evil humans would destroy him once they realized he knew everything. However, the mysterious chairman is actually Woo-jin, who ends up heading the Human B project once a tragedy hits in 2017 (perhaps the death of Jung-yeon), that makes him believe that living a life free from bad memories is the way to true happiness.

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Am I the only one that finds Part one waaaaay more compelling than part two? I just cant get behind any of the drama going on in smart earth - like who is Min-ji? Why should I care? The point is - I don't, especially after being thoroughly taken in by present day Woo-jin and Jeong Yeon. Their chemistry is literally off the charts.

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Have you watched episode 4. I was more inclined to beta project too until I watched episode 4..

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I agree. I enjoyed part 1 and found it to be an exciting go, go, go turbo-charged solve-the-mystery, but there's also a certain beauty to be appreciated in the more contemplative, thoughtful mood of part 2, where ethics are questioned, and choices are contemplated again.

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I agree completely even after watching episode 4 I find myself wanting more from part 1. I do feel the parts are connecting more now though, and they are somehow working together simultaneously.

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I'm not as emotionally invested in part one as I am in part two. Joo Hyuk and Ho Soon's loss of identity is hitting me in the heartstrings. And I'm rooting for them to get all their memories back and learn something from each other.

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Minji is the child who got kidnapped in 2017(one of the unsolved cases of Chief Hong), it hasn't been shown in the 2017 timeline yet. Episode 4 is the best episode so far because it showed who Joon Hyuk is.

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To be honest, I just find the whole show to be damn fascinating. Beta Project would not have nearly as much impact as it does if we weren't suddenly tossed into this dystopian future where everyone's memories can be altered and taken away. I'm not sure why you don't find all this compelling when it's pretty much all the Beta Project is leading up to.

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There's no emotional resonance with Joon-hyuk, nor is there a sense of ticking time the way there is in Beta Project, where we have Woo-jin trying to find his brother and people dying and the mystery with Jung-yeon who may or may not be an alien. I just feel there's a block in Part II where I see things happening and it's interesting, but I don't really care because it's not happening to characters I care about, with the exception of Ho-soo. Even the deaths in Part II feel removed. Not to mention, it seems like Min-ji has been forgotten.

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Agree! With Beta 1, you know exactly who is who and the emotional connection is there with all the characters. I'm more invested in their stories because I,ve gotten to know them in the last 2 episodes.

I do care about those in 2037 in a different way. I feel for Joon-hyuk and Ho-soo's frustrations and confusions but it's mostly a guessing game and more questions for me.
I can't really get into Joon-hyuk's character because I don't know who the heck he is. Even if he finds out who he is I'll always question it since his memory has been tempered with. There is always that what if...

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Episode 4 should get you there emotionally.

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Like KIP says, there's no sense of urgency in part 2. In Part 1 we're made to care about these boys and their feelings and I find myself at the absolute edge of my seat when anything threatens them. In Part 2, I feel sort of thrown in the middle of everything and as KIP says we don't get the form a connection to these characters. And I get that that's the point, that we're supposed to be a little thrown off and in the dark, but that just doesn't work for me, I guess. I do find it interesting, because it is a cool story line, but since the characters have not been set up yet in an emotionally resonating way, I don't care as much. So that's why I don't find it as compelling, even though its supposed to be what part 1 is leading up to. Though perhaps I'll change my tune when I watch ep 4 and we learn more about Joon Hyuk and his world.

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Believe me, you will!

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I honestly just watch the first part aswell and wait for the recap to check what happened in the second. Second part is more of a sausage fest for me and doesn't really interest me.

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That's exactly what I do - read the recaps for part 2

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I think it's cos Part 1 is more emotionally grounded and Part 2 more cerebral - in that there's stuff to analyse.

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I have felt the same but the mystery in part 2 is drawing me in. (*waiting only semi-patiently for episode 4 recap to post)

I agree about Woo-Jin and Jeong Yeon's chemistry - it is great.

For me, the name if the drama says it all. Everything in part 2 is going to circle back around with events from part 1. We just haven't seen everything we need to know from Beta Project yet, so Smart Earth happenings feel disjointed and off-kilter. But as more in Beta is revealed, more of part 2 will make sense. We are slowly seeing our early assumptions (or at least mine) proved false with each new episode.

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It varies for me!

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The only advice I can give to whoever want to watch Circle is 'Don't forget to breath'.

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Hahaha, I actually had to remind myself to do this at the end of part 1 when I was watching.

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Beside the forget-how-to breath moment, I usually end Beta Project with a high pitched scream of disbelieve and rage that the episode is ended already. Damn cliffhanger!

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Yesss!! Just when things keep getting interesting, I am literally on the edge of my seat, Beta Project ends and I throw the pillow I was clutching in my lap, at the screen screaming "That's it?That's where you decide to end it?? %&(@()@!!". It takes a minute to calm down and get into Smart Earth :D

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And some more advice : don't think about how fast it's going to end. #cryinglikesunjae

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Ack, crying JUST like Sun-jae. I miss that show, too...

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It had been a while for a show that managed to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout the episode since Signal. Hope the story maintains its momentum.

Thanks tineybeanie for the recap. ??

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Part 1: The 'alien' definitely had me going this episode. I was totally being lulled into a false set of security (especially by creating that romantic vibe). Question is, why did she play along with the blue bug? She could have denied seeing it and now Woo-jin knows about the nanotechnology. Maybe she has false memories implanted and sometimes she reverts back to her original self? Almost like dual personalities. So her good self doesn't remember what creepy alien self is doing. Is she even an alien?????

Side note: I had total Alien vibes when the bug came out of her nose. Until it was revealed it was a robot/chip I was thinking it could be a larvae or something using humans as hosts. Then when Woo-jin put it near his ear I had Matrix flashbacks "it's gonna crawl inside!!" *shiver*(*/∇\*)

Do we suspect either professors of engineering the blue bug chips, maybe using possible 'alien' technology?

Part 2: oh man. Poor Kikwang. I felt so bad as his memories started to return. Which, seem to be similar symptoms to the college kids who killed themselves - so maybe it's an indication of returning memories. He said he preferred to live in denial and be "happy", but I am not sure I believe him completely. Maybe he is deluding himself, I mean his world as he understood it is slowly unraveling, but he could come to realize that he is living a fantasy and decides to keep his memories. I hope that he becomes a trusted sidekick as Joon-hyuk tries to take down Human B.

Bluebird is Human B? I assumed Bluebird was against Smart Earth, that Bluebird was possibly the alien girl? Are we being purposefully misled and Bluebird is separate from Human B and not what we think it is. This show plays with misdirection all the time. Oh the possibilities!! Wahh!!! My brain hurts!!ヾ(。๑﹏๑)ノ゙

I think we can assume that Joon-hyuk is one of the brothers. But, of course they were very clever and had both brothers playing rubiks cubes so as to throw us off the trail and blur our previous assumptions. The rubiks cube can no longer be a definitive indicator that he is Woo-jin. I have a feeling he is Bum-gyun just because it seems the least likely.

So many crazy possibilities and theories!! I love it!! This is definitely my new crack drama!! (✿ ♥‿♥) I am so glad I pre-wrote my thoughts. Cuz, everything changed after seeing episode 4!

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Jeez. That is a really long post. Sorry guys! I guess I had lot to say!!!

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Ah, you wrote this first before watching ep4. I'll do this next week. ? I can not comment my thoughts yet because I'm mixing the last two episodes in my head.

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I was pretty sure that Joon- Hyuk was Woo-Jin but this episode again throws doubt in that assumption by showing small clues like both brothers solving rubix cube and Joon-Hyuk kneading bread. Also his determination almost bordering on obsession to prove Human B is not what it seems.

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The bread part made be doubt as well. Because I mostly relied on the rubik I thought he was Woo Jin but I'm full of doubts

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The kneading bread didn't even give me cause for notice; I should really pay more attention! Well, I suppose that's just another reason for me to re-watch episodes!

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LOL I was reading you comment and I was like, "Wasn't I just spazzing with you about Episode 4?" Then you mentioned you had this pre-written! Good idea! I should do the same. You can just never 100% tell the twists and turns every episode.

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Right after each episode I write my thoughts down cuz I know I won't remember later. Hahahaha.

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Me too! That whole time Woo-jin was holding the wormy thing to his ear or Jung-yeon's eyes I was literally yelling at my screen to get the bug away! I got nightmares from that scene in the Matrix. Ughhhh

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That entire scene I was just waiting for the bug to break his skin and burrow inside! Matrix has scarred me!

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Ah, yes, Matrix trauma is REAL. I was doing the same thing.

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I was oscillating all episode - she is - she isn't!!!

And the bug sent shivers down my spine whenever they put it near their face!!! I'm screaming - Are you Insane!! Get that away from you!!

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I meant vascillating - see - that's what creepy blue bug does to one's vocabulary!

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ugh, i just want to know everything already, LOL. i love this drama so much

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Thank you for the recap!

This series is SO good. I love the mystery around Jungyeon; writing it all out on paper, the going back and forth of "is she or isn't she" might seem stale, but it's handled so expertly here that I never feel like we're running in, well, circles. Every time we take a step forward to "she's human and it's just a coincidence", there's another step that says "no, she's definitely that alien". It's a mystery and I can't wait to discover the answer.

I loved the confrontation at the end between Joonhyuk and Hosoo and their wildly different philosophies about memory. It's wonderful because each man arguably has a point (well, Hosoo has a point as long as someone KNOWS their memories are manipulated and wants them gone, like he seems to). Kim Kangwoo and Lee Kikwang were both stellar there.

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Yes! I keep vacillating on whether or not Jung-yeon is good or bad! I was totally thinking ok, she is good (they even built up some romantic tension), then BAM! he finds a bug in her room and she is staring ominously at the building Bum-gyun is being held captive in. They even had me questioning if she was really the same person as the alien. She doesn't have the neck scar right? And she shows emotion just unlike the alien. But, that last 5 minutes had me questioning everything that proceeded it.

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Me too. I am wondering if JY is the alien or not, whether she is the good guy or not. Her behavior is vastly different from the alien's; she doesn't have the scar on her neck, but why do I feel she's the alien? The show is very good at making us agonize over her real identity, as with JH's. And at the same time, keeping the tension taut and never making us feel like we are repeating the motions once again.

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The way the cast depict fractured memories coming back is haunting; the stellar directing and writing shines through as well. I've had memory issues for the last 10 years thanks to a horseback riding accident, and the way memories resurface with no perceived trigger is spot-on in this show. The PTSD/anxiety events that I've had are just as disorienting as they show them here. This is only one, tiny sliver of why I love this show, and each carefully crafted detail causes me to watch each episode multiple times to make sure I processed each one. Reading the recaps, I've still missed a lot! So much is happening, and I'm loving how I can repeat-watch these episodes to enjoy new nuances like I do with favorite books of mine. If there was a way to hug this show, I would.

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Memory altering technology is dangerous. While i think that in the short term it may seem beneficial, HoSoo will soon realize that its negative effects far outweigh the "good". And its possible smart earth is nothing more than a big pitrie dish of Human B masquerading itself as something good.

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Thanks for the recap! Just in a hurry to comment sometimes that I forget!

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Watching Circle makes me change my mind every episode thanks to the well-executed twists and turns. Is she or isn't she? The Beta Project half of the show is certainly the more intense adrenaline-pumping part, that time just flies by in an instant. YJG+GSY = <3.

When the blue bug came out of the girl's nostril I jumped out of my seat and might have let out a scream. That was completely unexpected, I was so shocked T . T

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*shudders at the memory* that was so gross. I was getting some Alien vibes. Not cool man. Creepy!! Note to self: in the future don't eat while watching.

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Oh and another thing, I thought Ho-soo's confrontation scene with Joon-hyuk at the end was really well-acted. The poor thing, not only was he subjected to terrible shock from his returning memory, he was in so much pain that he would rather deny having that memory at all. I wonder what happened to his girlfriend? It seemed like her death invoked a lot more guilt and regret than just simply sadness. But I can't really blame him for choosing to stay in his safety bubble; it's very relatable. Lee Ki-kwang could use a bit more help in the expression department but I really like his voice modulation here. LKK Hwaiting, (and Highlight Hwaiting!!!)

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I love the last scene too. It's not only well acted, it also raises a lot of questions for us. What are memories? What are we with or without our memories? Can we be a whole person without certain memories, especially the traumatic ones, which probably will make us grow stronger in the process to deal with challenges in the future? etc

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One episode of Circle is like watching 2 episodes. It gives you an addicting mind boggling theories and it is sooo good.

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Yes, the number of questions this show raises of the show itself and life in general is enormous and very thought provoking. I haven't thought in depth about them before, and thanks to this show, now I have.

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I am more curious about the events which led to the creation of smart earth. Obviously Handam University seems to the testing area for the project since we have care chip v.1 in those creepy bugs and nuero-science professors in deep research. I just love how we are watching the events along with Woo-Jin so we oscillate between deciding whether Jung-Yeon is really an alien or not, whether she is involved with the murders and Bum-Gyun. The show throws red herrings all around the place that the twists are soo much more shocking when it reveals them.
If forgetting bad and sad things make people happy, is it ethical? It's such a conundrum. people who suffer from severe trauma and PTSD would benefit from forgetting the trauma-inducing incidents. But forgetting people we loved and lost, I am not so sure. It's the journey that makes a person and having blanks and gaps in that would take away a personality trait that may define that person. I guess it's the choice to remember or forget that matters. But locking away memories without the knowledge of the person is almost like killing a part of them. This show rises so many questions and no easy answers!

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Is this kikwang’s debut?? Because wow I totally felt his pain when he remembered that he lost his girlfriend. And you could hear the desperation in his voice during the last scene. He seems like someone who needs order in their life in order to maintain stability. And putting him in Normal Earth took away everything he’s gotten used to but it brought back the one thing everyone is entitled to; their memories.

Idk why but I’m more interested in the 2037 timeline. In the 2017 time line the only one capturing my interest is Bum Gyun

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This isn't Kikwang's debut. He has been in a few other dramas such as Mrs. Cop.

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Also My Princess

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Pretty sure he was in Me, Too, Flower! What a crazy show that one was, lol!

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I am quite invested in the two timelines. I am curious to know how the two timelines are intertwined, and what leads to the creation of Smart Earth. What happened in 2017 that causes all these repercussions in 2037?

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I have been so wrapped up in the direct storyline that I completely forgot about the fact that 20 years later we now have a completely different earth. Wasn't there a shot in the first episode of like a large crater in the middle of the street? Why is the air quality/poverty level so bad in normal earth? And the technology also advanced rapidly in a relatively short time span. But, maybe the tech comes from the alien and that's why they are so advanced.

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KiKwang is doing a great job - the whole cast is! I am also slightly more interested in the 2037 timeline, well really what events led to the making things the way they are. I want Ho Soo to join the rebellion and be BFFs with Joon Hyuk.

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Ugh!! This show is my crack right now! I want more of both Beta Project and Brave New World, but I have to content myself with 30 minutes of content per night. I WANT MOOAAARRRRR. This show has some of the tightest writing I've seen this year.

I'm dying theorize, but I've already seen the next episode so I'll wait until the next recap to the do that.

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I know!! This show is Cracktastic!! But I love seeing how my theories and others evolve as we learn more each episode.

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I badly want the next episodes in my hands ASAP but then I don't want an end to the exciting ride that is Circle. This show just keeps getting more and more exciting as it goes and every episode has got me dropping my jaw.

Just when I thought Part 1 has dropped a crazy cliffhanger, Part 2 comes in and goes, "Uh no, we have more here."

I love Circle so much.

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Whoa...I'm totally blown away. The twists are so brain-jerking. Fellow beanies are so smart, someone did mention JoonHyuk being memory-erased and he doesn't know who he is which is exactly what happened.

I really respect the production team to put up this format where each episode being split into 2 equally tense and suspense on their own. This allows no room for BS! No filler scene whatsoever. Every single thing is on point. They have done a great job execute it.

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I love how this show slowly drops it heavy revelations per episode, especially the twin brothers mystery.

Ep 1: Joonhyuk is one of the twins
Ep 2: And he could be Woojin
Ep 3: Or he could be either

If they put huge hints on Ep 2 about Joonhyuk's possible identity as Woojin, they also put some on Ep 3 for Bumgyun. Like Joonhyuk being into baking, both brothers actually into solving the rubik's cube and finally Joonhyuk having actually no idea which brother he is.

Ep 3 is also an amazing episode that showcased Gikwang's acting. Especially that part when he turned off the power fuse and the confrontation scene with Joonhyuk where they both admitted having no memories. What a very gripping scene.

I also love how we also get as baffled as Woojin when it comes to uncovering Jungyeon's true identity. Like as we watch along, we don't go: "Hey the truth is already kicking you right in the face, you idiot!" Because we are just as confused as him. Amazing job to Gong Seungyeon for being able to portray both sides of the alien and Han Jungyeon perfectly well.

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This is my first time watching Gong Seung-yeon, but she's so great here! That blank expression on her face at the end of Part I. . .

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Right? As the alien, you just can't read what's going on inside her head, then you watch her in the 2017 timeline and she's just like your typical college girl. I never shut up about it, but the casting is in this show is a total A+.

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She is the one who acted in Introverted Boss right? I didn't think much of her acting then, but man, her skills in this show are mind numbingly good. I love how she portrayed as the emotionless expressionless alien where we can get no insight into her thoughts, and the expressive talkative college girl who wears her heart on her sleeve.

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Yup, she is! She also appeared in Six Flying Dragons as Yi Bangwon's wife :)

I love how we get to see a lot of actors in a new light because of this drama. It's the same case with An Wooyeon and Gikwang (I've never seen any of his performances before) too.

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I think Junhyeok is not Woojin since in the poster, Woojin's body is partly in the side where the characters of 'Brave New World' are standing. And the part of Woojin that touches the side of "Brave New World" is somewhat translucent that I interpret that older Woojin is living but not human? Maybe he is the creator of Smart Earth, perhaps?

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Yup that is how the poster is designed... Joonhyuk's body is also part of the 2017 part, although it doesn't show well in the main poster above. You can check it out here: http://www.koreandrama.org/wp-content/themes/3-col/timthumb.php?src=uploads/2017/04/Circle-03.jpg&w=150&zc=1

But OMG I love your idea that because Woojin's body is translucent in 2037 part, that he may not be living there as a human anymore.. O_O Especially, since Joonhyuk's body is absolutely clear in 2017 part, he is in 2017 as a human. Your theory just blew me away!

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"Maybe he is the creator of Smart Earth...?"

He's definitely a candidate :).

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this show was really good at hiding joonhyuk's identity! I was sure he was woojin, but then he could be bumgyum as well!
And I still don't know if I can trust jung yeon!
In conclusion, I'm hooked !

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It's more like we don't know if we can trust the show. It dropped hints, then took them back and dropped more hints in the totally opposite direction.

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yea like how he pinched dongsoo's eyelid n plays with the rubiks cube. Both twins played with the Rubik's cube when they were younger!

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My heart always beats like crazy after i finish an episode! Ahhhhhh

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I'm usually yelling WHOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAA, WHAT A SHOOOOOW at the end of each episode to my dogs and cats, or to my husband when he's home.

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Each episode just keeps getting better and better! I like how they gave Jung-yeon a story in her own right, rather than just make her a prop to give the twins a puzzle to solve or draw out angst *cough* like the other women in this show *cough*. I fell for the romantic tension, I admit. It was so cute seeing them sleuthing together. Han Jung-yeon seemed an awfully genuine, organic cover for an alien. Could it be possible that the alien actually constructed a (functional) human identity for herself that she could step into and out of? If memories can be suppressed, they can be transplanted in too, right? So while she's in the moment, the alien fully believes she's Han Jung-yeon, or something. I haven't completely thought this through, but it could also be someone else planting memories for her as well. All of this is just an effort to convince myself that Han Jung-yeon is in some ways real, of course. What motive could there be for the alien to cover her back to that extent, right?

I want to see more women. I'm still hoping that the shady chairman in Part Two whom no one has seen yet is a woman. I would like to see more of the unexpectedly badass secretary, or even the doctor with *yawn* who Joon-hyuk shares a past. Please, Show, please. You've been so good so far! Now I want you to be even better. Fighting, Show!

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have you watched ep 4?

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Yep! Theory officially thrown to the gutter hahah, but I liked it while it lasted ?

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The romantic tension between WJ and JY is so good, but she seems to be romantically involved with the father, or not?

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The twins' father? I never thought of it that way while watching. I just assumed that the dad wanted to help her or something and things went bad that he never got to return back to his kids.

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I thought so at first. The way that Bum-gyun remembered it it seemed as if he left the kids to run away with a woman. But after seeing more of the alien when they were kids, I agree more with @weaselking that he took her away to hide her or maybe protect the kids from her or some kind of danger.

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Or he was somehow coerced by her to leave.

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Just when I thought my speculations were right, the show keeps telling me, "It's not what you think." Ugh! I want answers to my questions! Your so amazing, show! I also have a speculation: When Jeong Yeon said to their senior about not telling dad she had been to the police station, could it be Dad?? Because now I am sure she is the alien!

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I had that doubt about Dad too! I'm fixated on thinking Jung-yeon is the alien, so I thought maybe twins' Dad is now acting as Jung-yeon's Dad for unknown reasons - maybe she can contro human minds? Amnesia?

But ep4 once more ruined our theories.

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That episode was great! The bug was really creepy and because it left the body from the nostril I wondered how it was put inside the girl. Because the thought of some bug entering a human body through the nostril kinda creeps me out.

And Jung Yeon really is an interesting character. I can't figure her out but I can't think of her as wholly bad.

I felt bad for Ho Soo for like 2 minutes because he world crashed down but then I got so mad at him. I know it doesn't make sense because I understand his reaction. I guess ignorance is bliss but I really hope (and I think that's what's going to happen) that he will soon join Joon Hyuk.

I felt really bad about Joon Hyuk who doesn't know his true identity. I could really feel his despair.

This drama just keeps getting better and better. I wasn't entirely convinced after watching the first episode (I'm not a sci-fi fan and I'm even less of an alien fan). I'm so glad I kept watching.

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Oh I love your wild speculation @tineybeanie, and thank you for the recap

Haven't watched ep 4 yet.. But I already full of spoilers (thanks to my curiosity). But this ep 3 made me blown away
- when the bug came out.. ??
- WJ and JY's moment.. I legit fall for the romantic tension, but suddenly the show gave me the bomb! JY had the blue bug in the room! The cliffhanger!
- and I love the philosophy about memories.. For me, there was a time that I also want to forget the specific memories. Because I think it will make me happy and feel at ease. But what makes that scary because human B didn't have a consent about what they are doing (didn't they right?) from smart city's citizens's memory. The citizens only now the function of the chip is calming care system.. It such a crime tbh..

Ah and in the part 1, when those professors talked after the girl jumped.. Why I get the feeling that they are talking about sample/experiment object.. Such they are weak, too extreme, and bla bla.. And in this case, the object are humans a.k.a their students

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Same here! I felt like that assistant professor was trying to imply how weak the kids are towards the microchip experiment hence the head professor got mad that the AP even hinted at it.

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I thought the same thing!!!

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I keep thinking of the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, thanks to the question this show is asking: Is it okay to alter your memory to be happy, or did you lose something precious through that process? Is it cowardly or helpful? Does that make you another person entirely if you loose part of your memory. Does life loose its worth if you can't remember the bad stuff and does happiness become meaningless? Is it alright not confront reality or alter it, so that you can be happily oblivious? Do you take the red or the blue pill, to stay in the Matrix? :)
Not only is this show so very clever and mysterious, it also provides the viewer with philosophical questions that makes the whole experience way more intriguing. I enjoy the team work in both timeliness. They parallel each other so nicely. Both partners complement each other and that could make a wonderful team out of them, but they also can't trust each other. Everyone of them is hiding something.
They are so many questions and mysteries in this story, like: Were the murdered students aware that they were experimented on, with this creepy blue caterpillar? Who is Bluebird in the present and in the future? Who is the chairman? Is she an alien? And many more questions.

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As to the first part of your post, I am glad we have HS and JH on opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to the question of memories. It gives us two vastly different schools of thought, and a lot of food for thought since both sides are right in their own way. I like how the show poses such questions to us and makes us realize the answers are never easy.

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I like your questions, Nelly. I actually had to stop and think about some of these things after this episode ended. We all have things in our past that we would rather forget - mistakes we've made, regret over things done or left undone, sad memories, painful events, losses - all those things that make our hearts heavy and sad (or mad). Some days, when one of those memories pops up out of the blue, I wish that I could forget it (especially the embarrassing ones). But who I am today, and where I am in life, is a composite of ALL of my experiences, good and bad. Every decision I make, the reactions I have to people and current events, and even the emotions I feel, are directly tied to those things in the past. I learn from the past, (mostly from my mistakes than from my successes) and my memories keep those lessons fresh in my mind. So I guess I'd rather remember and be uncomfortable but wise, the comfortable and ignorant.

But what about the losses - especially of loved ones? Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? For the most part, I would say yes. I'm grateful for the mnpany good memories I have of my mom and those keep me going anytime the sad memories of her cancer and death rise up. I much prefer remembering it all than not remembering any of it. But what about the loss of a child before it s/he is even born, so there are no real memories of that person to replace the sad memories with. That one is a little more difficult.

But the real problem area in this train of thought is when it comes to traumatic memories, such as a crime committed against a person that leaves deep scars and fears. To me, this would be better left forgotten, buried deep enough that only peace remains.

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I know that I don't trust myself when remembering things for the past 10 years or so (horsey accident that messed with my memory), so I feel like if memories are not to be trusted, you can't trust who you were. Or rather, I can't trust how I remember myself, as my brain has rerecorded the memories in a distorted manner. I fell for these characters and I can see both points that HS & JH make on memories and how they make you who you are.

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I'm pretty sure the students weren't aware that they were the subjects of the research. I'm also sure that the research is both unethical and illegal. Usually research that requires direct experiments on human body must provide proof to an ethics board that the experiments and the tools used in those experiments themselves do not cause harm to the research subjects either physically or mentally. Experiment of this kind is supposed to be done on animals in labs not on human. I'm pretty sure the research team deceived both the ethics board and the research subjects as to the real purpose and methodology of their research.

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I know right. I want to know everything right now too. When you think you have managed to guess something, the show throws your assumptions off, and you have to re-calibrate your thoughts again. I thought JH might be WJ, but now I am having second thoughts. He mmight be BG.

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I realized just now that Dong-soo the hacker is actually the student Woo-jin was teaching in 2017.

Heh, I know. I was too focused on thinking that the student might possibly be Bluebird or something.

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waiting for episode 4 recap :D

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I am as well. I can't write anything now because of spoilers.

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Circle is such a great show and I'm honestly so sad it's not doing well domestically :<

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I'm like you tineybeanie, I'm already dreading the ending because then no more Circle. It's so good I actually got a subscription to Dramafever for it, which I swore I'd never do.

I'm glad that at least by 2037 they decided to implant chips instead of having a bug crawling around your brain, ick. I have to agree a little with Hosoo, I think some memories serve no purpose but to traumatize you and are fine to forget, but it's hard to figure out which traumas just bring you down and which traumas make you stronger.

I'm terrible at trying to figure out what the heck is going on but the rest of you beanies are geeeniuses, I love reading your theories! Keep 'em coming!

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I've been wondering why Chief Hong is so interested in Bum-gyun. Is he too aware of the real reasons behind the suicides? It wouldn't make sense chief Hong to be interested in Bum-gyun simply because he's 'the crazy boy' who believes that aliens are real.

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Dear Circle,

I love you. You have filed the gapping drama love hole Signal left me with and no other drama came close to sealing. But if you don't end this sausagefest and give your female characters names, more than 2 words got speak, and for the love of god develop them and have them have something to do....I WILL RAGE! In the bigger plot of the big bad and Smart Earh, Normal World, and the investigation, and aliens...can we get some women in here helping out, plotting, run after bad guys themselves!?! Other than a.i alien/Jong-yeon there are no female characters of importance in this drama (while we got more than 8 male characters of presence, names, and significance to the story). That is a crying shame. Fix it drama.

I love this show. I adore both twins. I am intrigued by both parts (though I'm in the minority who finds Part 2: Brave New World a bit more interesting because of the potential for some awesome social commentary and bb Kim Kang Woo and his perfection), I like nearly all the characters, and the aliens, and mystery, but GIVE WOMEN NAMES AND THINGS TO DO!! GIVE FEMALE CHARACTER NAMES AND THINGS TO DO!! Please let that doctors join the team Joon Hyuk, give her a name, and let her have relevance. She can hack into more heads and retrieve more memories or be deep undercover been working at a hospital connected to Human B and has been implanting or taking out chips and collecting data against Smart Earth and Human B and the chairman (hell, ya'll can make that how who is who he is was discovered and his chip taken out and memories given back -sort of-). Again, GIVE FEMALE CHARACTERS NAMES AND RELEVANCE IN THIS DRAMA!

Love,

A fangirl who is tried of this in ski-fi (take a page from the original Alien and build your own Ellen Ripley).

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I love this show so much and will watch till the end (unless they pull done dumb stuff) but the way they treat female characters aka barely pass with only just one. Is so glaring and again, a crying shame. Did we women go extinct in the future or were forced back into the kitchen? Give me one more female character and give her more to do than watch silently, doctor, and not say one word.

If they could fix this lack of women. I too would have Circle playing at my grave so the masses could arch it enfold and fall for its brilliance.

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You know, I didn't even notice the lack of women until you mentioned it... good point!

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More than anything, I love the reveal of the bug bot! I s2g, when I saw the bug crawling out, I was like, "OHMYGOSH'. A completely unexpected but really cool twist, keeping in line with the sci-fi theme of the show.

I'm also a sucker for the way the Jung Yeon and Woo Jin's relationship is developing. Obviously, suspicions are there, but how cute were they, being detecting buddies? And I love that the show keeps us guessing! When Beta Project ended, I was like, I need to know more!!

In Brave New World, what I loved the most was Ho Soo's arc. It was heartbreaking to see his repressed memory come to the forefront and even most distressing to watch him try to make sense of everything and fail.

So far, so good. I'm loving the show and digging that its split into two timelines!

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This show is Breaking my BRAIN!!!
Great acting and story telling. I hope they can continue this until the last episode. I am both sad and delighted that it's only 12eps because I think it would be hard to drag mysteries too long lest they become absurd (Yes, W i'm talking about you!)
I can't wait for everything to unravel.
People's brains will explode after watching ep4. I promise you! Can't wait for the recaps! Thanks dramabeans!!!

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AAAAAAAAAAHHH, episode 3 has me excited and clamoring for the next one ASAP! The reveal of Ho-soo's past life on Normal Earth was heartbreaking. Add to that our hero's equally sad reveal of his lost memories and how different they are in how they deal with the new information, and I'm sold even more on the Brave New World story line. Wouldn't it be crazy-good if our black-and-white Normal Earth and Smart Earth duo were the twins? I'll bet someone has already guessed as much in the previous recaps, but I must have missed it.

The Beta Project story line is ramping up as well, and going in a direction I did not see coming at all. Of course, I'm developing an unhealthy obsession with this series, and for each time line, I want more, more, MORE. Aww man, is it really only going to be 10 episodes long?

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I believe it's 12 episodes long. One more month!

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My theory is that the chairman is actually the professor (since woojin presented the idea to him he actually used it and his experiment became successful) Also jeong yeon is his adopted daughter (like she said to sunbae not to tell her father) she is bluebird (hacking and stuff, since she is computer scientist, telling from my personal experience trust me we don't learn hacking in this field it's a misconception haha) the professor and bluebird are both in this together

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Oops, just realized there are some spoilers here for episode 4. If people haven't watched that yet, I urge you to skip my comment.

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Lol. Too late. I've been spoiled.

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oh my goth, l cant even with this show. Its sooo the right thing, balancing mystery with all otheraspects of the show. I love it. But is woojin really the leaderof it all, my heart would break. But then how would he have gotten hold of his brother's phone once he was kidnapped. Questions Questions.

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I can't wait to see what you think of Episode 4, but have you stopped recapping this? D:

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I know you guys are working hard writing these recaps! <3 Could you please give more priority to Circle and release the recaps earlier! The wait is excruciating! :( Love u! <3

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I'm still going with time travel rather than aliens although your theory does make some sense. I think Joon-hyuk is Woo Jin. Although we're supposed to think the Chairman is one of the twins, I think it might be their father. I think he "disappeared" with the "alien" because he was taking her for experimentation.

On a shallow note for a very intellectual show, I'm shipping Woo Jin and Jung Yeon in a very serious way although I can't imagine a show like this will stop for a romance plot.

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Okay. I'm late to the party but I still want to keep my thoughts together while I watch. I agree about the Professors having something to do with the bugs/microchip research. Maybe those students who committed suicide are the first beta projects for it. I think they're all research assistants who agreed to get tested and have chips embedded in them. It would then make sense for Woo-jin to have one in him as well if he gets accepted for the research assistant position.

Yep. I also think Jungyeon is the alien but she learned to adjust to the human world now. But then why does she have a family? She gets calls from "Dad". Unless she's just faking it or that's actually the twins' dad. Argh. I'm going crazy here.

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