When the Camellia Blooms: Episodes 31-32
Everyone spends some time trying to piece together the puzzle of that one fateful day. Life continues to move on, but there’s still a lot to uncover to find out the truth.
EPISODE 31: “Switching Offense and Defense (Feat. One Who Steps On the Accelerator)”
The divers at Ongsan Lake take a lunch break as Dong-baek narrates, “It doesn’t matter how deep the water is, you’re bound to get hungry.” Elsewhere, Jung-sook’s stepdaughter is on a call, yelling that she won’t let “the apartment” be auctioned away and that she’ll make sure she gets the money. Dong-baek continues, “When in dire need of money, you can’t keep your dignity.”
Dong-baek and Yong-shik are frazzled, keeping up with a high school soccer team celebrating at the Camellia. Even if the world ends tomorrow, Dong-baek still needs to sell her stir-fried pork. Yong-shik narrates, “The only way to heal the pain of yesterday is perhaps the pain I feel today.”
Jong-ryeol follows Pil-gu around in his car, pleading with him to get in. Pil-gu refuses until Jong-ryeol brings out a spinning top toy. Pil-gu calls him annoying, but immediately tests out his new toy at a park. He draws the line clearly – Jong-ryeol’s Jong-ryeol and a top’s a top. He isn’t gaining any points for this.
Jong-ryeol works up the courage to say, “Pil-gu, come live with dad now.” Pil-gu freezes in shock, staring at Jong-ryeol with wide eyes. Jong-ryeol cautiously asks for a chance to treat him well. Who knows? Perhaps he’ll start to like Jong-ryeol and even the girl who poops while lying down!
At this, Pil-gu wordlessly unpacks his bag, taking only his books and leaving Jong-ryeol’s gifts behind. Jong-ryeol follows after him and Pil-gu cries, “Why can’t I stay with her?!” He won’t trade his mom even for 100 toys, and it pains Jong-ryeol to watch Pil-gu sob that he now hates him the most in the world.
Yong-shik and Dong-baek close up for the day, and she happily comments that the big party today boosted her sales. When Yong-shik promises Dong-baek that he’ll find her mother soon, she asks him to relay a message: she won’t forgive Jung-sook.
Jung-sook abandoned Dong-baek, made her buy kimbap for school picnics, and raise Pil-gu all alone. Now she’s saying she’ll die alone? Yong-shik supportively takes her hand in his, and Dong-baek sighs that the insurance money isn’t enough as an apology. Jung-sook needs to come back quickly and live by her side to make up for everything.
That night, Pil-gu’s deep in thought in bed. Dong-baek packs his suitcase, noting that she’s losing it, but still keeping herself moving. She calls herself tough for being able to run her business despite everything that’s happening – life’s continuing like she’s on autopilot.
Pil-gu comes out of his room and Dong-baek assumes he’s too excited to sleep. She jokingly asks if Pil-gu will forget her if he likes China too much, and Pil-gu retorts, “Do you forget about me when you like Yong-shik so much?”
He sighs heavily that he has a headache, looking like a little adult as he rests his head on the table.
Yong-shik’s keeping watch outside of Dong-baek’s house again when he gets a text from her. She can’t meet him outside today because of Pil-gu, so he should head home since Deok-soon must be worried.
You don’t know until you become a mother, but a mom spends every night filled with worries. Deok-soon is refilling the fridge with health supplements that Yong-shik refuses to take. She doesn’t understand why he always makes her beg; he’s always the winner while she’s the loser.
Jung-sook’s unconscious at a hospital and the doctors are surprised she’s made it this far considering the state of her health. She must be very determined. Yong-shik voices-over, “Why does mom never sleep? Why can’t she even be ill?”
He continues, “She’s always worried and concerned” as Jessica’s mom looks at her daughter with worry. Jessica’s room is littered with take-out and beer. Her mom yells at her to get out of bed and elaborate on what she was saying about hitting someone.
Jessica feigns ignorance, but her mom knows that she got her car fixed and can’t understand why she won’t confide in her. With all the fight taken out of her, Jessica softly asks what she should do.
Jessica’s mom remembers calling her on the day they went to Ongsan together. Jessica was extremely agitated during that call, threatening to kill Hyang-mi as she stepped on the gas to follow her scooter. As she chased her down the road, all she was thinking of was Hyang-mi’s comment that Jessica needed to do her best to keep Hyang-mi’s mouth shut.
After the crash, Jessica was too shaken to even unlock her phone. She wasn’t able to get through to Jong-ryeol because he was busy dealing with the paparazzi situation.
Kyu-tae arrived at the scene to check on Hyang-mi and attempted to help her get up, unknowingly getting her blood on his hand.
When Jessica got out of her car, he’d drunkenly pestered her with questions. Freaked out, she drove away before Hyang-mi saw her and finally got through to Jong-ryeol to tell him she’d hit someone with his car.
Hyang-mi called Kyu-tae useless for being too drunk to jot down the license plate. She hadn’t gotten hit, but she fell over while trying to avoid the car so it’s practically a hit and run. Hyang-mi was determined to carry out the delivery despite her injuries, not wanting to cause Dong-baek any more trouble. She vowed to pay back what she owes, promising to start living differently.
As inebriated as Kyu-tae was, he still knew that Hyang-mi was being ridiculous and tried to stop her from going. The scooter started up just fine, inspiring Hyang-mi. If this piece of junk can get started again, why can’t she?
She’d teared up and announced that if she tried hard enough, she can do everything and start over. As she drove away, Kyu-tae commented, “People say you’ll die when you suddenly become mature. She might actually become a decent human.”
It only took Jong-ryeol 10 minutes to meet up with Jessica, which she bitterly notes that it meant he was already in Ongsan. She evenly told him that she came to kill Hyang-mi, who’d threatened to expose them.
Jessica warned, “I’m Jessica. I’m an attention seeker with no dignity but a ton of pride.” She’ll kill anyone who belittles her. It’s so out of character that Jong-ryeol wonders if she’s drunk.
She continued to wipe away her tears and told Jong-ryeol to continue looking for the body. She was worried, but now she’s positive she did the right thing. She drove away and broke down into sobs immediately, leaving behind a frustrated and confused Jong-ryeol.
It was raining heavily by the time Hyang-mi finally arrived at a shabby looking building. A person donned in all black, holding the Camellia’s menu, watched her from afar. We pan over to see that it was… Ja-young.
Back in the present, Pil-gu complains about his stomach hurting before leaving for the trip. He asks for reassurance that Dong-baek isn’t going anywhere while he’s gone, as if he’s worried that he’ll never see her again.
Sang-yeob loads the bus with suitcases while Yong-shik brings up many of Sang-yeob’s embarrassing moments. He uses them as leverage to ask Sang-yeob to keep an extra eye on Pil-gu. Sang-yeob scoffs that Pil-gu sure is lucky, since he has so many bodyguards.
Pil-gu interrupts the two, poking Yong-shik to get his attention. Yong-shik heard that Pil-gu’s back was hurting and jokes that it must be because his wings are sprouting. Pfft. Pil-gu ignores the comment and just wags a serious “come hither” finger at Yong-shik.
Chan-sook, who overheard Pil-gu and Dong-baek’s conversation, tells her that it’s separation anxiety. She shares that Jun-gi had the exact same symptoms after spending a month at his grandmother’s house, worried that he’d be sent away again.
Dong-baek isn’t sure why Pil-gu would develop separation anxiety, but takes this information in. She spots Pil-gu whispering into Yong-shik’s ear, who looks completely baffled at whatever request was made.
On the way home, Yong-shik suggests Dong-baek to hire a part-timer. Dong-baek is sure Hyang-mi will come back soon and has decided to close the bar today anyway, so Yong-shik shouldn’t worry. She’s coming down with something and is just going to sleep all day.
Yong-shik thinks to himself that lately, Dong-baek’s like a boxer that doesn’t fall even after taking some uppercuts. He grabs her hand, announcing that he’ll drop by tonight since Pil-gu’s not home. Dong-baek doesn’t believe him when he says he’s not making a move. “I’m not a piece of trash!”
He asks for her lock-code to drop off medicine and food while she’s resting, sighing and stomping off ahead when she tells him that it’s 2-5-8-0 (a straight line down the middle of the number pad.) “Who sets their code as 2-5-8-0? I’d better catch the Joker quickly,” Yong-shik yells in a huff.
In an office, Chief Byun clutches onto the laptop with the footage, wondering in awe how Yong-shik became acquainted with person they’re waiting for. Yong-shik reminds the chief that he once caught a robber while working as a taxi driver.
Turns out, the passenger he was carrying at the time is a criminology professor. They consult Professor Kim, who analyzes the footage and deduces that the Joker is between 170-175cm tall with a medium build and forward-tilting torso. Yong-shik nods, “Even I can see that,” earning glares from both the chief and the professor.
Professor Kim continues that the criminal didn’t look around the area even once – a sign that he knew where all the cameras were located. He’s walking oddly to avoid being caught and has a weapon that fits in his pocket. The professor notes that it’s likely the criminal’s ambidextrous since people tend to subconsciously favor the side they’re more familiar with.
When Professor Kim asks who this criminal is, Yong-shik awkwardly lies that it’s just a robber. However, the professor’s quick on the uptake. Yong-shik stutters, “You don’t know everything!” when Professor Kim muses that he’s from Ongsan and carries around a wire. “Yong-shik. Stay cool and don’t be a joke.” Hah.
Later, Chief Byun wonders if it’s okay to be investigating off-the-record when the case is getting more and more out of hand. Yong-shik refuses to bring the higher-ups into this – they’ll start looking into Jung-sook and dig into Dong-baek’s private life, which will ruin her.
Yong-shik lists everything he’s accomplished so far, asking if Chief Byun is seriously doubting that he can catch the Joker. The chief mutters that the fortune teller DID tell him to be careful of a nut-job… He believes Yong-shik can actually pull this off and gets fired up, grabbing his hand. He passionately announces, “I’ll bet the rest of my career on you. Have me promoted or get me fired. It’s all up to you now!”
Dong-baek stirs in her sleep at some beeping noises. It’s Yong-shik, setting a new pin on her lock-pad. He quietly slips into the house, making sure she’s warm enough. He prepares congee and gently wipes away her sweat.
He’s about to leave and checks up on her one last time, then timidly decides to lie down next to her. She rolls closer to him and he calls Dong-baek out for pretending to be asleep. He sweetly plants a kiss on her forehead and she smiles.
Yong-shik makes sure Dong-baek is eating properly. She muses that having someone to look after her is nice, but Yong-shik tells her not to be so touched yet. This is nothing. Dong-baek says it’s no wonder others are so mentally and physically strong, if they had people taking care of them.
Yong-shik says he has no idea how Dong-baek’s been living all this time, but from now on, she can live as immaturely as a spoiled rich daughter. This reminds her of the little rich girls in her life who had everything they’d wanted and were well put together.
They’d made her annoyed, but she envied them as much as she hated them. She cries that she also wanted to live a life filled with sunshine and happiness, which triggers Yong-shik’s tears too. He thinks, “I like her so much, and that’s why it hurts.” Dong-baek asks how she’s supposed to depend on him if he keeps crying too.
Yong-shik seems to have fallen asleep at the edge of Dong-baek’s bed, and she’s amazed that he’s made himself so comfortable in her home. He’s still awake, but tells her to stop talking to him. Being nervous is one thing, but getting sleep is another, and he claims he needs his sleep.
She wonders if he’s dated anyone other than Sang-yeob’s sister, to which he replies that he has an engine of a 4-wheel drive jeep and the manners of a sedan. He won’t make a move on someone who’s sick, but she shouldn’t make him out to be someone with no game.
He ultimately doesn’t get a wink of sleep and slips out in the morning. He’s all smiles until he notices a green lighter placed deliberately on his car. He angrily stomps on the lighter, deciding that it’s time to let him know that if he messes with Yong-shik, he’ll have to pay.
Dong-baek receives a call from someone who has found her scooter. As she leaves her house, she drops her sweater and it seems to make her uneasy. Dong-baek arrives at an abandoned mall and narrates that when you let your guard down, accidents occur.
We flash back to that night again. It started pouring hard and Hyang-mi paused – the entire world seemed to be trying to stop her from making the delivery. But she was determined to follow through and do Dong-baek proud.
Dong-baek wanders around the abandoned store. “We pay for not listening to the signs.” She notifies Yong-shik by text that she got called to pick up the scooter. She finds it in the middle of the parking garage with a post-it note stuck onto it. Somebody gets out of a van and approaches Dong-baek.
Yong-shik sneaks up on Jong-ryeol who’s taking pictures at the scene of the crash. He tells Jong-ryeol that Hyang-mi’s missing and his car was caught on camera, so he needs to follow him to the station as a witness. Jong-ryeol says if she’s missing, then she hasn’t been found dead yet.
In the cruiser, Yong-shik tries to bring something up but stutters as usual. Jong-ryeol jokingly asks if he’s about to give him a wedding invitation. Hah, Yong-shik goes silent which finally gets Jong-ryeol’s attention, and says he wouldn’t be getting an invite anyway. He vows he’ll treat Dong-baek way better than Jong-ryeol did. Jong-ryeol asks if he thinks that they ended up like this because he didn’t like Dong-baek enough. He liked her a lot – but even if you like someone a lot, it doesn’t mean things will work out.
You have to defeat all obstacles and get the timing right to get married, so Yong-shik needs to do a good job. Jong-ryeol notes that his specialty is getting a walk-off… when the defending team makes a mistake, he grabs the opportunity.
Yong-shik shows off that Dong-baek likes him sooo much that she texted him. However, his face falls as soon as he reads it. There’s no way someone could call her after finding the scooter, because she never left her number on it in the first place. Suddenly, every phone at the precinct rings and a siren goes off.
Breaking news – the body of a woman in her 30s was found in Ongsan Lake with a note written by a serial killer. We’ve come full circle to the cold open from the first episode. Yong-shik sees the familiar germanium bracelet and is devastated when he identifies the corpse.
We watch as each suspect finds out about the news. Jessica’s reading about it online, Jung-sook hears about it from the doctors (and asks them to help her live), Ja-young makes a call and drives somewhere quickly, and finally Kyu-tae, who finds out at home. He’s so shocked that he doesn’t even react to his mother’s nagging.
Kyu-tae receives a call and sounds downright terrified by what he hears. It’s just a call from someone who scratched his car, so he heads downstairs to take care of it. While a man makes friendly conversation with Kyu-tae in the elevator, he wonders if the red substance on his steering wheel was actually blood.
If it was, why isn’t that jerk Yong-shik coming to arrest him?? The moment he reaches the parking lot, two black vans screech to a stop and a dozen detectives, elevator man included, arrest Kyu-tae as the suspect of the murder. Kyu-tae’s so scared that he can barely breathe.
Just then, Ja-young arrives and berates the officers for taking Kyu-tae without a warrant. She’s definitely a force to be reckoned with; the police officers back off when she argues they have no right to arrest him without hard evidence. Kyu-tae hides behind her, holding onto her coat, and she confidently states that Kyu-tae can’t kill anyone.
Heung-shik informs his father that the body was found, but his only reaction is that the “noisy bitch” put batteries in his clocks. He asks why Heung-shik had to bring Hyang-mi home when he’d already brought home enough cats.
Unsurprisingly, he’d killed all of Heung-shik’s cats too. Heung-shik doesn’t sound like he can handle any of this anymore, bitterly thinking back to when Jung-sook confronted him about his “brutish eyes”. He hates that his eyes look exactly like dad’s.
The police gather around the entrance of the abandoned mall, searching everywhere for Dong-baek. We go back to when the figure approached Dong-baek and see that she’d run away and hopped into the elevator, making eye contact before the doors closed.
She shut off the power and called for help, scared and crying. She reads the post-it that the Joker left for her. “You should’ve come. She died because of you. Everyone close to you will die.” Dong-baek sobs as she recalls a specific moment with Hyang-mi.
Dong-baek had found a box filled with old things that Hyang-mi stole. She told her not to steal, and just wear them. Hyang-mi mused that in her next life, she wants to be reborn as Dong-baek’s daughter. She yells at Hyang-mi all the time which is annoying, but strangely makes her happy.
At any other restaurant, drinking beer for free would be theft. At the Camellia, Dong-baek doesn’t make her pay because she’s family. She told Hyang-mi not to get into trouble and stay by her side – so stop feeling lonely!
Hyang-mi picked up a pink cardigan that Dong-baek dropped onto the floor and put it on right away. It’s the one she wore on the day she died. Dong-baek cries in the elevator as she remembers how happy Hyang-mi looked to have been accepted as family. She turns the elevator power back on.
Outside, Yong-shik is relieved to see Dong-baek walking out on her own. Both are filled with emotions as Dong-baek asks if Hyang-mi died, just like Geum-ok, her aesthetician friend. Yong-shik reads the post-it and she asks where her mother is.
Dong-baek vows to kill the Joker, and Yong-shik notices that she’s finally stepped on the accelerator – she has switched from defense to offense. Dong-baek vows not to run anymore; she’s going to find the Joker and let him know who he’s messing with. Yong-shik learns that she saw his face.
We finally hear what Pil-gu asked Yong-shik before he left. He wanted Yong-shik to sleep at their place for the three nights that he’ll be gone, because Dong-baek can’t even catch a moth alone. Yong-shik just stares in shock.
So once again, we haven’t learned anything new about the Joker. As much as I appreciate watching the daily interactions between our residents of Ongsan, I feel like we are going in circles and not making any plot advancements. We know Hyang-mi wasn’t killed by any of our “suspects;” let’s move on! We dove a little deeper into what happened that fateful night, but the only surprising thing was Ja-young showing up where Hyang-mi made the delivery.
At this point, we know it’s Heung-shik’s dad. I’m really hoping we’ll actually get into the nitty gritty to find out what pushed him to become the Joker, and how he was never caught. We still have no idea how he chose his victims and why he’s so fixated on Dong-baek when she barely interacts with him. Also, why NOW? Why wait 5 years? There are so many interesting questions to be answered. I hope the show lays it all out for us soon and that our determined hero can get to the bottom of the case.
Pil-gu’s scenes are my favorite. You can see all his emotions in his eyes and on his face. He has so much love for his mom that his body physically aches when he thinks about having to leave her. Dong-baek may not have had a family growing up, but she is lucky to have such a thoughtful young son. I’m still holding out hope that Dong-baek, Yong-shik and Jong-ryeol can find a way to co-parent Pil-gu. He seems to enjoy Jong-ryeol’s presence, but is afraid that having Jong-ryeol means not having Dong-baek. 2D1M isn’t a shameful thing. Like Sang-yeob said, Pil-gu has a bunch of fierce protectors and that’s something to be proud of.
Now that Dong-baek has shifted to the “offense”, I’m excited to see if she’ll bring back the aura she had when she protected Yong-shik from Kyu-tae with her ledger. That Dong-baek was a force to be reckoned with, and it would be great to see her in action once again.
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