Criminals Minds: Episode 5
Are there such things as well-intentioned lies, even if they strip people of their agency? That’s the question Hyun-joon and the team struggle with as a new epidemic threatens to sweep the country. Our heroes race against the clock as they try to connect the dots and outsmart their opponents before calamity strikes and lives are lost.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
An officer interrogates the members of the NCI team about Ki-hyung, since the recent jailbreak by Kim Yong-chul—the Reaper—has got the higher-ups concerned about his ability to lead the team. Everyone refuses to testify against Ki-hyung, and either give stock answers or ask questions back.
Sun-woo is the last to be interrogated, and an officer tells Chief Director Baek that Hyun-joon skipped his interviews again. He warns the chief director that they’ll have to act accordingly if Hyun-joon doesn’t cooperate.
One month has passed since Yong-chul’s escape, and Hyun-joon chases after a masked man through the streets. Nana had explained that Yong-chul took pills for hyperthyroidism, and after searching through all the pharmacies in the country, she found footage of a hooded man resembling Yong-chul.
Hyun-joon corners the masked man on a rooftop, and easily flips him to the ground. He grabs the masked man’s arm, revealing injection marks, and remembers Nana telling him that the man caught on camera also bought narcotic painkillers. Hyun-joon rips off the mask, and it isn’t Yong-chul.
The next day, Ki-hyung stares out the window in his office until a headache overcomes him, and Hyun-joon looks on with worry.
The results of Ki-hyung’s recent psychological tests have come in, and Chief Director Baek shares with Sun-woo that Ki-hyung is suffering from PTSD. He isn’t surprised by the results, but the higher-ups are concerned. Sun-woo asks why he’s sharing this information with her, and he tells her point-blank that she’s in charge of reporting back to him about Ki-hyung.
She asks the chief director what he means, and he informs her that the higher-ups are considering Ki-hyung’s dismissal. Sun-woo suddenly confesses that she would have killed Yong-chul that day, unlike Ki-hyung, who suppressed it.
It’s now Chief Director Baek’s turn to ask what she means, and Sun-woo firmly states, “For Han-byul’s sake, our team leader won’t crumble.” He advises her to think objectively since she might have to lead the team.
Unbeknownst to either of them, Ki-hyung overhears their conversation from outside, unable to enter.
A masked man stands on top of a hill, first testing the wind and then emptying a vial filled with white powder. The wind carries the white powder down toward the people in the park, and it enters the lungs of the unsuspecting civilians.
Ten hours later, they start to get rashes, and one by one, they choke up blood and faint. The emergency room is utter chaos as more and more patients get rushed in.
Min-young makes kimbap at home with her niece, Ha-eun, but an urgent call forces her to break her promise with Ha-eun. Though Ha-eun cries for her to stay, duty calls, and Min-young leaves.
A worker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCK) tells Min-young about the 72 victims and how all of them were at the park this afternoon. Min-young informs the rest of the team that the victims are suffering from anthrax (a bacterial infection), indicating the use of a biological weapon.
Han notes an anomaly, pointing out that people are dying too quickly, but Ki-hyung says that a variant must have been used. They all agree that the external symptoms are progressing at an alarming rate, but even more troubling is the fact that the bacteria infiltrates the lungs, which can’t be treated.
Min-young informs everyone that a 24-hour press ban has been placed, which means no one—including the victims and their families—are to be told about the bacteria. Hyun-joon protests, believing the victims have a right to know the truth, but Ki-hyung tells him to consider the mass panic that would ensue. He tells Hyun-joon that the fastest way to save the victims is to solve the case, and ends the discussion.
The news reports the incident as acute lung disease, and the masked man from the park calls someone who’s making more of the bacteria. The masked man tells the other person that it wasn’t enough and asks if they are ready, and the man replies in the affirmative.
Ki-hyung asks Chief Director Baek for permission to move the headquarters to their office, but the chief director thinks this case may be complicated. Ki-hyung informs him that the attack wasn’t committed by another country, and hands over a file.
Chief Director Baek notes that the people listed in the file will have to take responsibility if Ki-hyung messes up, and hands it back, giving his approval. Ki-hyung experiences another headache, and when the chief director asks if he’s okay, he tells him that there’s no reason to worry.
Sun-woo and Hyun-joon visit one of the quarantined victims, and Sun-woo guides the sick student through a memory processing exercise. She helps the student recall her bike ride at the park, and the student begins to describe the warm weather and the happy faces of families sitting on the lawn.
With Sun-woo’s prompting, the student remembers a man dressed in black standing on a hill. Through gasps, she says his face wasn’t visible, and despite the student’s worsening condition, Sun-woo presses on. Hyun-joon places his hand on Sun-woo’s shoulder, warning her to stop.
In the hallway, Hyun-joon voices his disapproval, questioning their decision to keep the victim’s family in the dark, but Sun-woo agrees with Ki-hyung: Finding the criminal is the only way to save them.
The NCI team presents their profiling to a group of military higher-ups, and Ki-hyung tells everyone that the criminal is likely to have chosen the park for personal reasons, and that it’s possible he forewarned people about this type of attack.
Ki-hyung explains how people would probably describe the culprit as unstable, paranoid, and secretive, and in order to create the bacteria, he probably worked overtime and owns a personal lab. Furthermore, Han surmises that the culprit may have published his findings, but grew angry when his warnings went ignored. Ki-hyung tells the military higher-ups that he believes the culprit to be in their midst.
The park is closed to the public and the media roped off while authorities investigate. Min-young handles the reporters while Sun-woo and Hyun-joon look around the park. Sun-woo walks down the path, visualizing people on the day of the attack based on the infected student’s account.
Reaching the end, she looks up a hill where the man in black had been spotted, where Hyun-joon now stands. Like Sun-woo, he has deduced that the culprit must have committed the act up here, and wonders if he found pleasure in watching his victims suffer.
Sun-woo points out that the culprit would have chosen a more immediate method if he wanted to watch their demise, so Hyun-joon says that the criminal must be enjoying the process. He turns around to scan the area, and in the back of the crowd, spots a man wearing a mask.
He notes the mask as odd since no one should know about the airborne pathogens, and based on his attire, they assume he must know something. They nonchalantly walk toward the masked man, but he sees through their act and bolts.
Hyun-joon chases after him into a busy street, sliding over a car and jumping barriers. He follows the masked man into a tight alley, and the masked man uses the walls to kick Hyun-joon, who grapples with the masked man and manages to unloop one side of the mask.
Before Hyun-joon can see his face, the culprit grabs his leg, making him tumble. He pummels Hyun-joon, who desperately tries to catch a glimpse of his face, then flees. The police arrive just as Hyun-joon loses him in the streets, and he calls Nana, asking her to scour the surrounding surveillance cameras.
When Hyun-joon returns to the office, Nana regretfully informs him that she couldn’t find a clear picture of the man’s face. Hyun-joon decides to look through the footage, too, and thinks to himself that the masked man must have been trained.
The military officer from before introduces himself to Ki-hyung, and tells him about a person who fits the profile he mentioned. Ki-hyung checks the video recording of the suspect, Dr. Jang, during a parliamentary hearing on the program “JUPITR” (Joint U.S. Forces in Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition), where he advised the committee to prepare for biowarfare—though they ignored his counsel.
Nana informs the group that Dr. Jang wanted to build a biochemistry research center at the park, and Sun-woo asks the military officer what happened to Dr. Jang. He tells them that they thought he was unstable and dismissed him. Nana finds out his current whereabouts, and they learn that Dr. Jang now works at a pharmaceutical company.
Min-young interrupts their meeting to tell them that three more people have died, and with the clock ticking, the team splits up to investigate Dr. Jang’s house and the pharmaceutical company. Meanwhile, the emergency room continues to be a battleground, every inch covered with blood and sick patients.
Ki-hyung and Sun-woo visit the pharmaceutical company and learn of Dr. Jang’s absence. At the house, Hyun-joon and Han ring the doorbell, and a man watches them on surveillance cameras. Han walks around the perimeter and stumbles upon an unlocked door.
No traces of the anthrax bacteria are found at the pharmaceutical company, so Sun-woo calls Hyun-joon to ask if they’ve found any clues. He explains how they got in through an unlocked door, but something seems off.
Han explores the house by himself and finds a peculiar title in a bookcase. He pulls the book, which opens a door to a secret staircase. It leads to an underground laboratory, and Han notices a trail of blood on the floor. As Han explores the underground area, Hyun-joon is a few steps behind, and comes upon the open secret passageway. Warily, he makes his way down the stairs.
Han follows the blood to a curtain, but as he opens it, the masked man leaps out and stabs him in the gut. He attempts to stab Han a second time, but the alarm goes off as Hyun-joon approaches, and the man breaks a vial instead and makes a hasty getaway. Oh no, he’s been exposed to anthrax! Knowing this, Han quickly locks the lab, barring Hyun-joon from entering.
Meanwhile, young niece Ha-eun is on the bus for her field trip when her friend suggests that she call her mom, too. She calls Min-young, addressing her as “mom,” and Min-young quickly tells her to call her “aunt.” Before they can talk, Nana comes in to tell her about Han’s situation, and Min-young hastily hangs up on Ha-eun.
Hyun-joon yells at Han to get out this instant, but Han reassures him that more exposure won’t speed up the infection. Hyun-joon threatens to break down the door if Han doesn’t come out, and with a shaky voice, Han calls Hyun-joon “hyung.”
He tells him that he isn’t going to die since he’s smart, which means he can find the cure and the culprit if he examines the lab. Hearing sirens arriving outside, Hyun-joon tells Han to wait for a bit. Once alone, Han turns around, revealing a stab wound in his abdomen.
Hyun-joon calls Han to let him know they’ll get him out, but Han says that he’ll stay inside to investigate. With only seven hours left, Sun-woo agrees with Han, but Hyun-joon refuses to watch another comrade die before his eyes. He turns to Ki-hyung, hoping he’ll convince Han otherwise, but Ki-hyung says that they should trust Han.
Nana links to the surveillance cameras inside the lab, and Sun-woo asks Han what he remembers. He tells them that he followed the trail of blood which led to Dr. Jang, and from the state of his body, he must have been dead for a couple of days.
Han continues his search and finds two desks in the back. The organized desk was used by a man named Lee Seok-han, who studied under Dr. Jang at university. Han looks over his notes and deduces that Lee Seok-han has a subordinate personality. However, once they pull up his picture, Han knows that he wasn’t his attacker.
Flipping through the research materials in the lab, Han discovers more notes about clinical trials, suggesting that the criminals conducted tests on humans. Sun-woo says that there haven’t been any cases of people dying from anthrax, but Hyun-joon guesses that the medical professionals didn’t recognize it.
Nana runs a search to find three individuals who died from acute lung disease around the same time, and all three worked as event staff members for a private security company. After more digging, she gasps—the head of the company, Choi Ho-sung, used to work with Dr. Jang as a soldier. Nana sends a photo of him to Han, and Han recognizes him as his attacker.
In flashback to three days ago, in the lab, we see how Dr. Jang argued with Choi Ho-sung about using the bacteria to kill people since he only intended it as a security measure to protect the nation from bioterrorism. Angered, Choi Ho-sung had called him a coward, then bashed his head in with a fire extinguisher while Lee Seok-han screamed in terror.
They learn that Choi Ho-sung left the military after beating up a subordinate for incompetence, but Nana can’t access his profile because it’s locked under code black. Ki-hyung asks Chief Director Baek for help, and the director, despite his reluctance, complies by heading to a heavily secured data room. Once there, he accesses Choi’s profile.
Chief Director Baek tells them that Choi Ho-sung lost his entire platoon after a biochemical attack while stationed abroad, but in actuality, the chemical was a leak from an allied nation. To cover up the truth, the government destroyed all records about the event.
Ki-hyung tells the group that the next location will hold symbolic meaning, and they all rack their brains, trying to connect the pieces. Min-young is the first to realize that it’s the Independence Hall, which also happens to be where Ha-eun is having her school field trip.
In the main room of the Independence Hall, Ha-eun bumps into a maintenance man, causing her to fall. The man helps her up, and it’s Choi Ho-sung. He enters a maintenance room, and calls his partner Lee Seok-han, telling him not to worry.
Min-young paces frantically, and when Sun-woo comes out to check on her, Min-young confesses that Ha-eun is at the hall. She starts to call in a warning to the teacher, but Sun-woo stops her because protocol prohibits them from notifying anyone—even family.
Min-young begs Sun-woo to reconsider, but Sun-woo firmly says that they can’t put other kids at risk for one child. This is part of their job, and they have to overcome it. Wiping away her tears, Min-young apologizes, and Sun-woo tells her firmly her that they will save them and gives her a hug.
When the NCI team arrives, everywhere but the main hall has been searched, and the SWAT team prepares to rush in. Hyun-joon orders a halt to the raid, and the SWAT team leader barges in, demanding an explanation.
Sun-woo tells him that they shouldn’t make hasty moves until they get a full grasp of the situation, but the SWAT team leader argues that lives are at stake. Hyun-joon interjects, telling him that acting too quickly could result in more danger, but the room goes silent when Ki-hyung drops his folder.
He’s experiencing another headache as the sound muffles around him and his vision blurs. Sun-woo recalls the chief director’s words about Ki-hyung as she looks at him in worry.
The SWAT team leader asks who will take responsibility, and Ki-hyung announces that he will. Once Nana breaks into the surveillance system, Hyun-joon and Sun-woo head inside the building to investigate. Hyun-joon mentally runs through the criminal’s likely thought process about how to best accomplish his objective, and comes to the realization that he would need to utilize the wind, as he did at the park.
They fix their attention on the ventilation system, and Sun-woo heads into the maintenance room, where she finds the tampered fan.
The ventilation fans are on a regular schedule, and they have only eight minutes until the fan turns on. A staff member is sent to shut down the fans, but Choi Ho-sung strikes him down before he can turn it off.
Choi Ho-sung reaches for the controls—just as Hyun-joon orders him to stop. Hyun-joon steps out from the shadows pointing his gun at Choi Ho-joon, who freezes.
But as Hyun-joon steps closer, Choi throws his wrench at Hyun-joon and flips on the fan. Hyun-joon immediately turns it off and chases after him, while Choi tells his partner to proceed to the next plan.
Ki-hyung orders Nana to look for a vehicle around the perimeter, and they locate a suspicious van that was also seen at the park. Ki-hyung calls for backup as Lee Seok-han recklessly drives towards the hall, and Sun-woo hears the new orders.
Hyun-joon chases Choi Ho-sung to the rooftop, but the ex-soldier swiftly disarms him with a kick. They exchange blows, but Hyun-joon gains the upper hand when he grabs Choi Ho-sung in a chokehold. Choi Ho-sung escapes, but Hyun-joon kicks him in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground.
Sun-woo steps in front of the barreling van, and the sight of armed officers cause Lee Seok-han to abandon the vehicle and run. He’s quickly arrested, and Sun-woo makes her way to the back of the van.
On the rooftop, Hyun-joon points his gun at Choi Ho-sung, who finds himself trapped. Snipers stationed from nearby buildings train their rifles on Choi, who holds up a detonator—linked to a bomb in the van, which Sun-woo discovers when she opens the trunk.
Hyun-joon orders him to drop the detonator, but Choi Ho-sung smiles as he presses the button. A sniper shoots him, but it’s already too late.
With the clock literally ticking, Nana jams all the electronic signals in the area, buying them five minutes—after that, the detonator signal will connect. They realize that Choi’s plan was to explode the vehicle and send anthrax bacteria flying through the air, meaning they’re dealing with a double crisis.
Nana tells Sun-woo to get out of there, but Sun-woo grimly declares that she’ll move the bomb and gets behind the wheel. She peels out, asking Nana to find her the safest place to go—but her path is completely blocked off by a car accident. Sun-woo is stuck on a crowded road with a bomb and a van filled with anthrax bacteria.
Out of options, she takes pictures of the bomb, and with those, Hyun-joon starts to instruct her on how to defuse it. He goes through every step with her, and Sun-woo barely breaks a sweat as the seconds tick down. She follows his instructions methodically and manages to disconnect the bomb, leaving her with ten seconds to remove the explosive from the van.
As the time elapses, the team is anxious when Sun-woo doesn’t immediately respond. But she succeeds, leaving the bomb and bacteria safely intact.
Min-young races into the hall, searching for Ha-eun, and once she finds her, she hugs her in relief.
The vaccine is found in the lab and administered to patients, and the government lies about the incident, blaming a new virus as the cause of the recent deaths. Han remains unconscious despite treatment, and the CDCK worker tells Sun-woo to wait.
Two weeks later, Min-young makes kimbap for Ha-eun. The housekeeper finds Ha-eun’s love for kimbap surprising, but Min-young explains that Ha-eun’s mother (Min-young’s sister) promised to make kimbap and take her on a picnic, but died in a car crash with her husband the day before.
The NCI team go out for a picnic, including Han-byul and Ha-eun, and as Hyun-joon plays with the kids, Ki-hyung smiles. Min-young notes that it’s been a while since he’s shown that expression, and mentions what a good man Hyun-joon is.
She heard from Ha-eun’s teacher that someone with a radio warned her to get out of the building, but Ki-hyung tells her that Hyun-joon was on the second floor at the time. The truth dawns on her, and Min-young realizes that Sun-woo broke the rules for her.
Sun-woo places a bouquet of white chrysanthemums at the park for the victims. Hyun-joon joins her, and she tells him that since the victims’ families don’t know the truth, they should at least remember them. He asks why she didn’t tell Min-young about what she did, but Sun-woo says that she was only doing what was right.
She walks down the path, and Hyun-joon trails after her, asking to walk together. He narrates, “Sometimes convictions are more dangerous foes to the world than lies.”
Afterward, as Ki-hyung closes the trunk of his car, he notices something alarming—Han-byul is missing from the car. He looks around, calling for his son, and a camera shutter goes off.
Unlike the previous two major cases, this episode was the first time the show dealt with a self-contained arc. The episode started with the biowarfare incident, the team investigated the case, and the day was saved. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the format because everything felt concise, and the payoff was immediate. Telling compact stories that end in one episode do run the risk of feeling rushed and haphazard, but I thought the show did a decent job balancing the plot and character moments. Despite the name of show being Criminal Minds, it’s about the NCI team, and in that regard, I think this episode did a fair job of exploring the characters from the main three and the supporting roles.
Hyun-joon continues to act as the dissenter, though there’s been substantial growth in his character from the first episode to now. Despite his grievances about the NCI’s decision to lie to the public, Hyun-joon didn’t let this disagreement hinder him from acting as part of the team, and unlike before when he delineated every issue as black and white, he’s learning to accept the fact that gray areas exist. This was especially apparent when the NCI team argued with the SWAT team leader. The SWAT team leader basically embodied the old Hyun-joon who assumed the NCI were heartless people who didn’t care about the lives at stake, and it seemed that Hyun-joon recognized that old quality of his in this man. Thus, we saw how much Hyun-joon has changed when he defended the NCI’s actions to wait, and how he’s learned to appreciate planning and deliberation. He may understand the SWAT leader’s impatience, but now he’s learning to stay levelheaded and outmaneuver the bad guys.
This episode also revealed more layers to Sun-woo, and unlike the typical buddy-cop dynamic where opposites balance each other, I think Sun-woo and Hyun-joon are quite similar. At the core, they share the same traits but just in different balances, which was displayed in this episode as Sun-woo does a more typical Hyun-joon-esque move. From the beginning, Sun-woo has displayed fierce loyalty, and despite her no-nonsense front, she gets passionate about saving lives and seeking justice like Hyun-joon. Though she acted tough towards Min-young, forcing her to adhere to the rules, Sun-woo broke protocol to help her teammate and possibly save a few children’s lives. It’s possible that Hyun-joon’s presence has influenced her to act that way, but I think she would have done the same even if she never met him.
However, they’ve met, and consequently, they’ve influenced each other and have become better people as a result. Even if they don’t end up in a romantic relationship (though there are hints of one), they’ve become remarkable teammates and friends. They trust each other’s ability and character, and this gradual growth has evolved naturally without any fanfare.
Though we see a lot from our main trio, this episode was also about Han and Min-young. Han displayed an immense amount of grit that I didn’t expect from him, and found it endearing. As the resident genius and genuine oddball, he always seemed a bit distant from everybody else, but Han’s decision to protect Hyun-joon (calling him hyung!) and to stay inside to help the investigation made me realize that Han also loves his team in his own unique way. I usually forget that Han is the youngest in the group, but the way everyone reacted when they heard he was attacked showed how much the group sees him in that role.
I thought the team’s decision to let Han stay inside wasn’t out of a selfish desire to manipulate him (though I’m sure they felt the pressure) but was about a real sense of trust, as Ki-hyung told Hyun-joon. The “baby” of the group has volunteered to put his life at risk to help the team catch the culprit, and despite their worries, they let him have his wish because they know he has the strength and intelligence to succeed. Though Hyun-joon’s reaction was completely reasonable, I think the team made the right choice in acknowledging Han’s own agency in the matter and respecting his decision to stay inside.
Lastly, this episode was equally about Min-young as it was about Han. She’s a hardworking agent who’s skilled at her job, but when she realizes that her niece might be in danger, she loses her composure. While I did roll my eyes at the coincidence of another team member’s loved one being in harm’s way, I let it slide since it revealed an interesting aspect of Min-young and her private life. In a way, I felt this character moment for Min-young was a nice contrast to Han’s. For me, both showed a new side to themselves, and as a result, we see them more as whole individuals rather than cut-outs. While Han displayed courage I didn’t know he had in him, Min-young exposed her vulnerable side, contrasting against her usual, cool demeanor. She makes mistakes and gets caught up in work, but at the end of the day, she’s a worried aunt who wants the best for her niece who’s experienced loss at a young age.
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