Mystery Queen: Episode 13
Special Unit Seven is fully—if unofficially—functional, with all kinds of buddy dynamics warming my heart, and a secret headquarters to boot. But their newest case threatens to upset the delicate balance of Seol-ok’s home life, and disaster seems to be approaching our Scooby Squad from multiple directions. How long will they be able to enjoy their newfound camaraderie?
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Inspector Woo fires a warning shot, then points his gun at serial killer Park Yong-soo. “Let’s end this,” he says. Seol-ok tries to get out of Joon-oh’s cruiser, but he stops her. Inspector Woo hesitates, his gun hand shaking, as he remembers the moment he discovered Jin-young’s dead body. Seeing that Inspector Woo is unable to pull the trigger, the serial killer drives his cruiser straight toward him. Wan-seung runs up, grabs the gun, and pushes Inspector Woo out of the way, yelling, “Are you trying to actually kill him?”
Wan-seung shoots the serial killer in his hand, stopping his advance. Park Yong-soo reverses quickly, and Wan-seung shoots the cruiser’s tires to slow it down. As it turns, Wan-seung leaps over its roof to the driver’s side door and hacks at the window with his gun until it shatters, then he pulls Park Yong-soo out, wrestling him to the ground. Backup arrives, and Seol-ok and Joon-oh run to check on Yoon-jeong, who is unconscious.
Park Yong-soo laughs like a madman as he’s dragged away. Kwang-tae joins Inspector Woo and says that it’s all over now, including Jin-young’s case. The serial killer growls at them as he’s taken away. Seol-ok and Joon-oh go with Yoon-jeong in an ambulance, and soon only Kwang-tae, Inspector Woo, and Wan-seung are left. Kwang-tae tells Inspector Woo, “See, I told you we should do it together.”
The younger man asks if it’s really all over now, but Wan-seung says their work is never truly done—they have countless more criminals to catch. Kwang-tae puts an arm around Inspector Woo’s shoulder and tells him that they’ll live tenaciously, eating three meals a day. As they walk off, Wan-seung acknowledges Inspector Woo’s skills and takes back calling him a fake profiler, but the man says nothing in reply. “He’s still a jerk,” Wan-seung mutters to himself.
The next day, Inspector Woo finally goes to Jin-young’s grave to say goodbye, apologizing for holding onto him for so long. That night, Kwang-tae, Wan-seung, and Joon-oh meet for drinks, congratulating themselves on their success. “Special Unit Seven, fighting!” they crow with wide grins.
As they’re leaving, Joon-oh offers to drive Kwang-tae home, and Kwang-tae pats his cheeks, calling him a good boy. Wan-seung calls Joon-oh a suck-up, but the two men ignore him and walk off arm in arm, leaving Wan-seung to follow.
A bit later, after they’ve dropped Kwang-tae off, Joon-oh grumbles that Wan-seung always goes home with him—doesn’t he have a place of his own?
But Wan-seung just pinches Joon-oh’s cheek and reclines his seat for a nap.
Seol-ok spends the next morning cheerfully catching up on all the housework she’s been ignoring. Wan-seung, on the other hand, wakes to find himself in a fancy apartment, with Ji-won making breakfast nearby. She explains that she called him last night, but that Joon-oh answered his phone and brought Wan-seung here at her direction. Ji-won asks why he doesn’t sleep in his own home, but he says that it’s none of her business.
Wan-seung calls Joon-oh, who has just gotten up himself, and asks how he could hand him over to “another woman.” Ha. Joon-oh says he merely took him home; he can’t sleep when Wan-seung is over because he snores like a dog. Wan-seung promises him, “I’m gonna crush you.”
Ji-won says that cooking for Wan-seung is fun and offers to do it sometimes, but he says that he’s not interested in women who cook well. (Omo. Is that a confession?) Ji-won says that CEO Ha wants him to come home, but Wan-seung says he’ll only do it if he’s reinstated to his team before telling her to return the key to his apartment.
We see a listening device flashing on the bottom of Ji-won’s purse as she tells Wan-seung that Hyun-soo is dead, and he should forget her now. Wan-seung must think that Jang Do-jang killed her, too, she points out; there’s been no trace of activity from her in the last seventeen years. Ji-won says that she’ll prove that Hyun-soo is dead, but Wan-seung replies, “Hyun-soo is alive,” and leaves.
Ji-won calls someone and asks them to find out everything about Jang Do-jang. The man who’s listening in sends this recording to Lawyer Jung, who orders his own minion to dig into the man. Do any of these lawyers do their own investigating?
Elsewhere, a woman collapses outside a house, clutching her chest and moaning. Kyung-suk and her friend find her and call an ambulance.
Wan-seung arrives at the side dish shop, where Kyung-mi is tsk-ing over another of Seol-ok’s failed creations. When Kyung-mi asks why he came, he says that his team’s office is here, and he heads to the back room with a grin. Soon Joon-oh arrives, looks at what Seol-ok is cooking, and says, “Fighting!”
Kwang-tae follows a few minutes later, and immediately takes off his jacket to take over stirring Kyung-mi’s pan, telling her not to strain her delicate wrists. Kyung-mi gives a token protest but allows him to do it, agreeing that she’s not as strong as she used to be. Seol-ok watches with a smile as they flirt, and quietly leaves them to it.
Wan-seung and Joon-oh are about to leave when Seol-ok asks where they’re going, and Wan-seung asks if she ever actually works—isn’t she a part-timer at the shop? Then again, he says with a smirk, maybe it’s helping for her not to do anything. Joon-oh tells her that someone collapsed at the senior center, and although Wan-seung pretends to be angry about the revelation, he casually mentions that someone added pesticides into the woman’s drink.
When Seol-ok finds out it’s the senior center that Kyung-suk goes to, she tells them that she’s busy because it’s her wedding anniversary. Wan-seung plays it off like he wasn’t waiting for her to follow them and teases that she must be wearing polka dots today for Ho-chul.
Wan-seung and Joon-oh arrive at the scene, and Joon-oh says that he wants to get older quickly so he can become experienced and wise. Wan-seung tells him that he’ll help him age, and Joon-oh retorts that he’s been helping plenty already. Joon-oh greets CSI Na, and she smiles bashfully at him. Aw, does someone have a crush?
Wan-seung and Joon-oh question Kyung-suk and her three friends, who tell them that victim Mrs. GO MAL-SOOK is the manager of the center. Kyung-suk says that Wan-seung looks familiar, and one of the ladies reminds her that they saw him on TV, copying his “I’ll arrest you!” pose. Joon-oh snickers into his notepad.
CSI Na finds a bottle of pesticide and a pair of gloves near the wall outside the center. In the fridge, they find a row of glass bottles labeled with the ladies’ names. CSI Na tells Wan-seung and Joon-oh that the ladies have fought because of the drinks before; it’s the third time she’s had to come here. A flashback shows Mrs. Go getting angry that someone drank her red ginseng tea.
Kyung-suk and Mrs. Lee saw Mrs. Go collapse but didn’t see what she drank, while Mrs. Kim says she saw Mrs. Go drink the red ginseng. She gives Mrs. Song a significant look, which causes her to suddenly agree that she saw it too.
Back at the station, Wan-seung and Joon-oh try to figure out who had a motive, but all four of the ladies have recently fought with Mrs. Go. Joon-oh is doubtful that any of them would mix pesticide into her drink and wonders if it was outsider who wanted to bring Mrs. Go down. Wan-seung points out that the only outsider who knows about the arguments and the separate bottles is CSI Na, which startles Joon-oh.
Wan-seung remarks that this is a perfect case for Seol-ok and agrees with feigned reluctance when Joon-oh suggests that they call her. (Sure, dude. You obviously miss her.) When she refuses, claiming the shop is busy, Wan-seung tells Joon-oh never to share case details with her again. When Joon-oh asks why he’s getting so angry, Wan-seung shouts that he’s not and stalks off, muttering that Joon-oh called Seol-ok just to embarrass him. Hahaha.
Ho-chul calls Seol-ok and tells her that he won’t be able to come home tonight, and instead asks her to bring him a change of clothes. He doesn’t get the hint when she asks if he’s forgotten something. Once she hangs up, Seol-ok looks sadly at the lavish candlelit dinner she’d set out for them and sighs.
Ho-chul belatedly remembers that it’s their anniversary today, but he’s at a clothing store with a pretty young woman, who asks his opinion of the dress she has on (it costs 1.5 million won, or about 1,300 US dollars). It’s “practical,” she says, in contrast to the other one she tried, which would really be hard on his prosecutor’s salary. Ho-chul gives her a strained smile and says he likes it. When she goes to change, the salesclerk tells him that the dress comes with a free matching umbrella.
Ho-soon comes home and instantly begins scarfing down Seol-ok’s anniversary dinner. Seol-ok watches her eat dejectedly, until Ho-chul texts her with an apology and a promise that her anniversary present will arrive tomorrow, which cheers her up immediately. Oh, you dog.
Lawyer Jung calls the mysterious Mr. Kim, who recognizes him instantly, and the two agree to a mutually beneficial connection. A bit later, he meets CEO Ha privately, promising that if the old man entrusts Ha & Jung to him for a while, he’ll make sure that Wan-seung stops chasing what he shouldn’t and getting himself in danger. Ji-won watches this from afar.
After an hour-long “tea break” with CEO Ha, Lawyer Jung comes into Ji-won’s office in a good mood. She tells him not to feel too comfortable, as he knows that CEO Ha changes his mind according to whatever benefits him, but Lawyer Jung is unmoved. As he leaves, Ji-won receives a call from Jang Do-jang.
A package arrives for Seol-ok from Ho-chul, and as expected, it’s the umbrella, with a note that says he loves her. Ugh. Kyung-suk sulks to find out that it wasn’t for her as she’d expected, but Seol-ok admires it, overjoyed, and takes it with her when she goes to deliver Ho-chul’s clothes. He’s away from his office, so she gives the bag to a security guard. As she leaves, Seol-ok passes Ho-chul eating lunch with his girlfriend in a cafe, but she doesn’t see them.
Her next stop is to go to Kyung-mi’s to show off her new umbrella, and while her friend admires it, she wonders if it’s the sign of a guilty conscience. Seol-ok tells Kyung-mi not to be so twisted, adding that Ho-chul isn’t like other men—he’s loyal to his wife no matter how many other women might pursue him. Oh, honey.
At home, Ho-soon sees a newspaper article about Seol-ok helping to find the serial killer and unsuccessfully tries to hide it from her mother. Furious, Kyung-suk ignores Ho-soon’s attempts to calm her down and stomps out of the house on her way to confront Seol-ok. At the front gate, they run into Seol-ok, and Kyung-suk shows her the newspaper. Seol-ok promises that she’s stopped, but Kyung-suk tells Seol-ok to pack her things and get out of the house.
Wan-seung and Joon-oh, meanwhile, have found a match for the prints on the pesticide bottle, along with witness testimony that the suspect bought it before the incident. When they arrive at the suspect’s address, Wan-seung is surprised to see that they’re outside Seol-ok’s house.
Spotting them, Seol-ok tells Ho-soon to take Kyung-suk inside and whispers to the two men to leave. Wan-seung simply asks her if she’s going to choose to know him or not, and she watches in shock as he informs Kyung-suk that she’s a suspect for attempted murder.
Locked in a holding cell at the police station, Kyung-suk insists to Ho-soon that although she did buy the pesticide to kill mites, she’s innocent of the attack on Mrs. Go. Kyung-suk refuses Seol-ok’s help, but she also tells Ho-soon to keep it a secret from Ho-chul, saying it’ll ruin his career if word gets out.
Ho-soon tells Seol-ok that she’ll work on convincing Kyung-suk to talk to her. Seol-ok replies that they have to figure out who the real culprit is, especially since the police have evidence implicating Kyung-suk. “Come on,” she tells Ho-soon. “Let’s put that expensive education of yours to good use.”
Seol-ok and Ho-soon interview the three ladies, starting with Mrs. Kim, who claims that Mrs. Go did it to herself in a bid for attention, which Ho-soon says is a lie. Mrs. Song says that she’s innocent, but that Mrs. Lee did often drink Mrs. Go’s red ginseng, causing arguments—not that she thinks it was Mrs. Lee, of course. Truth, says Ho-soon.
Mrs. Lee thinks that it was Mrs. Song acting on Mrs. Kim’s orders, because the former has been acting servile toward the latter ever since Mrs. Kim paid her overdue fees. Ho-soon says that she’s telling the truth. When Seol-ok asks Mrs. Lee if she was planning to drink some of the red ginseng that day, she refuses while nodding, which Ho-soon interprets to mean that she’s lying.
When they question Kyung-suk, she says that she thinks it was Mrs. Kim, since she and Mrs. Go were both planning to run for president, and Ho-soon says this is true. Kyung-suk lies when Ho-soon asks her why she fought with Mrs. Go, saying that they merely had a difference of opinion during their seminar, but Seol-ok says she’s just embarrassed to admit that she was playing cards in front of her daughter-in-law.
At the side dish store, Kwang-tae watches Kyung-mi arrange lunch boxes in admiration. “How pretty,” he says, looking at her face, and when she looks at him in surprise, he says he was talking about the food. They both laugh, loudly and awkwardly. Oh you two.
Seol-ok joins Wan-seung and Joon-oh at a table, asking what they’ve figured out. Joon-oh shares that each bottle had its owner’s fingerprints on it, except the red ginseng, which also had Mrs. Lee’s—which still looks bad for Kyung-suk. Seol-ok makes what Joon-oh calls her “figuring it out” expression, though Wan-seung says that she just looks dazed. After some thought, she tells them that she has an idea of who did it, but she’s not 100% certain.
Ho-soon arrives, and Seol-ok tells her to take some food to Kyung-suk, and also to ask her every detail about the gloves she used when she was spraying the pesticide. Wan-seung silently motions for Joon-oh to write all this down. A bit later, Ho-soon calls Seol-ok to tell her that Kyung-suk left her cotton gloves on the flowerbed. Seol-ok asks where the police found the gloves, and Joon-oh tells her that they were inside out, lying on the flowerbed.
Seol-ok looks into to the distance. Wan-seung tells Joon-oh that she’s in a daze again, and to be ready to write down her conclusions. Seol-ok turns to them and announces with a smile, “I know who put the pesticide in the drink.”
I’m torn between two emotions at the end of this hour, so let’s get the less-pleasant one out of the way first: frustration. How is it that we’re still so lacking in plot development with only three episodes left? We did get some revelations (more the promise of future revelations, if you ask me) but it seems like the further along this drama gets, the slower its plot moves. We still have no answers to any of the questions I had at the end of my last recap about Ho-chul and Ha & Jung’s shady dealings, Jang Do-jang and how he connects to any of this, or the truth behind Seol-ok’s parents’ murders.
We did find out that Jang Do-jang is probably behind whatever happened to Hyun-soo, but most of us had guessed that already. Instead of any of these very important answers, we got a random mystery involving Kyung-suk and her frenemies, and while they’re great as comic relief characters, I really don’t care about them in any other capacity. I’m glad that at least Ho-soon and Kyung-suk found out what Seol-ok has been doing with the police, but we couldn’t properly explore the fallout from that in their family dynamic, because everyone was too busy dealing with this attempted murder case. (Speaking of which, Baebang-dong is unbelievably dangerous. Is it realistic to have so many murders in such a nice neighborhood, in this short a span of time?)
On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of this episode for its many squee-worthy character interactions. My favorite thing (although only by a hair, because man is it hard to choose) was Wan-seung pretending to be irritated by the idea of Seol-ok helping with the case, while secretly wanting her to join them—he was hanging on her every word while acting as though he couldn’t care less as to what conclusion she came to. I’m convinced that him telling Ji-won that he’s not interested in women who can cook is a confession of his feelings for Seol-ok, since we witnessed him later mocking her terrible cooking skills at the shop. The only thing cuter is the way he uses Joon-oh to ask Seol-ok the things he’s too embarrassed to ask her himself. The three of them together are pure comedic gold.
Then we have Kwang-tae and Kyung-mi, who are clearly in the throes of an unspoken flirtation that grows more dorktastically adorable by the day. Kyung-mi was already a favorite as the no-nonsense yet loyal-to-the-death best friend, but seeing how this practical middle-aged woman turns as giddy as a schoolgirl when Kwang-tae does nice things for her is just precious. I don’t know if we were ever told whether Kwang-tae is single, but I really want him to be, because him looking at Kyung-mi and going “Pretty!” might be a tired trope, but it’s never made me swoon so much.
I also really liked that Ho-soon was instantly supportive of Seol-ok in the face of Kyung-suk’s anger, and it was sweet to see them teaming up to catch the real culprit and free Kyung-suk. Ho-soon’s a bit spoiled and very lacking in common sense, but it’s heartwarming to see that she does care about Seol-ok, because Kyung-suk and Ho-chul certainly don’t. I was so angry at the way Kyung-suk grabbed what was clearly Seol-ok’s package out of her hands, and then had the nerve to be upset that her son had sent his wife a present on their anniversary. Maybe it’s a small thing, but it’s just one more indication that Seol-ok isn’t treated with the respect and love due to a true family member.
As for Ho-chul—well, we knew he was a jerk, but now he’s been confirmed as a grade A cheating bastard. It’s not really a surprise considering the early revelation that he goes around telling his coworkers that he’s single, but it was incredibly low for him to give Seol-ok that free umbrella for an anniversary present. I so wanted her to turn around after she dropped Ho-chul’s things off and see him with the other woman! The way he treats her is especially heartbreaking because of how much faith Seol-ok has in his loyalty, and how genuinely happy she was to receive the umbrella, when any other wife would still be angry that he didn’t come home on their anniversary, gift or no gift. Seol-ok is always so grateful for the smallest crumbs of affection from her family, and it’s clearly the result of being a charity case living on the kindness(?) of strangers after her parents’ death. This hasn’t materially changed since her marriage, even though she legally has every right to expect the status of a family member. I hope that once she clears Kyung-suk’s name, she’ll wake up to what kind of man Ho-chul really is, pack her bags, and set off on her own adventures with Special Unit Seven.
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