Catch the Ghost: Episode 3
Dads and debt is the theme of this episode as the men struggle with the traditional role as breadwinner and they try to support their families. For some, it’s easy to do the right thing, and for others, the world’s challenges make a no-win loan from a shark an appealing option. Even our rule-adhering inspector isn’t immune to it when times get tough, though his new partner is there for him, in her own chaotic way.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
When Ji-seok checks out of his mom’s hospital facility, he’s got to spread the facility fees out over a couple cards, and the nurse reminds him of even more bills that are due. There’s even more bad news when he gets a call from Man-jin, who reports a scheduled disciplinary hearing for Yoo Ryung. Man-jin advises Ji-seok to place the blame fully on Yoo Ryung, even though the gun belonged to Ji-seok.
At the hearing, Ji-seok presents evidence of Yoo Ryung’s bad behavior, adding to her excessive force charge the stolen scooter, the illegal sirens on it, and the vandalized bathroom door. But then he pivots, and uses these to demonstrate that her bad behavior allowed her to save lives. Ji-seok recalls that even the culprit assumed that the police couldn’t really use their firearms, and that punishing Yoo Ryung for using it effectively in this instance further dragged the police’s dignity.
The panel of officers are still ready to punish her, especially after Yoo Ryung states that she would likely fire a gun again, until Commissioner Kim requests to make a statement. She likens Yoo Ryung to herself when she was younger, praises her passion, and votes against punishment.
The panel thinks human rights groups will still want someone punished, and the panel turn to Ji-seok. After consideration, the commissioner recommends a pay cut, because Ji-seok should have been the one to shoot rather than turn it over to his rookie.
The team still meets up for a meal afterwards, even though there’s a bit less to celebrate now. Yoo Ryung asks when Ji-seok knew she would get in trouble and started taking photos, and he says he knew as soon as he met her, ha. When Yoo Ryung excuses herself for the bathroom, Man-jin leans in to ask what Ji-seok’s going to do about his mom’s caregiver bill with a pay cut, and Ji-seok doesn’t have an answer.
Ji-seok and Yoo Ryung retreat to the station for the night shift, and Yoo Ryung hangs up a curtain to split the bed platform. Ji-seok isn’t keen to share the same sleeping space, but eventually gives in and tucks in for the night. Once Ji-seok’s asleep, however, Yoo Ryung rises, her eyes on the tunnel keys in Ji-seok’s pocket. She leans in, her hand so close to his butt, but she drops her phone and wakes Ji-seok. Bleary-eyed and disoriented, Ji-seok suggests they make some ramyun.
The two discuss the classic chicken versus egg question, and then Yoo Ryung asks about Ji-seok’s taekwondo t-shirt. Ji-seok is eager to show off his skills, and follows a turn kick with a back flip. As his legs sweep through the air, the tunnel keys sail out of his pocket and land right in the pot of ramyun with a splash.
Yoo Ryung isn’t the only one admiring Ji-seok’s martial arts skills–the Subway Ghost watches the pair through the door and even takes photos of Yoo Ryung, thoughts drifting to the photo of Yoo-jin in the Ghost’s trophy collage.
The hall is empty though by the time Yoo Ryung manages to head to the bathroom to dump out the remaining ramyun. The lights begin to flicker overhead as she washes the keys, and eventually fail entirely, leaving Yoo Ryung in the pitch black. She hears a noise behind her, and screams as she’s confronted with… Ji-seok, who is here to let her know the lights are out. As they walk back, the Subway Ghost watches from afar, their thoughts of Yoo Ryung’s theory about the tunnel, shoulder twitching.
The next day, Ma-ri and Woo-hyuk gather all of the case files from the Subway Ghost investigation (there’s a lot). Yoo Ryung’s flier looking for her sister flutters out from a stack of documents, and Ma-ri recalls that Ji-seok never delivered the security footage. Rather than call, Ma-ri suggests they go pick it up themselves.
Meanwhile, Ji-seok returns Commissioner Kim’s wallet and reports the Grasshoppers’ method of slipping the wallets into the gap and retrieving them later from the tunnel. But when Ji-seok mentions chasing one in the tunnel himself, the commissioner balks and reminds him that the tunnel is off-limits. So Ji-seok walks back his statement and says instead that he followed procedure and got the station staff to help him after-hours.
Commissioner Kim’s minion, Officer Jeon, wants to run an article about the Subway Police’s quick detective work, but Ji-seok puts a stop to that when he delivers the news that one of the Grasshoppers was disguised in the Podori police character costume. The commissioner turns to Officer Jeon, who is the chief public relations officer, and asks whether he hired the Podori. He admits that he was surprised they were there and that his office didn’t hire them.
Ji-seok says that they’ll check into costume shops to try to track down the Grasshoppers, and Officer Jeon trails after him as he leaves. In the hallway, Officer Jeon reminds Ji-seok that he was the one who revealed a dead body to a gaggle of reporters, and promises that a worse punishment awaits him for it.
Cut to a guy with a gun, that gun jammed into a store clerk’s ribs as the armed man growls about the deal they’ve made. The thug… or is he? Because as we pull back, the armed man begins to laugh, and a display of toy guns to his left reveal that this is just a gag. He’s just here to deliver the replacement watercooler, and hoped to buy the toy gun for his son’s birthday.
As he leaves, a slick, tattooed man flashing a gold watch trips Watercooler Dad. Gold Watch Thug warns Watercooler Dad against being late again, and Watercooler Dad grovels long enough to get to his feet, and then “accidentally” drops the water jug on the thug’s feet before scurrying away.
Watercooler Dad, Choi Do-chul, gloats with his shop clerk friends when he meets up with them later, and Ji-seok turns up to the same food stand for lunch. The clerks hint that maybe Do-chul should tell the police about the Gold Watch shop, but Dad doesn’t have the courage.
Yoo Ryung finds Ji-seok at the food stand and takes the first bite of his kimbap. Ji-seok tells her that he had to fabricate his story about the Grasshoppers because of the tunnel detail. Speaking of, Ji-seok reaches for the tunnel door keys to return them and discovers they’re gone. Yoo Ryung’s face twists as she pretends to be surprised, and she offers to search for the keys back at the station. As they turn to leave, Ma-ri and Woo-hyuk arrive for the security footage.
Ma-ri and Yoo Ryung lock eyes, though Yoo Ryung pretends to not know Ma-ri. Ji-seok slips up and mentions the tunnel to the two Metro Police officers, and then again when he reveals that he’s lost the door key. Ji-seok stalks off to retrieve the footage, and Ma-ri and Yoo Ryung get a moment alone.
Ma-ri asks why Yoo Ryung is pretending not to know her, her reasons for joining the police, and whether Yoo Ryung is the reason the tunnel key is missing. Yoo Ryung’s response is a low growl of “Mind your own business,” and she leaves the lieutenant behind.
Woo-hyuk offers to get the footage and then chases after Yoo Ryung. She admits to him that she did steal the key, but Woo-hyuk’s response is an offer to join the Metro Police Department and catch the Subway Ghost together.
From afar, Ji-seok watches these two talk, though he can’t hear a word. He catches up with Woo-hyuk after Yoo Ryung leaves to turn over the footage and asks how they know one another. Woo-hyuk shrugs in response and mentions the job offer he extended to her. Ji-seok asks about Yoo Ryung’s response, and Woo-hyuk says he’s certain she’ll accept it. Ji-seok mutters to himself that Yoo Ryung is probably better off in a job with Metro Police, though his tone suggests he doesn’t mean it.
Meanwhile, Yoo Ryung rushes to retrieve tunnel blueprints and use the tunnel key before Ma-ri reports her to someone. She walks the tracks, as someone in the winding tunnels, the Subway Ghost adds photos of Yoo Ryung to their (literal) murder board.
It’s another day on the beat for Man-jin and Soo-ho, as they spot a man selling illegal cd compilations on a train. Soo-ho’s ready to bust him, but Man-jin holds his maknae back when he spots the man’s scuffed shoes. Man-jin says they shouldn’t make a father’s life even harder, and they leave CD Dad alone.
Ji-seok and Yoo Ryung also start their rounds. Yoo Ryung asks how Ji-seok knows Ma-ri, and he says that they went to university together. Ji-seok misunderstands her interest and retorts that he won’t put in a good word for Yoo Ryung, ha. They board a train and scoop up a pile of business cards a young guy leaves a trail of tucked into the train sign boards. Just then, a scuffle ensues as Do-chul lunges at other passengers, demanding his money.
Ji-seok restrains the guy, but it’s not until Do-chul hears the soothing refrain Ahn Chi-hwan’s If I Were from CD Dad’s speakers that he’s finally subdued. They take Do-chul back to the station, where they learn that the song reminded him of his son, and Dad shows them a video of him playing with his son while the song plays.
After cooing at the video for a while, the police promise to return the lost money to Do-chul as soon as they find it, and they turn to their security footage. Do-chul, meanwhile, avoids a call from an ominous “Goodbye Cash” number, and catches up on his text messages, including ones from his wife reminding him that today is his son’s birthday. Dad looks up and spots his son Ji-hwan returning from school, and Gold Watch Thug standing in his path. Uh oh.
Dad does his best to reassure his son and drag the thug away without incident. He cryptically tries to communicate that he doesn’t have money right now to pay him “for the gold watch,” but swears he’ll have the money soon. Oh man. Sounds like Dad’s made a bad deal.
At the station, the crew find the footage of Do-chul dropping his bag, and then CD Dad shows up and picks it up. Man-jin and Soo-ho are mad at themselves for not busting him earlier, while Yoo Ryung snarls about what a terrible guy the man is.
With perfect timing, CD Dad shows up just then, son in tow, to return the money he found. He says that while he’s ashamed of what he does for a living, he doesn’t do shameful things. Yoo Ryung immediately takes back her comment, while the man’s son is eager to brag about how many songs his dad knows. Man-jin and Soo-ho rush over to apologize and offer CD Dad refreshments. Yoo Ryung attempts to contact Do-chul to return his money, but his phone is turned off. Uh oh.
It’s turned off because he’s receiving a beating from Gold Watch Thug. The thug says that Dad was the one who came to him because his son was sick, while Dad says that he was fired from his job because the thugs were lurking around him all the time. The loan shark boss arrives to halt the beating, though he tells Gold Watch to “take care” of their customer, as well as their customer who runs the Walnut Cake Shop. This translates to Gold Watch threatening to go after Dad’s wife and son. Dad begs him to leave them alone, and Gold Watch offers to write off all his debt if he does a job for him.
Ji-seok is dressed as his dad and on his way up to see his mom. Mom, however, doesn’t want to submit to a test and instead accuses her nurse of having a crush on her boyfriend. The dispute escalates and Mom throws water in the nurse’s face. It’s embarrassing, but it also fries the machine used for her test.
Ji-seok arrives to find he now owes $10,000 to replace the equipment. He can’t take a moment yet to process the news however, since his mother is all smiles as she admires the flowers he brought. After his visit, however, he makes calls to see if he can get a new loan, but he’s already used all his collateral, and his payments on his current loans are already due. Ji-seok looks to the business cards he took from the subway, advertising interest-free loans if repaid within seven days. He crumples the cards in his fist, as day passes to night and Ji-seok doesn’t budge from his park bench.
Once at work, Ji-seok and the gang busy themselves assembling a list of costume shops. Yoo Ryung reports that Do-chul’s phone has been turned off since yesterday, and Ji-seok recommends she do a background check and pull his home number. When Yoo Ryung does, the man’s wife reports him missing.
Do-chul’s wife arrives at the station with her son to seek help for her missing husband. She says that other police have said that it’s likely he ran away and won’t investigate. She also reports that their son mentioned a strange man with her husband at his school. Their son chimes in that his dad was supposed to play police with him, and he always keeps his promises.
Yoo Ryung thinks of all the times she was turned away during her sister’s investigation and begins to speak up. But Ji-seok cuts her off and says that until they have any evidence, they can’t investigate the situation as a crime. Yoo Ryung can’t take it as the woman breaks into anguished sobs, and chimes in that she will look into his disappearance. The woman is grateful as she leaves, but Ji-seok is not happy at all.
Ji-seok reminds her that if they go through his call records, it could be a violation of privacy if there has been no crime and the police could be sued. Yoo Ryung wants to believe the woman’s instincts, but the guys tell her that everyone has secrets. Ji-seok orders Yoo Ryung to cover the trains, while the rest of them look into the costume shops.
Ji-seok has no luck with the costume shops though, and things get worse when he gets a call from the nursing home with a bill for the damaged equipment. The nurse reminds Ji-seok that he’s behind on other bills due to them and they’re being told to vacate his mother’s bed. Ji-seok is running out of options, but there’s still the Goodbye Cash business card…
At the station, Yoo Ryung ignores orders and pulls a list of calls to Do-chul’s phone. There’s a number that keeps turning up, but to trace it, she needs Ji-seok’s written approval. But then she takes a look at the business cards scattered on her desk, and notes that the number for Goodbye Cash matches the number in the phone records.
She’s on her way to the loan shark office, but Ji-seok beats her there. He tells himself he’s there to investigate, but his hands tremble as he fills out the loan application for the amount of the broken medical equipment. Gold Watch barges in to ask about problems with the Walnut Cake Shop, but he’s shooed away by the boss.
Ji-seok notes that the stack of money he’s presented is only $6000, not the full amount. The boss explains that they take a percentage to cover their risk since they offer cash, but loan applicants are still required to pay the full amount back in seven days to avoid interest (so, clearly a scam). Ji-seok’s already backing off, but he scrambles when he hears Yoo Ryung pull up.
Ji-seok attempts to hide in a locker, the locked safe, and behind the loan shark’s coat before he finally commits to crouching behind the couch that Yoo Ryung immediately sits on when she arrives, haha. While Yoo Ryung is busy interrogating the boss, Ji-seok slips into a closet, but Yoo Ryung’s eyes follow the boss’s glances, first to the closet, but then to the door at the back.
Yoo Ryung finds Do-chul beaten and bloodied, and she tries to help him up. But Do-chul turns on her and locks her in the closet with Ji-seok, who immediately cowers to hide his face. Yoo Ryung tries to comfort him, thinking he’s yet another victim of the sharks, but eventually she faces Ji-seok, and finds his crumpled up loan application as well. Yoo Ryung asks if something happened, and Ji-seok lies that he just wanted a car because he was tired of riding the subway.
Yoo Ryung calls him selfish, and Ji-seok quickly turns to point out that her own selfish actions have resulted in a pay cut for him and potentially even more disciplinary action in the future. He says that it’s probably best that they’re parting ways.
Do-chul runs after Gold Watch, who “accidentally” bumps into Dad’s wife. Dad watches around the corner, and then pulls the toy gun from his pocket.
Back in the closet, Ji-seok continues to go on about how Yoo Ryung gets a rush out of major crimes. Yoo Ryung starts to tell him her real reasons behind joining the Subway Police, but they’re interrupted when the loan sharks’ advertising guy turns up for more fliers.
He only hesitates a moment in front of the closet barred with a golf club before he opens it, and Ji-seok is ready to throw him to the ground with a kick.
While Ji-seok cuffs the flier guy, Yoo Ryung goes to the desk for evidence. She gasps as she holds up a will written by Do-chul.
Clearly the loan sharks have asked Do-chul to take care of the problems with the Walnut Cake Shop, but I can only assume that Do-chul thinks he’ll be caught if he left a will behind. If he’s lucky, it will be the Subway Police who catch him, and Yoo Ryung can show that she’s just as capable of restraint as she is of acting boldly.
So many types of dads turned up in this episode. Even Ji-seok is a dad here–his own. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to wear his father’s clothing and take on that persona for his mom, someone who took care of him when he was young. He does so without complaint and doesn’t even let any hurt register on his face, but it’s got to sting to no longer be really seen by his mother. I also wonder if Ji-seok is just naturally like his dad, so while the make-believe may come easy, it doesn’t make it less agonizing for him.
CD Dad and Do-chul serve as examples of one path or another, light or darkness. Ji-seok, meanwhile, shows the gray path. He’s someone who we know is good. He takes care of his mother, he’s responsible, and he takes care of his coworkers. But circumstances can draw even the most earnest astray, and we see him struggle with it as he almost gives in to the lure of what he knows is a bad loan.
And would he even be in this situation if it weren’t for Yoo Ryung and her rash choices? Ji-seok’s situation is exactly what he means by others getting hurt by other’s disregard for rules. The thing is, I’m almost always on Ji-seok’s side of an argument. He isn’t just following the rules, he’s doing things the right way because there are human rights violations at risk. People have been hurt before when police did whatever it takes to get the bad guy. These rules are there to protect citizens.
Of course, for the purposes of our drama, Yoo Ryung has been right every time she skirts policy, and it’s been worth disregarding the rules. But it’s gotta go wrong at some point, right? Even now, Ji-seok lost income that he needs to take care of his mom. Yoo Ryung demands that he think of the families who could be hurt by police indifference, but she asks Ji-seok to do so over taking care of his own family who depends on him. Yoo Ryung doesn’t know the specifics of his situation, but she shouldn’t have to know to respect his boundaries.
Yoo Ryung’s lack of family of her own sets her up for this disregard. She easily empathizes with families who feel ignored by the police, but she has a hard time seeing the other side. She’s police herself now, but she hasn’t experienced the other side of things yet to truly understand the hard choices her colleagues have faced all along. Her lack of experience and anchorless home life contribute to her reckless nature, because she doesn’t have anything left to lose.
I have questions about the CCTV though. Do they not run them at night? Because Subway Ghost was definitely prowling the halls of the station at night when no one else should be there. Perhaps they only review footage when they need to find something, and there aren’t so many reports in the middle of the night. But once someone does check that footage, they’ve got to have tons of evidence of our hooded ghost, right? Until then, I will be watching everyone’s shoulders for a hint of twitch.
I also worry now that the previous tunnel incident is somehow related to Ji-seok or his team members. I assumed at first that it must have been an old accident, but the way the commissioner talked about it sounded more recent. There could be a very personal reason that Ji-seok wants to avoid the tunnel, or perhaps a reason more closely related to the case than we’ve suspected.
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