Room No. 9: Episodes 5-6
Switching bodies has given one protagonist a chance for revenge, but the other protagonist wants nothing more than to return to her body. These desires fuel hasty actions in them both, causing them more harm than good. While it might take years to amass trust, it only takes moments to lose it, and when your foe has built his kingdom upon lies and manipulation, second chances are rare.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Hwa-sa stands in the middle of a room, her hands and dress covered in blood, and by her feet, someone lays dead on the floor. Dashing to the bathroom, Hwa-sa breaks a glass cup, cutting a finger in the process, and flushes the shards down the toilet.
She desperately cleans the bathroom to rid of any evidence but pauses when she makes eye contact with her reflection in the mirror. She thinks to herself that the hidden saying behind revenge is “to kill or be killed.” If she had to kill anyone, then it should be Young-bae—yet the man on the floor is Attorney Ma.
48 hours earlier. Attorney Ma asks in English about Hwa-sa’s true identity, but to his surprise, she answers back in English that “Hwa-sa” has a mental disorder. Undeterred, Attorney Ma then speaks in Mandarin, pointing out the company secrets contained in the letter. Hwa-sa calmly replies back in Mandarin that she didn’t divulge company secrets to anyone.
Attorney Ma laughs, convinced by Hwa-sa’s performance, and crumples up the letter sent by Hae-yi. However, as he sits alone contemplating the insane idea of body swapping, he fishes the letter out of the garbage and stares at it.
In Hae-yi’s apartment, Hwa-sa uncovers a safe in the closet, and after calling a technician, she opens it to find stacks of money, gold, and jewelry. Among the valuables is an envelope with a picture of the automobile inspector who examined Chan-sung’s car.
With the help of a fellow ex-inmate, Hwa-sa learns that it’s a “receipt,” meaning that the inspector was bribed and the photo acts as evidence of the transaction. Mi-ran is ecstatic to have found proof of Chan-sung’s guilt, but Hwa-sa wants to meet with Hae-yi first to confirm whether or not she handed out the bribe.
Hae-yi and the other inmates fill a truck with old materials from the prison, one of them being the strange defibrillator. The nurse inmate is glad to be ridden of the possessed machine, convinced that it’s from the hospital she worked at previously.
In voiceover, she tells them of a hospital that was hit by a meteor, which caused a power outage. Because of that, a pregnant lady died during surgery as well as all the babies in the incubators. She explains that the director killed himself out of guilt, and on screen, Ki San (or is it?) walked into the hospital and found a crying baby by the glowing machine.
Yoo-jin wakes up from a dream, and looks up the name of the hospital he dreamt about—the exact same one mentioned by the nurse inmate. However, Yoo-jin only saw part of the name due to the broken sign, and his search comes up empty.
The nurse inmate finishes her tale, and Hae-yi kicks the machine in farewell. As the truck drives off with the defibrillator, it passes by Hwa-sa and Mi-ran who are on their way to see Hae-yi. A sudden bolt of lightening blinds Mi-ran just then, and the two almost collide with the truck containing the defibrillator.
The prison guard prohibits Hwa-sa and Mi-ran from visiting Hae-yi since she’s already in a meeting with Attorney Ma. After Hwa-sa threatens to report them about covering up Hae-yi’s attempted escape, she gains permission to enter.
However, Hae-yi is already meeting with Attorney Ma who wants proof of her body swap claim. She recites the account number of their law firm and the day of its inauguration, but both of these fails to impress him. As he gets up to leave, Hae-yi finally reveals her trump card: Busan Junghwa All Girls High School.
One evening, Hae-yi coincidentally witnessed a trench coat man harassing unsuspecting high school girls, but to her shock, the man was Attorney Ma, revealing his nether regions for all to see. She filmed the whole incident, and back in the present, she casually tells Attorney Ma that he has a unique hobby.
She offers him a chance to swap his body for a new, younger one in exchange for a term reduction. Hwa-sa arrives just then, but it’s too late. Though she tries to reason with Hae-yi and team up, Hae-yi would rather trust Attorney Ma than her.
Attorney Ma watches the recording he made of his meeting with Hae-yi and eagerly calls Chairman Ki. Meanwhile, Yoo-jin continues to call Attorney Ma with little success, and leaves a message, asking to meet at the photo exhibition of Ki Se-woong.
All the major players slowly converge at the photo exhibition, as Hwa-sa, too, rushes over there to stop Attorney Ma from meeting Chairman Ki. The two are already together, though, fishing on the chairman’s boat, but Hwa-sa is still determined to interrupt them.
The air turns tense on the boat when Chairman Ki asks Attorney Ma why he leaked information about Hwa-sa to Yoo-jin. As Attorney Ma grows nervous, the chairman asks, “When did you figure out I was Choo Young-bae?”
Attorney Ma attempts to appease the chairman’s anger by showing him the recording of his meeting with Hae-yi, but Chairman Ki barely watches it before turning it off. He tells Attorney Ma that his gravest sin was making him believe that he was trustworthy, but now that he’s tried to backstab him, there’ll be no second chances.
Chairman Ki chokes Attorney Ma as the latter hangs precariously over the ledge, but before Attorney Ma is left to sleep with the fish, Hwa-sa arrives in a boat. Though Attorney Ma bellows claims of “Hae-yi” being Hwa-sa, Hwa-sa pretends that Attorney Ma was fooled by “Hwa-sa.”
The chairman is surprised that she would come out to the ocean just for that, and the two of them are left on the boat to talk. Showing her pictures of that rainy night, he asks her why she called him Choo Young-bae, and Hwa-sa blames Attorney Ma for setting her up. She uses herself as a bargaining chip, telling Chairman Ki that only she can get Chan-sung’s acquittal, and asks the chairman if he’s going to lose his son’s case over some silly suspicions.
Officer Oh chases Intern Bang through a rest area where Yoo-jin arrives serendipitously. As Officer Oh arrests Intern Bang, Yoo-jin steps in to figure out what’s happening.
Four hours ago, Officer Oh and Intern Bang both arrived at the automobile inspector’s apartment to learn that he fled the country. Yoo-jin’s private investigator and patient, as well as Officer Oh’s friend (yes, `tis a small world), called Officer Oh to tell him that the inspector committed suicide.
Now, Officer Oh has Intern Bang under custody to find “Hae-yi.” Yoo-jin recognizes him from Chan-sung’s trial, and when Intern Bang introduces him as Chairman Ki’s brother and Hae-yi’s boyfriend, Officer Oh looks peeved.
Hwa-sa gets dressed to meet Attorney Ma at the hotel where an order of sashimi is also brought up to the attorney’s room by the approval of Secretary Park. Attorney Ma sees right through Hwa-sa’s ploy to use sex appeal, which won’t work, so instead, she shows him the video of his sexual harassment that her ex-inmate friend helped procure.
He brushes the video aside, not worried about the “embarrassment” when his life is on the line, so Hwa-sa urges him to team up with her and reveal Chairman Ki’s true identity if he wants to live. To her surprise, Attorney Ma calls Yoo-jin to his room, and tells Hwa-sa to wait until he gets here before explaining everything. In the meantime, he offers her some pungent puffer fish roe.
January 4, 1985. Young Attorney Ma ate ten servings of ribs without any cash to pay for his meal, but a well-dressed Young-bae arrived to pay for it instead. He ordered Attorney Ma to become Hwa-sa’s public defender and get her the death penalty.
Back in the present, a much tipsier Hwa-sa can’t believe Young-bae ordered him to kill her and asks Attorney Ma if Chairman Ki also hurt her mother. With slurred speech, Attorney Ma explains that he did that since her mother found the 911 call recording, which revealed the chairman’s identity. Enraged, Hwa-sa sways back and forth as she reaches for the alcohol bottle and swings down to hit Attorney Ma.
Chairman Ki intercepts Yoo-jin before he meets Attorney Ma, and as the two of them look at the photo exhibition, Yoo-jin asks why he threatened Attorney Ma. Talking in circles, Chairman Ki comments on how some thought Yoo-jin should be the heir since their father favored him, but Yoo-jin says that he never held Chairman Ki responsible for their father’s death.
He always knew that Chairman Ki resented him after their father tried to make him the heir, which was why Chairman Ki had their father exiled to a deserted island when he was ill. Yoo-jin promised his brother to live his life as told, if he would place their father in a hospital. While he accepts the fact that their father reaped what he sowed, he doesn’t want Chairman Ki to harm anyone else because of him.
Officer Oh and Intern Bang arrive at the hotel of the photo exhibition, and while Officer Oh plans to wait for “Hae-yi” in the lobby, Intern Bang follows Mi-ran to the hotel room since everything is booked.
It’s past 4am by the time Yoo-jin wakes up and remembers to meet Attorney Ma. He rings his room doorbell to no answer, but his voice wakes Hwa-sa who finds herself next to a dead Attorney Ma. She recalls grabbing the bottle to hit him, but images of Attorney Ma falling down and hitting the corner of the table intertwine with last night’s event, suggesting that something else might have occurred.
Yoo-jin asks the hotel manager to let him inside since he’s Attorney Ma’s physician, but when the management refuses, Officer Oh suddenly appears, flashing his badge. That’s enough for them to enter, and they discover the dead body.
Yoo-jin futilely attempts to resuscitate him, and Officer Oh eventually pushes him away. While Officer Oh calls the police to report the death, Yoo-jin investigates the rest of the hotel room and notices the open door to the balcony. On the outside of the wall, Hwa-sa holds her breath as Yoo-jin inches closer.
Epilogue. Hwa-sa studies English and Mandarin while in prison to help her pass the days and forget she’s on death row.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
As scenes of the aftermath of Attorney Ma’s death play in quick succession, Hwa-sa narrates in voiceover that the Bible teaches us “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” During the past years through all the inmates she met, Hwa-sa has learned that at times justice is cold, inhumane, and cruel, yet life is governed by the rule of comeuppance to which no one is an exception.
Rewinding back to Attorney Ma’s death, Yoo-jin walks toward the balcony where Hwa-sa hides, and a piece of paper flies at his feet. The words “butterfly sleep” are scribbled on it in blood, and Yoo-jin pockets the evidence without showing Officer Oh.
To preserve the crime scene, Officer Oh kicks out Yoo-jin and investigates the hotel room. With no exits, Hwa-sa tries to escape by climbing down balcony before getting caught. Her feet barely touch the rails underneath, but when her grip slips, she luckily tumbles onto another balcony, barely avoiding a plummet to her death.
Unfortunately, Hwa-sa ends up out of the fire and into the frying pan since Chairman Ki and Secretary Park occupy the room directly below. Officer Oh hears her crash, and as he goes out to the balcony to inspect, Chairman Ki pulls Hwa-sa into the room, away from prying eyes.
Hae-yi calls Yoo-jin through Dr. So’s phone, and asks him to relay a message to Attorney Ma. He tells her that he’s dead, and returns to his room in a daze.
Police officers soon swarm the hotel, scouring the area for any evidence. Hwa-sa nervously watches the scene outside, hoping that they don’t notice her dropped shoes and towel. Chairman Ki tells Hwa-sa to turn herself in, but Hwa-sa argues that doing so would ruin her career—and right now, that’s more important than death to her.
Officer Oh remains at the crime scene, giving his input about the case, much to the chagrin of the officers in charge. His friend pulls him aside before he fights with a junior detective, but instead of leaving, Officer Oh makes his way to the room below.
He finds Chairman Ki and Secretary Park together in the room and informs them about Attorney Ma’s death. When he asks if they heard anything, they both claim that they didn’t, but Officer Oh finds it odd that Chairman Ki is in Secretary Park’s room this early in the morning.
Officer Oh asks to examine the balcony, but before he can get there, Hwa-sa suddenly appears in a slip and blazer. She explains that the three of them were meeting about Chan-sung’s case, managing to avoid suspicion for now.
After he leaves, Chairman Ki reminds Hwa-sa of her debt to him and warns her to win his son’s case or go to jail for murder. Despite Secretary Park’s concerns, Chairman Ki thinks that this turn of events is a win-win situation for him since he can always turn her over to the authorities.
Since the hotel recently opened, no security footage of the elevators or hallways exist, and Officer Oh only obtains the recordings of the outside. Meanwhile, Yoo-jin sits in front of Ki Se-woong’s portrait and wonders if Chairman Ki is responsible for Attorney Ma’s death.
He pulls out the piece of paper from Attorney Ma’s room, and though the message is unfinished, Yoo-jin guesses the last word might be “hospital.” He calls his private investigator, asking him to find a hospital named “butterfly sleep.”
Mi-ran wakes up after cuddling with Intern Bang, and finally reads the message from Hwa-sa. She texts Hwa-sa not to come to the room, but she’s already opening the door and limping inside. Mi-ran helps her into the bathroom and finally hears of Attorney Ma’s death. When she asks if Hwa-sa did it, Hwa-sa’s silence speaks louder than words.
The two of them go outside to gather the items Hwa-sa dropped, but Officer Oh picks up the bloody towel before them. They watch with bated breath as he holds the towel but sigh in relief when he throws it away.
Hwa-sa and Mi-ran burn the bloody items, and as Hwa-sa gets stitches on her finger, the police report finding toxins in Attorney Ma’s blood but the direct cause of death is ruled as excessive bleeding from trauma to the head. Officer Oh is convinced that these recent deaths are related to Chan-sung’s case, but his private investigator friend ignores his ramblings.
Lost in thought, Officer Oh sits in his car and looks at the bloody towel from the hotel. Flashing back, he retrieved the towel back from the trash after realizing there was blood on it.
Elsewhere, people gather for Attorney Ma’s funeral until Hwa-sa is the last one at his grave. She thinks to herself that she might have taken more from him than she should have, but if that’s the case, she plans on repaying him later.
Secretary Park calls Hwa-sa to Chairman Ki’s mansion, and Hwa-sa meets the chairman’s wife for the first time. She escorts Hwa-sa to Chairman Ki’s office where the others are already waiting to discuss the fate of the law firm.
Director Bong still finds the cause of death strange, but Chairman Ki tells him that Prosecutor Kim took care of everything. The conversation turns back to the law firm, and when the spotlight turns to Hwa-sa, she tries to dispel any reservations about her by pledging her loyalty to the chairman.
Hwa-sa visits Hae-yi, who’s sporting a new perm, and asks for her help with Chan-sung’s case. She promises to return her body after finishing her business, and Hae-yi agrees to work together on one condition.
The private investigator brings Yoo-jin a list of organizations containing the words “butterfly sleep,” but none of them are hospitals. Just in case, the private investigator included Central Hospital which used to be “Butterfly Sleep Obstetrics Hospital.”
They go to investigate the hospital, and Yoo-jin recognizes the building from his dream. The real estate agent lets them inside, and Yoo-jin retraces his step down the hallway to room nine. He sees the scene from his dream, and as he reaches out to read the name of the woman on the operating table, the private investigator disturbs his trance.
Shaken by his discovery, Yoo-jin barges into Hae-yi’s apartment and announces his plans to sleep over. He shares his concern that his mother might have passed, but Hwa-sa is more interested in any possible connections his mother might have to Chairman Ki or “Hwa-sa.”
He points out her lack of compassion towards his pain and tells her that he needs her. Yoo-jin suddenly proposes to Hwa-sa and explains how he originally planned an extravagant event for after Chan-sung’s case. He wants to hear her answer, but Hwa-sa rejects his proposal, saying that she would prefer a more special moment.
Mi-ran interrupts their conversation, citing work as an excuse for her presence, and Hwa-sa asks Yoo-jin to leave. Though he looks disappointed, Yoo-jin smiles at her before leaving but can’t bring himself to go home. Instead, he ends up at the deserted hospital and imagines his mother standing at the entrance holding a baby. He tells her that he misses her, and she smiles back at him.
Following Hae-yi’s exact orders, Hwa-sa acquires all her needs from food to documents and brings them to the prison. Whether by coincidence or on purpose, Hwa-sa makes the exact same comment that Hae-yi once said to her (“I would have brought more if I knew you’d like it so much”), and Hae-yi spits out the food, clearly taking her words as vindictive.
They go over the documents together, and Hwa-sa asks if Chan-sung killed those two people on purpose. Hae-yi reminds her that she’s an attorney, not a prosecutor, and describes the case to her from the beginning.
According to a witness report, on September 24, 2017, Chan-sung went out to buy food with his friend Park Eun-sung, who’s also Secretary Park’s son. Hae-yi explains that the two have been friends since childhood, though Eun-sung is more of a combination of butler, bodyguard, and friend.
Chan-sung drove down the slippery road, and from this point of view, his brakes seemed to malfunction as he yelled at Eun-sung for help before crashing into the pedestrians crossing the street. Afterwards, Hae-yi arrived on the scene, stepping in between Chan-sung and Officer Oh.
Hwa-sa asks Hae-yi if she fabricated the faulty brake hose story, but it’s now Hae-yi’s turn to ask questions: Why did she kill Attorney Ma, and why did she call Chairman Ki “Young-bae?” Hwa-sa avoids answering and suggests to Hae-yi to concentrate on Chan-sung’s case first.
Officer Oh gets reprimanded by his captain for meddling in another precinct’s case, but he ignores his captain’s grievances and asks if the results from the NFS came back. He quickly swipes the envelope from the desk and promises to do as told after throwing Chan-sung in jail.
Officer Oh continues prying into Attorney Ma’s death, and notices footage of “Hae-yi” entering the hotel with Chairman Ki but none of her leaving. He makes a call to his detective friend and asks about the fingerprints found at the scene.
Meanwhile, Chairman Ki also continues his investigation and watches the video clip of Attorney Ma’s and Hae-yi’s conversation in prison. Though Attorney Ma might be careless, Chairman Ki knows that he wasn’t completely rubbish. Secretary Park shows the chairman a profile of Mi-ran, and Chairman Ki asks to meet her.
According to the NFS report, components of nail polish, blood, and glass dust were found in Attorney Ma’s hotel room. In addition, forty-seven fingerprints at the crime scene belonged to “Hae-yi,” and all the piece start to click for Officer Oh.
He meets Hwa-sa for coffee that night, and she thanks him for his help from before. Officer Oh suddenly grabs her arm, and looking at her finger, he asks when she hurt it. He stares intently at Hwa-sa, and she holds his gaze, neither of them wavering.
Epilogue. A man enters Attorney Ma’s room and steals his pen recorder. He turns to face the camera, and it is Secretary Park.
Attorney Ma’s death wasn’t a huge surprise since he knew too much and botched his attempt at betrayal. There was no way Chairman Ki was going to let him live, but it’s still not clear who killed Attorney Ma and how. What makes the situation tricky is that Hwa-sa grabbed the bottle to strike Attorney Ma, which she also remembers. However, the show deliberately withheld the actual scene of contact, and all the audience hears is a thud, letting us fill in the blanks for ourselves. However, hints have been dropped, suggesting that Hwa-sa might not have actually killed Attorney Ma. In the scene where Hwa-sa tries to recall the events of the evening, we see her pick up the bottle, but the following scene was of Attorney Ma falling (from a standing position rather than the sitting position he was in when Hwa-sa supposedly hit him) and hitting his head on the corner of the table. It’s unclear whether this scene is part of Hwa-sa’s memories or if only the audience is privy to this detail.
In addition, the epilogue in episode six shows Secretary Park entering the room where it looks like Attorney Ma is already dead, which might mean he isn’t the killer. However, if the murderer is someone working for Chairman Ki, why didn’t that person take the recorder from the beginning? Furthermore, it’s strange that Attorney Ma died smiling, suggesting that his guard was down when he was murdered, but the scrap piece of paper with the message about the hospital was by the balcony, away from the room where Attorney Ma died. If the paper is Attorney Ma’s dying message (since he seemed to know something about Yoo-jin’s birth), how did it end up in another room, and why did he die smiling if he had time to write a dying message? It seems likely that the murder was premediated, but the possibility also exists that multiple attempts collided that night. Maybe the person who made Attorney Ma fall didn’t know about the poison, or maybe the person who tried to poison Attorney Ma was only trying to knock him out? Even more unlikely, but still a possibility, is that Attorney Ma’s death was an accident, and he fell by himself because he was too drunk (though the level of drunkenness also seems suspicious). I seriously doubt the last option is true, but that’s what the show excels at—it leaves room for different theories to exist.
Though Attorney Ma’s end was obvious, the recent turn of events came as a twist to me. Hwa-sa actually believes she killed Attorney Ma, and it can’t be completely ruled out that she didn’t play a part in his death. Regardless of whether or not she killed him, she believes she did, which gives Chairman Ki leverage to blackmail her. He knows her secret and can use it against her while Hwa-sa knows his secret but can’t use it against him. She’s forced to do his bidding and help Chan-sung rather than bring him down as part of her revenge. Not only are her preliminary plans ruined, but she might also lose a potential ally in Officer Oh. He’s a persistent detective who won’t even let his current position as a traffic cop stop his investigation, and once he thinks Hwa-sa is a murderer, that’s another enemy she needs to watch.
Slowly but surely, Hwa-sa finds herself boxed into a corner, and with no one else to turn to, she seeks Hae-yi’s help. While I do think the two need to team up, I’m now wondering if Hwa-sa might not have just willingly walked into the lion’s den. Unfortunately, Hwa-sa really has no other viable option and desperately needs Hae-yi’s expertise. As for Hae-yi, I understand why she would be so adamant against helping Hwa-sa in the beginning since her initial attempts at controlling the relationship ended up with her failure. However, she needs to understand by now that she needs to come up with a compromise with Hwa-sa because any harm she does to her results in direct damage to her body. Since her ultimate goal is to return to her original body, Hae-yi needs to make sure Hwa-sa doesn’t ruin her life first. Though I find both their careless actions frustrating at times, I think part of their brashness comes from ignorance because neither of them quite understands what they’re up against. Hae-yi remains in the dark about Chairman Ki’s identity and the deep corruption behind Hwa-sa’s case, and as Mi-ran mentioned, I think Hwa-sa still sees Chairman Ki as the young mechanic from her past in some ways rather than the ruthless and powerful man he is currently. Thus, both are underestimating the consequences of their actions, and consequently, danger looms in the horizon, ready to destroy both their lives.