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Life on Mars: Episode 2

Premiere week for Life On Mars loses no momentum in its second episode as Tae-joo tries to piece together what’s happened to him while simultaneously catching a killer. His rocky introduction to the team certainly doesn’t help matters, but nobody said time travel was easy.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

In the middle of a chaotic crime scene in 1988, our detective from 2018, Tae-joo, reels from the alarming similarities between this victim and the modern-day Manicure Killer’s MO. Fellow cop Nam-shik reports to their captain Dong-chul that the victim is a café employee who disappeared after stealing money from her boss. Additionally, the recent loss of her only family to illness spurs Dong-chul to conclude that she likely killed herself in despair.

Pesky Reporter Bae dogs Dong-chul for details while Tae-joo examines the body. Something about the blood pattern is off and he asks Nam-shik about CCTV footage. Nam-shik doesn’t understand what he’s talking about and is further confused when Tae-joo mentions an autopsy. He wonders why anyone would autopsy a suicide victim and Tae-joo announces she was murdered.

Tae-joo storms off, but his declaration was loud enough for the reporters to hear and they knock down Dong-chul in their frenzy. Tae-joo, on the other hand, doesn’t even notice the pandemonium following in his wake. He questions how this case is related to Kim Min-seok despite him only being 8 years old in this timeline. Whether Min-seok time-jumped with him, or is actually a copycat of this killer, Tae-joo resolves to figure it out.

The reporters have disappeared by the time Dong-chul catches up with Tae-joo, and he wastes no time grabbing the younger man by the collar. Fuming, Dong-chul demands to know how Tae-joo could assume it was murder just by glancing at the body. Tae-joo calmly points out that had the victim jumped, she would’ve sustained more than just a head injury, but she wasn’t bleeding anywhere else. He further explains that there was no blood spatter—it had pooled—meaning she’d been killed elsewhere and dumped in the alley.

Breaking free, Tae-joo starts to walk away but Dong-chul grabs him again. Still unconvinced and annoyed by Tae-joo’s attitude, Dong-chul is further shocked when Tae-joo declares that this isn’t just a murder—but a serial murder. Dong-chul scoffs and starts to rail on him when he spots ever-persistent Reporter Bae over Tae-joo’s shoulder, taking note of every word. Slapping on a bright smile, he tries to do some damage-control but Reporter Bae is already scurrying away to write up his scoop.

Everyone reconvenes at Dong-chul’s car and snickers when he walks up sporting ajumma pants (since his got soaked when he fell in the alley). Irritated, Dong-chul takes it out on Tae-joo by tossing his soggy pants in the backseat where Tae-joo was about to sit. Nam-shik innocently moves the pants only for Yong-ki to recline his seat all the way back. Dong-chul suggests he take the bus instead and offers to pay for the transport, throwing a measly coin at Tae-joo.

As they drive back, Dong-chul and Yong-ki laugh at their prank on Tae-joo. They predict he’ll be gone the rest of the afternoon (as the directions they gave would send him in the opposite direction) and are stunned when they arrive just as Tae-joo is getting out of a taxi. The cab driver runs up to Dong-chul for the fare and Tae-joo reminds him that he offered to pay transportation fees. Hee.

Tae-joo is taken aback to discover the autopsy is being performed at a health center and is even more dubious when he meets the medical examiner, MANAGER PARK. Luckily, Manager Park seems to know his stuff and immediately confirms that the victim was murdered. He also determines that she’s been dead for a day, was killed with a mallet, and was not sexually assaulted. He’s unsure about the white powder Tae-joo notices on her hands but agrees to test it.

Frustrated, Tae-joo asks about DNA testing and while the rest of the team is baffled, Manager Park is impressed at his knowledge. Unfortunately, the only way to do those tests is to send the body to America, which would take months.

Immediately after returning to the station, CHIEF KIM drops by to fume about Reporter Bae’s newspaper article. He berates the team until he notices Tae-joo, deducing that he’s the new transfer. Tae-joo just meets him with his trademark silent stare and Chief Kim snaps that he should salute his superiors. He storms out, grumbling about how rude they all are.

Afterwards, their teammate Na-young listens in as the team discusses the case, jotting down notes. Nam-shik reports that the victim took a delivery to a motel three days ago and hasn’t been seen since. The name for the room is likely fake and the owner could only offer a vague description for the occupant. Tae-joo wants to send a forensic team to check the room but Dong-chul has reached his limit and suggests they each do separate investigations.

Tae-joo heads to the records room in hopes of finding some connection to Kim Min-seok. As he flips through files, he hears disembodied voices and medical equipment beeping. The sound of a defibrillator echoes at the same time the lights flicker out and Tae-joo collapses to the floor. He notices a figure pass by in his peripheral vision but before he can investigate, the lights come back on and Na-young calls out to him.

Tae-joo asks her if there’s anything on previous serial murders but Na-young says they’ve never had such a case in their district. She shows him the files they have for female victims, but there’s no correlation. Changing tactics, Tae-joo asks for directions to the victim’s workplace but from the blank look on his face, her detailed answer isn’t going to be enough.

They question the coffee shop proprietress as to whether she’d noticed any men following the victim. She reveals that the girl had a lot of admirers and can’t remember anything special about the voice of the man who had called in her final delivery except that he seemed young. Finally, Tae-joo asks for a list of the rest of the deliveries she’d made that day. Confused, the owner replies she’s already given that list to the police and motions to a room behind a curtain.

Inside, the other three detectives are watching a dirty movie. Tae-joo whips open the curtain and Nam-shik rushes to click off the movie when he notices Na-young peeking over Tae-joo’s shoulder. The men exchange a few barbs and Na-young excuses herself. A booklet catches Tae-joo’s eye but before he can pick it up, Dong-chul slams his hand over it and snidely tells him to find his own clues.

The proprietress delivers the ashtray Dong-chul called for and asks if what the newspapers said about a serial murder case is true. Dong-chul scoffs but the woman wonders if the victim’s coworker could be the culprit. She says that the man was very interested in the victim and quit the day after she disappeared.

Dong-chul and Tae-joo find the man DJ-ing at another establishment but before Tae-joo can ask his first question, Dong-chul is already beating him up and dragging him away. By the time they start the actual interrogation, the DJ’s been stripped to his skivvies and his face is a bloody mess.

Tae-joo gets first crack but only manages to find out the man last saw the victim three days ago and had a “normal” conversation before Dong-chul takes over with threats and more violence. He accuses the DJ of murder, but the man adamantly denies involvement. He does admit to stalking, but quickly points out that he wasn’t the only one who followed her around.

As Dong-chul and Yong-ki continue to kick the DJ around, Tae-joo flips through the man’s file. A notation on hand surgery catches his eye and he tells the other detectives to stop. Dong-chul ignores him but Tae-joo points out that the man is incapable of bending his fingers and therefore couldn’t have painted the victim’s nails. Unimpressed, Dong-chul refuses to let him go but Nam-shik appears and reports that their suspect was at a funeral the day of the murder.

Back at square one, the team questions everyone with a connection to the victim but they don’t learn anything new. On his way out, Tae-joo hands Na-young a slip of paper with Kim Min-seok’s name and birthday and asks her to look into it.

That night, Tae-joo runs into Dong-chul on his way to check the crime scene again. They engage in a petty shuffle to get there first and Tae-joo wins but immediately zips back. Signaling Dong-chul to be quiet, they both peek around the corner and see a hooded figure crouched where the body had been found. They jump out together only to find that the figure is just Na-young.

Tae-joo flips through her notebook as Dong-chul reprimands Na-young. Sheepishly, she admits that she came because she was curious about the weird bloodstains on the wall next to the body. Tae-joo explains that killer must’ve initially propped the body up, but it had fallen over after he left. He then asks about her notes and Dong-chul reads a detailed psychological profile from the pages.

With a bashful smile, Na-young tells them she was a psychology major before she dropped out. Her notion that the murder wasn’t a crime of passion piques Tae-joo’s curiosity and Na-young points out that in those cases, assailants tend to attack the faces of their victims. The fact that this woman’s face was intact suggests he felt affection rather than anger.

Tae-joo wonders why he killed her, if he liked her. Na-young thinks the killer is an introvert who was trying to project his desires onto the victim but things didn’t go the way he wanted, so he lashed out. Dong-chul mockingly applauds her “fiction-writing” skills but Tae-joo argues that Na-young’s analysis could hold weight, pointing out that the killer didn’t kill the victim right away.

Na-young suddenly remembers a missing person report she’d received earlier about another girl who works in a coffee shop. The team wastes no time tracking down the correct shop and discover that this girl also disappeared after being called to deliver to a motel. They race over and burst into the room, scaring the bejeezus out of the cleaning lady. The occupant is gone but luckily the maid hadn’t gotten to the floor yet and Tae-joo notices some sugar spilled.

Ordering the other detectives to stay in the hall, he rushes to the bathroom and mixes up a soapy water solution. Back in the room he pours it over the floor and the team watches in awe as two footprints appear due to the change in pH balance. Dong-chul identifies them as combat boots and while the other detectives check nearby bases, Tae-joo remembers the DJ mentioning a soldier among the first victim’s suitors.

They drag the DJ back in but he says he’s only seen the man’s face once, at night. He’s happy to help though, reveling a bit at how the tables have turned. Unfortunately, even after looking through the pictures multiple times, he’s still unable to ID anyone and Dong-chul sends him home.

Taking a break at the bar, Dong-chul asks Tae-joo why he seemed to know details about the case. Tae-joo says there was a similar case back in Seoul, but the culprit got away. This surprises Dong-chul and he scoffs that the high-and-mighty Tae-joo made a mistake, wondering how the killer got away. “I let him go,” Tae-joo deadpans.

The smile slides off Dong-chul’s face and Tae-joo continues that he had the chance to arrest the guy, but let him go. Dong-chul mutters that Tae-joo was so condescending, but figures that mistake is what got him transferred. He asks if the culprit could be the same person but Tae-joo only says they’ll find out when they catch him.

The next morning, Tae-joo tries calling the Seoul offices again and asks for Seo-hyun. The person on the other line understandably has no clue what he’s talking about and he hangs up dejectedly. The mysterious barman calls out that sighing doesn’t solve anything and Tae-joo admits that he feels lost. “You are yourself, wherever you are,” the barman replies, “You’re not someone else. If you try your best in your situation, everything will settle back to normal.”

Stepping outside, Tae-joo hears the voice again and sees the man from the TV. “Don’t give up on yourself,” the man tells him, “You have to stay strong in order to wake up.” He urges Tae-joo to stay strong and never give up before disappearing again just as Na-young arrives. She tells him that she looked into Kim Min-seok but there wasn’t anything on him at City Hall. He asks if she can expand her search countrywide, but she says it’ll be difficult.

Remembering that there’s no database in 1988, he agrees that the task is daunting and would likely take years. Na-young asks what an 8-year-old boy has to do with their case, and Tae-joo soberly tells her that Kim Min-seok is a murderer. She’s confused and Tae-joo snaps that while he’s only a child here, in his timeline in 2018, Min-seok murdered seven people and kidnapped his ex-fiancée, Seo-hyun.

Na-young is taken aback at the mention of a fiancée but Tae-joo pushes on, telling her that he was chasing after Min-seok when he had an accident. After waking up, he was here and this murder case mirrored the cases from his timeline. A little freaked out, Na-young asks if he’s feeling okay.

Deflated, Tae-joo admits that he sounds crazy even to his own ears. Na-young jots down the number of a doctor she knows and urges him to get a checkup, earnestly worrying that he may have suffered psychological damage from the car accident with Dong-chul.

They finally hear back from the health center but Dong-chul can’t understand the medical terminology and passes the phone over to Tae-joo. Turns out Manager Park identified the white powder on the victim’s hands as calcium sulfate, the main component of plaster. The team is disappointed but Tae-joo reminds them that the first victim was kept alive one day before he killed her, which suggests that they only have nine hours left to save the second.

Based off the first crime, Tae-joo doubts the second victim was chosen on impulse, meaning the killer had to have stalked her as well. Dong-chul is positive the culprit isn’t from the area but they don’t have time to wade through official channels. Everyone is stumped at how to proceed until Dong-chul whips out a little black book.

Tae-joo watches as Dong-chul goes to work on the phone and before long, the station is packed with all the neighborhood leaders. Dong-chul tells the crowd that they’re looking for a young man that recently moved to the neighborhood and describes the details they know. It works and an ajumma recalls a strange man who lives alone, while another resident remembers the man purchasing camera film from him.

They check out the house and find a dark room with pictures of the first victim. Tae-joo acknowledges that Na-young’s analysis was spot-on about the “object of his desires,” as the culprit dressed his victims up like actresses. Dong-chul finds a jacket covered in briquette powder and Tae-joo points out that calcium sulfate is used in the production of briquettes.

Dong-chul drives the team to a nearby briquette factory and they split up to search. Tae-joo finds bags of calcium sulfate stacked outside a small building and he and Dong-chul go in to investigate. In the basement, they find the location where the first victim had been held and photographed along with the murder weapon.

Dong-chul busts the lock off a door and in a backroom they find the second victim, alive. Footsteps alert the men to the arrival of the culprit and when Tae-joo stands up, he sees Kim Min-seok standing in the doorway. He shoots Tae-joo a smirk before reattaching his face mask and sprinting away.

Tae-joo gives chase but temporarily loses him in a crowd of employees. Dong-chul catches up and Tae-joo crouches down to look for the telltale combat boots. They spot the killer at the same time and bolt after him, Dong-chul motioning for the other two detectives to circle around to cut him off.

Tae-joo tackles the killer and they roll down a hill. The killer jumps up first and kicks Tae-joo in the face just as Dong-chul runs up, shouting, “How dare you do that to a detective!” He and Yong-ki manage to catch and subdue the killer as Nam-shik checks on Tae-joo.

The reporters have already arrived when the detectives lead the culprit out to the police car. Catching up to the others, Tae-joo makes a beeline for the killer, and shoves him against a squad car. Ripping off the face mask, he’s shocked to see a face he doesn’t recognize. Tae-joo demands to know the man’s connection to Kim Min-seok but he’s never heard the name before.

Tae-joo goes ballistic and has to be pried off of him, while Na-young looks on with concern.

The team celebrates back at the bar, but while the others dance about, Tae-joo is lost in thought. He slips out—unnoticed by everyone except Na-young—and returns to the station. Reviewing the case file, Tae-joo notes that nothing connects to Kim Min-seok. Frustrated, he throws the file on the floor, wondering if the case really isn’t related to the killer from his timeline.

Na-young walks in and picks up the file and sweetly suggests that he get some rest since he hasn’t eaten or slept since yesterday.

Tae-joo: “I have no sense of reality right now. Everything I do feels like I’m floundering about in water. I have no idea why I’m here, and I can’t tell if this is reality or a dream.”

Tae-joo asks if he’s gone mad and Na-young tells him a story about when she was in college. She says she did some field work at a nursing home and met a man there suffering from a severe head injury. The injury made him forget what certain objects were called and he was frustrated and depressed. However, the next time she visited, he was happy. When asked why, he told her he’d simply stopped thinking.

“Get some rest, sir,” Na-young tells him, “You look like you’re struggling quite a lot right now.”

As he’s leaving, Tae-joo hears the voice again and he follows it. He finds the TV man and asks if he’s the one who’s been talking to him. The man replies in an echoey voice that he’s Tae-joo’s doctor, JANG WON-JAE, and that he’s speaking with him through Tae-joo’s subconscious. He explains that Tae-joo is currently a patient at Seoul Central Hospital and claims that Seo-hyun is there as well. At the mention of her name, Tae-joo advances on the doctor, but when he reaches out to grab him, he finds himself standing back at the end of the hall, where he started. Freaky.

Doctor Jang continues that Seo-hyun is waiting for him to wake up. Relieved that Seo-hyun is seemingly okay, Tae-joo asks if this means he’s comatose. “Everything you see, regardless of what it is, is not real,” Doctor Jang replies. He urges Tae-joo to break free from the “illusion” so he can return. Reiterating that Seo-hyun is waiting, Doctor Jang tells Tae-joo not to give up.

Next thing we know, Tae-joo is standing on the ledge of the police station roof. He flashes back to his last interaction with Kim Min-seok in 2018, the gunshot, his ears bleeding, and the echoey voices of nurses with beeping defibrillator machines. Doctor Jang’s last words replay in his mind and Tae-joo finds his resolve.

Tae-joo: “Everything finally makes sense now. I’m inside of a dream right now. Up until now, I’ve been dreaming within my subconscious. Let’s go back. It’s time to wake up now.”

Closing his eyes, Tae-joo dangles one foot over the ledge.

 
COMMENTS

Noooo! I don’t know why, but something about that last chat with the doc was unnerving. Up until that point, I was fairly convinced Tae-joo was in a coma and the hallucinations were the outside world seeping in… but now I’m not so sure. For starters, one way or another he must be lying about Seo-hyun. Because if she is there, why isn’t she trying to talk to Tae-joo as well? It’s weird to think she just turned up after everything that had happened. So maybe he’s lying just to give Tae-joo a push to wake up… but is that all? The way he said everything Tae-joo sees is an illusion is what really struck me. True, if you’re in a coma then everything you “see” should be a dream. But this is the most detailed dream ever and I’m sorry, but if your dream is powerful enough that you can feel pain and bleed, maybe it’s not such a good idea to try killing yourself to wake up. Just sayin’.

But… if this is just a coma, what the heck was Kim Min-seok talking about when he mentioned Tae-joo’s “other self?” That speaks more to some crazy intersecting timelines. My theory runs along the idea that somehow Tae-joo has two physical bodies and his consciousness is what’s doing the time travel. But then, what was his 1988 body doing before he arrived? I could go on, but I’m going to stop myself now before my head explodes trying to figure out the mechanics of this world. We’re only two episodes in, for pete’s sake!

I do have to wonder, though, whether we’ll be staying in 1988 or jumping back and forth. And if there is jumping involved, hopefully Tae-joo doesn’t have to literally jump every time.

For a darker show, the characters sure are fun. I really love the balance of our main trio, not only in personalities but skillset. Tae-joo is righteous to a fault, analytical, and a bit of a stick-in-the-mud. Dong-chul, on the other hand, lives by a “the ends justify the means” ethical code, is street savvy, and surprisingly charming. Rounding them out though, is Na-young with her idealistic enthusiasm, and perception into people’s thoughts and emotions. She’s got such a pure heart and I suspect a budding affection for our displaced detective. He’s the only one who treats her with the respect she deserves and recognizes that she has something more valuable to offer than serving coffee and washing soiled trousers. She looked a little crushed when Tae-joo mentioned having an ex-fiancee and will surely be bummed when he returns to his own timeline, but I really appreciate that he already feels comfortable enough to confide in her (even if she thinks he might be a little crazy). As for the guys, they definitely started out on the wrong foot, but really came together over the course of the case. Their petty bickering was endearing to watch since Tae-joo is normally so stoic and when Dong-chul got upset during their final chase when the killer knocked Tae-joo down, I could see a beautiful bromance in the making.

Needless to say, I find this show fascinating. When Helcat first suggested it, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. The plot was certainly intriguing and reminiscent of great shows like Tunnel and (to a lesser extent) Signal (who doesn’t love buddy-cop time-warp adventures to catch serial killers?). I’ve never seen the original, and as much as I definitely want to after what I’ve seen so far, I’m resisting until this one has ended. I’m curious how mine and Helcat’s experiences may differ on this journey. Perhaps this show will vary enough that it won’t matter, but it’s a fun experiment nonetheless.

 
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Oh wow! Another recapper ❤️ I'm feel like I'm stranded in the sea and just received my lifesaver! DB revival! @sunny thank you for recapping! 😍😄😁😆

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I’m loving it with each episode and the camera shots are so good especially that rooftop one. I wonder if he really is going to jump or someone’s gonna pull him back but I really hope he gets some answers soon coz seeing him go crazy his making me go crazy

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Wonderful analysis of the main trio.What HTJ couldn't achieve by following proper protocol, DC did it with his street smart. Also where they're lacking scientifically, TJ comes through with ingenious methods. I'm pretty sure with their different skillsets combined, they'll be a formidable pair.
And NY and TJ really complement each other. Her psychological reasoning was very important to this case. She's still a little shy around the others, but with TJ's support, she will be a very good detective( she already is), but also one who is acknowledged for her skills.
P.S- I loved how their plan to teach him a lesson backfired.

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"[...] but I really appreciate that he already feels comfortable enough to confide in her..."

Yes! THIS! It's satisfying to see how he trusted her so naturally to hear his story.

Without spoilers, anyone who's seen the original, is Na Young a central character or just a side character? Because I already love her to pieces and can't get enough of her!! 💘

And...can I optimistically now pronounce myself out of my 3 week kdrama slump? Yes, I most certainly can.

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Central character(Annie in the original)!

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The mystery is engaging and the characters are interesting, and I love everybody's reactions whenever Tae-joo asks about technology and stuff that hasn't exist yet ^^ The police brutality and the chauvinistic attitude really chafes me, tho, hope some education are in store for these guys.
Like @sunny said, the thought that this all might just happen inside Tae-joo's head boggles my mind. Please don't let this be a case of Tae-joo and his imaginary friends, coz he seems so alone already with no one but Seo-hyun in his 2018 world.
Also, he really should stop seeing Kim Min-seok in every guy with mask and black hat...

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**Also, he really should stop seeing Kim Min-seok in every guy with mask and black hat...**
Well yes he should, but somehow I think this is important. Either he is imagining seeing him because he wants so badly to find Kim Min-seok, or maybe he really IS seeing him!
Enjoying this show overall.
Especially when they were shoving each other through that narrow alley to be the first. You could see them almost laughing!

And thanks for the recap @Sunny!!

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Another great episode (I'm hooked), but I'm gonna need Dong-chul & co. to put some RESPECT on Yoon Na-young's name

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Ooh we have a new DB recapper!! Thank you for being part of LOM recaps @sunny 😊

I am loving the show! It's fast paced and exciting but has it's moments where we get to see the personalities of the characters.. The troika- or actually let's include all the 5 members of the crew- is full of such contrasting personalities that it will make for a very interesting squad!

What I would love in the next ep itself is for Na Young to put the other 3 in their place and refuse to serve coffee or wash clothes rather than Tae Joo speaking up for her... She has both the smarts and the emotional compass to be easily the best character of the show till now..

Park Sung Woong is brilliant as usual.. makes me want to kick him! 😄 Jung Kyung Ho is awesome too (❤️) but is it just me who is not comfortable with his weird makeup in 1988? He didn't look like this in the 2018 timeline, right?

Also I said it in the last ep too, and I felt the same thing again- the way the camera moves or the way the story unfolds keeps me on the edge and if I am watching it around midnight, I get a lil nervous and keep looking around me! Clearly I am not made for horror shows but a simple thriller is doing this to me!

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So far my opinion is: could use less of officer beat up the citizens and his equally testosterone laden asshole friend unless completely 100% needed and more of Na Young. I have no real opinion on the guy who's clearly crushing on her, the fact that he also treats her like a maid doesn't endear me to him but at least he's not dismissive! And he's not an ass to Tae-Joo for no reason.

Tae-Joo is okay as a protagonist, he gets the job done and we have interesting places to go with him in the future. I assume we'll get into the stuff with his dad, might even SEE it happen.

I'm also theorizing that he's either time hopping into the body of like...someone with an intertwined soul? Not quite his past life but something like that. Or he's straight up jumping to his OWN self in a different dimension. And he just happened to exist in 1988 instead of 2018 in this other dimension.

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There's no way he's in a coma, not only does he feel pain and bleed, but he it's not possible his brain constructed a fanasty land that's so detailed is has knowledge of things that he actually wouldn't/didn't know. Like the old name of the Seoul Police district. Or that he was using the phone incorrectly. Or that a database of people didn't exist yet. How far forensics has penetrated the Korean police force. Stuff like that is WAY too detailed.

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@Sunny amazing recap! I too had similar questions about whether there were 2 bodies or 2 timelines or whether he was actually in a coma and this was in fact, his subconscious. But then his physical pain wouldn't make sense.

I think Na Young might be involved because she was always around whenever he had his "visions" and snapped out of it. I hope she too becomes central to the team because she's proved her expert psychological analysis and the ep 3 preview promises even more amazingness from her. I'm sure the rest of the guys will start taking her seriously once they realize she's more than just a coffee maker/cleaner.

I don't understand why the serial killer would have an entire lair of all the photos he'd taken- ample evidence to get caught. It was guarded by a mere lock and the fact that catching him was so easy messes me up. Maybe it's because I'm used to OCN/ thrillers pulling the big guns but it seems like (just like the present timeline) someone may have either set him up or was backing him up in his murder sprees.

My favourite scene was towards the end when there was such juxtaposition of everyone partying after catching the killer, and then there's Tae Joo at the centre of it, who seems lost, bewildered and confused. It was like he was removed from the experience and everything was just a mere hallucination. Great camerawork and directing there. Seems like only Na Young is aware of his "removedness" from situations- maybe it's because she seems great in applying Psychology.

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I think it's not because of the quality of ocn dramas. More like the time period in which it was set. they don't have the technology either to investigate or to protect themselves. Remember there are no CCTV or DNA analysis. Similarly, I don't think there are high tech security keypads available to protect their house.
Also the methods of investigation are pretty simple. They have to mostly rely on verbal interrogation. So obviously he didn't think that finding him would be so easy.
This is what I think. It maybe because we've seen investigation dramas of the present and are so used to seeing all modern techniques that you're feeling this way.

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Oh yeah you're probably right. Back then there were hardly any sophisticated methods so it makes sense that the baddies weren't as cautious I guess?

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Exactly! You saw how DC behaved during his interrogation. He just wants to hear an answer that is most convenient for him. Also when NY asked about the blood spatter on the shop door, he just said it happened somehow. Whereas TJ gave her an answer based on proper analytical skills. So its really a matter of the time period. Neither detectives nor criminals thought deep and weren't as cautious, because the methods available were so limited.

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Your right it might also tie into the fact that the police officers were rash (not carefully considering all evidence) and unbelieving of the fact that serial murders are occurring because of how few murders occurred there. Insung seemed like a relatively safe place. It was funny how DC didn't know what DNA and Calcium sulphate was (English wasn't as prominent) because it took him down a notch of his high horse.
I'm waiting for them to work together because they both have strengths. DC can bring people together and can use his connections in order to work as a team whilst TJ uses his modern knowledge and quick analytical thinking.

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Yes I liked that where TJ has limitations (interaction with ppl) DC came through. They both have their strengths which they have gained from working in their respective times and if they combine them, it'll be amazing.

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I agree that Na-young seems to be involved in Tae-joo's situation. She is always the one who called him back to the 'reality', either by calling him or by simply being there atm. I wonder what other helpful insight she can offer him to make his skewed reality a bit better.

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there's no manner he is in a coma, now not most effective does he experience pain and bleed, but he it is not viable his brain constructed a fanasty land it really is so specified is has information of factors that he clearly wouldn't/failed to understand. just like the old call of the Seoul Police district. Or that he turned into the use of the telephone incorrectly. Or that a database of people didn't exist yet. How far forensics has penetrated the Korean police force. Stuff like this is way too particular.

every other super episode (i'm hooked), however i am gonna want Dong-chul & co. to place some respect on Yoon Na-younger's name
Araw Gabi extraordinary analysis of the main trio.What HTJ couldn't achieve by means of following right protocol, DC did it with his street smart. also wherein they're missing scientifically, TJ comes via with inventive techniques. i am pretty sure with their special skillsets blended, they will be a formidable pair.

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Thank you for taking this on @Sunny and coming on board. Appreciate you taking the time.

It is a bit of a conundrum, isn't it? On some level it feels like TJ's in a coma but then the Magic Doctor pops up and throws us for a loop. It almost feels like we're watching The Matrix or something along those lines. And then there's 2018 KMS saying that he'd met TJ at another time... adding more confusion about whether actual time travel is involved. On top of that, there are the "hallucinations" as well. What are we to make of those?

The highlight for me in this episode was the low tech investigative methods. :D I'm glad TJ isn't portrayed as a know-it-all, one-man show thumbing his nose at everything 1988. I loved it when DC pulled out his little black book and started calling all his neighbourhood sources and using them to track down the killer. It highlights to me the thought that's being put into the details and the effort being made to further contrast the respective time periods. More than that, of course, it highlights the necessity of teamwork. TJ may be much more motivated to find the killer but he certainly can't do it on his own. He is out of his element. The tech driven approach that he's accustomed to isn't going to go very far.

The part that did surprise me is that while they may have caught the killer in 1988, we still don't know what the connection between him and KMS from 2018 yet. This suggests to me that it might become an ongoing arc... the search for KMS.

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I know it's a bit far fetched, but is it possible that the man chasing the young TJ along the tracks was KMS? I know he doesn't look that old, but maybe the person chasing the kid was also an adolescent. We never saw the chaser clearly. Maybe he was an accomplice that time who was ordered by the culprit to chase TJ? and now he's committing his own crimes?

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I know it's a bit far fetched, but is it possible that the man chasing the young TJ along the tracks was KMS?

I was wondering that myself. It would make the 2018 killing spree time-delayed copycat murders -- or more accurately, a continuation of the original murders.

Such a scenario makes sense to me. Explaining TJ's recognition of KMS via quantum entanglement would be a lot less satisfying.

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I don't think anything can be said to be "far fetched" at this early stage when we know so little. ;) That's certainly a real possibility.
I won't say anything beyond that.

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Magic Doctor showing up on the TV in ep. 1 reminded me of that 80s blast from the past, MAX HEADROOM.

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Well, that certainly takes me back a bit. ;)

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I agree with you about Tae-Joo having to realize that he needs to work with these men if he expects to solve anything.

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I'm so tempted to pick up this show! Thank you for the recap!

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* The interrogation scene somehow reminds me the same thing in "Memoir of Murderer" but in a less brutal way.

* Wahhhh... I get a "Tunnel" vibe! As in Tunnel, Kwang-woo travelled to the present time, I'm still wondering what happens with TJ - whether it's only his hallucination while being in coma, or he really travelled to the 1988.

* Ah, Go Ah-sung.... I can't wait her character helped with the investigation with her insights and knowledge - though I know, in the mind of the male police officer, female officer is no more than someone who provides them with coffee and does some menial works.

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Thank you for your recap, Sunny! I enjoy your writing, too.

That "building hanger" at the end of the episode has me wondering which end is up, and what Doc Headroom has up his sleeve. Or if he even has a sleeve. I had been under the impression that Tae-joo was comatose, but I'm not so sure now.

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I'm sure he's comatose...
Except that you're usually right about things and I'm usually wrong.

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Because I'll never forget your spidey sense from "Because This is My First Life".

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I might just have been lucky. Or very skeptical. ;-)

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This is everything I hoped it would be and more.
Especially after having loved the original British.
Though it's really great you're recapping it, this drama is so personal to me I don't want to read any comments that might detract from what I love about it. So I apologize, because this seems really selfish.
The cast: Park Sung woo looks like he's having so much fun with his role and I'm loving it.
Jung Kyung ho: I love him to pieces and he's really nailing it.
Go Ah-sung: Perfectly played. Is she his guardian angel?
So far, the Korean take on Life on Mars is spot on.
Thank you, OCN.

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@Linda Palapala
I found it interesting that Yoon Na Young keeps turning up just as Tae Joo is about to talk to or approach the 'doctor'. Maybe it's not significant but it's a coincidence that it happened ... 2 or was it 3 times? 😉

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First, I love the way she's playing the role. And I don't think it's a coincidence. I think she came to him twice when he was in the "stacks" trying to find something. Kind of reminded me of the library in "The Devil".

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@growingbeautifully: The above is a reply to you. I can't keep names straight, must write down Yoon Na Young and Tae Joo...

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"The man replies in an echoey voice that he’s Tae-joo’s doctor, JANG WON-JAE, and that he’s speaking with him through Tae-joo’s subconscious." I'm very curious as to how this "doctor" is able to communicate with Tae-joo in this manner.

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I'm beginning to have flashbacks to ANOTHER OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN. When Park Do-kyung's shrink started consulting with Doctor Yoda about his visions of impending doom, there was vigorous discussion in the recap comments as to whether either of the shrinks were real. The way the scenes in his office were filmed with a hazy, dreamy quality, it really made you wonder if Doc Yoda might be an illusion himself. The drama included some interesting elements of Mugyo (traditional Korean shamanism), particularly in relation to how time operated.

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@buffy86 @sirena
I was wondering about this too. The nearest I can think or recall from other shows, is that the 'doctor' is also in a semi-conscious state or under hypnosis, or he is a psychic with the ability to let his subconscious/spirit wander and to recall it. A few ghost dramas had ghosts talking to people or comatose people appearing as ghosts. So it would be the mind or spirit that does the 'visiting'. And the only way for that to work is for the 'visitor' to be dead/comatose or psychic.

Or it's all just a trick of Tae Joo's mind! 😆

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@growingbeautifully All good theories. Hopefully the reveal will be worth all of our speculations :)

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Thank you @sunny and @Helcat for picking this one up to recap! It's so nice to see some new recaps up after such a drought for the past several months! I have a feeling this one is really going to require recaps for me not to be utterly confused - and I *did* watch the American version of this show. LOL!

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This premiere is so good I'm slightly scared...

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I only read a few comments, but I would like to write down my thoughts right now before I forget them. I started thinking about this last night.

Thanks @sunny for the recap.

Regarding your suspicions of the encounter with the doctor:

As I was watching that scene, I remember thinking that it could be viewed in a suspicious light. But perhaps that is what the writer intends: to confuse viewers and lead them to think that there is some conspiracy going on against Taejoo, or at least something very shady. I think, however, that this could be a subconscious representation of Tae-joo's thoughts. That the doctor mentions Seohyun being by his side might not be an indication of deceit, but rather, a representation of Tae-joo's hope that she is alive.

I think that Tae-joo is in a comatose state, but I do not believe that what he is experiencing is completely the product of his mind. The level of detail in this other world is just too good (unless the writers will want us to have suspended our disbelief by the time the show ends). It is also strange that the jacket Tae-joo is wearing contains transfer papers. So, he is in someone's body. Does he appear physically different to those whom he interacts with in the '80s? Or does he have his own face? I believe that some type of time travel has occurred.

If he is in a coma, then the appearance of the doctor could be further explained. Aren't there stories of comatose patients being aware of things going on around them while in comas? Maybe he 'saw' the doctor and heard him in the ER, explaining why the doctor appears periodically in his mind. The doctor might not be talking to him in this alternate world at all. The doctor might be talking to him in the hospital, but I believe that this figure addressing Taejoo could be the product of the latter's subconscious.

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Thank you very much @Sunny and @Helcat for good recaps!

Two episodes in and this is a great and fun ride. I really like the balance in grittiness, comedic moments, action and character interactions that's been playing out so far. It's working out nicely and gives me a sense of assurance that this show will be good until the end.

The way the mystery plays out is great too. I hope we get to discover more bits of information along with Tae Joo, and are given a chance to make informed guesses and deductions. That's the best part of watching a mystery show.

I kind of agree with you @Sunny about how it could be Tae Joo's mind that time-travels across two bodies. As one body lies in a coma (with a bullet shot through his head!) another is up and running in 1988 to prevent the crimes of 2018. The question now is whether the killer is a 1988 person who also time-travelled to continue killing in 2018, or whether there's a copy cat killer in 2018, and Tae Joon is, unknown to himself, chasing the original killer.

With this show and Sketch, my fantasy-cum-crime-mystery thirst is fully assuaged. Can't wait for all the next episodes!!! 😆

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Oh, so 'Life on Mars' actually IS 'Life on Mars'! By that I mean its the Brit series redone as an American series and now redone again as a Korean series. If you've seen the other iterations of the drama no spoilers please, though it is tempting.

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Following from our discussion on the ep 1 recap, @ally-le, I ended up watching ep 2 after all! Once Han Tae Joo goes back to the past, all comparisons with Live just flew out of the window (or at least they did for me) - in the sense that I stopped making them. And ep 2 was SO GOOD.

This one is clearly a TV show - nothing more, nothing less. I feel like I'm watching Doctor Who, there's that distinct sense of adventure, excitement, warped plot logic and something very BBC-Doctor Who-ish about this show, inexplicable time travel notwithstanding. Super excited about the rest of the series now!

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I just watched Episode 2 and I found it easier to watch than Episode 1. Or I'm getting used to the Dark Side of Reply 1988, because I caught myself chuckling at several things throughout the episode.

What I liked: Tae-Joo in a fish-out-of-water situation when it comes to doing his job. In the 2018 timeline he relied so much on technology and protocols that he actually helped a criminal go free. He obviously regrets that now. But in a practical sense he still depends on his technology. CCTV, DNA analysis, forensics team - he doesn't have those things in 1988. He's grudgingly learning to work with others' methods. I can see him making a great pair with Dong-Chul. They already have the "shhh 1-2-3" routine down, even if so far they have only scared Na Young and an ajumma with it.

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Also, who else noticed the Radiant Office reunion here?
Oh Dae-Hwan is again a boorish co-worker of Go Ah Sung's character, although this time he isn't as lazy.

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Good catch. I enjoyed RO.

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Is 1988 a significant date to pick? The American series went all the way back to the '70s, I believe. 1988 is a year after the 1987 uprising. It appears the writers are trying to avoid having to deal with stories about police political torture while under the dictatorship.

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Maybe they're just following the -30 years thing from the original series.

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the coin had been called *the bus token* in Korean 70's-80's. while watching this Drama, my parant told me that it'd been able to use it to pay the bus fare at the time. it isn't used now tho. and I found that I felt interest in the 80's stuffs. lol

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