The Game: Towards Zero: Episodes 3-4
The show cranks up the tension with a mystery and a possible copycat killer — along with a prediction of unavoidable death. Our stubborn detective is surprisingly accepting of the possibility that our hero has a supernatural ability, but she’s not willing to accept his foretellings as unavoidable fact. She’s determined to alter fate, and if he won’t believe it’s possible, then she’ll just have to prove it to him.
Detective Joon-young finds rookie reporter Ye-ji camped out in a dark corner of the police station, hoping for a story. Joon-young tells Ye-ji to go home since there’s nothing happening today, though she understands that’s not good news to a reporter.
Meanwhile, distraught mother Ji-won meets up with Tae-pyung where he found her daughter’s phone, and he tells her that Mi-jin also bought the smashed cake that’s lying nearby. Suddenly suspicious, Ji-won asks how he knows that, but Tae-pyung doesn’t want to admit that he saw Mi-jin at the bakery and saw her abduction and death in her eyes.
She thinks he helped kidnap Mi-jin and that’s why he knows about the cake and has her phone, so she grabs his clothes and demands answers. Eventually she calms down a bit and Tae-pyung takes her to the nearest police station, where she shakes and stammers as she tries to tell the cops what’s happening.
Tae-pyung helps as he can, while the unfairness of the situation strikes him. He sees the baby-faced cop dying of old age in bed beside his wife, and even the drunk who’s brought in will die a peaceful death, like most people — yet this young girl is doomed to die violently. He asks himself if murder happens because of the deity’s negligence, or human arrogance, and where he falls in all that.
Ye-ji overhears Joon-young when she tells her team that they’ve gotten a call about a possible abduction (Joon-young: “Are you happy now??”). She calls her colleague Han-gyu and tells him, so he advises her to stay and get some evidence. He goes back to work with his boss, Joon-hee, who’s ignoring his wife’s calls and has no idea that it’s his own daughter who’s been kidnapped.
Tae-pyung tags along as Ji-won leads Joon-young to the cafe where Mi-jin bought the birthday cake. He waits outside while Joon-young watches the surveillance tape and sees him, sitting at the window staring at the girl then following her when she left. Yeah… that doesn’t look great.
They move to the kidnapping location, which has no CCTV cameras. Joon-young sends Ji-won home to wait for their call, then she checks Tae-pyung’s chest and snaps that he’s not wearing a bulletproof vest. She asks if he followed Mi-jin because he foresaw her death, and when he lies again, she sighs that his sloppy lies are the reason people assume the worst about him.
She demands the truth, reminding Tae-pyung that if he really did see Mi-jin’s death, she’s in grave danger right now, and he finally caves. He tells Joon-young that Mi-jin is buried alive in an abandoned factory and will die at midnight, which he knows because he sees it on the phone they find in the coffin with her.
He says that Joon-young will find Mi-jin and perform CPR, but that it will be too late and Mi-jin will die. Tae-pyung heads for home, leaving Joon-young reeling, having recognized Midnight Killer Jo Pil-doo’s method of killing his victims from twenty years ago.
Trapped underground, Mi-jin finally hears the phone that’s ringing beside her. She answers, and it’s the phone’s owner. She tells him that she’s in a coffin and begs him for help, but he thinks she’s playing a prank and hangs up on her. Mi-jin figures out how to call emergency services, and she tells them she’s been kidnapped, but is almost immediately disconnected.
Tae-pyung explains to Yeon-hwa and Teacher Baek that he told Joon-young the truth not because he thinks Mi-jin can be saved, but because the information he provided may allow her to talk to her parents one last time. Yeon-hwa is worried that Joon-young will get the wrong idea about Tae-pyung, but Teacher Baek admonishes her to stop nagging.
Team Leader Han isn’t keen on conducting an investigation based on the statement of a guy who claims to foresee people’s deaths, but Joon-young says that if Tae-pyung told the truth, Mi-jin probably used the phone in the coffin to call for help. They check with emergency services to see if they’ve gotten any calls.
Too young to remember the Midnight Killer, Ye-ji looks him up online. The first thing she sees is an article about Joon-young’s father’s death during Jo Pil-doo’s arrest, and a photo of a man who appears to have fallen from a great height.
Bong-soo confirms that emergency services haven’t gotten any calls regarding abductions (because Mi-jin’s call was disconnected). But then they hear on the police radio that Mi-jin called back, so Joon-young rushes to help.
Mi-jin is still on the phone when Joon-young arrives at the emergency department. Mi-jin tells the cops that she was grabbed by someone and that she woke up in a coffin. She starts to give in to panic, but calms down when Joon-young calls her by name and promises to find her before the phone she’s using runs out of battery.
Mi-jin asks them to call her mother and gives them her parents’ names, which Joon-young writes down. Unfortunately, the police aren’t able to track the phone without the number (ah, so that’s why the killer gives her a stolen phone), and Mi-jin can’t get through the security code to tell them the number.
In the newsroom, having heard from Ye-ji that this might be a copycat killer, Joon-hee demands all the records on Jo Pil-doo brought to him. He calls Ye-ji hoping for the victim’s identity, but all she knows is that it’s a teenage girl, and that some guy who sees death told the police that she’s locked in a coffin.
Worried after hearing Joon-hee’s name, Joon-young checks the evidence file and Mi-jin’s cell phone. The evidence confirms that Mi-jin’s father is Lee Joon-hee, the same reporter who stalked Joon-young after her father’s death twenty years ago.
Joon-young tells Team Leader Han that with Lee Joon-hee’s daughter involved, this might be more than a simple copycat crime. She wants to bring in Mi-jin’s mother to talk to Mi-jin, since doing so will keep the girl calm and buy them a few minutes, when every minute counts. Team Leader Han is worried that Ji-won might hear her daughter die, and/or that Joon-hee will blame Joon-young for everything, but Joon-young says she’s willing to take responsibility.
Joon-hee is avoiding Ji-won’s calls to focus on reporting the kidnapping, so he still doesn’t know that the kidnapping victim is his own child. Joon-young calls Ji-won to invite her to come talk to Mi-jin, so Ji-won hurries to the station.
The police chief finally arrives at the station, and he notes that with all the CCTV cameras installed in the last twenty years, it should be harder for the culprit to get away than it used to be. Joon-young says that he hasn’t had enough time to leave Seoul.
Bong-soo is skeptical that the kidnapper already had time to bury Mi-jin, but Joon-young says that if he hid her in an abandoned factory (like Jo Pil-doo did for three of his victims), then it’s possible because there’s no security or surveillance. Chief Nam assigns Bong-soo to compile a list of possible locations, and tells Joon-young to contact all police squads for backup.
Ye-ji sees Ji-won arrive at the station and takes some pictures of her walking with Joon-young. Bong-soo catches Ye-ji again, and this time he shoves her out the door and locks it, just as Han-gyu joins her. She shows him her photos even though none of them show Ji-won’s face, but Han-gyu tells her to send them in anyway just as an avalanche of reporters from other publications descends on the station.
On the way to the control room, Joon-young tells Ji-won that Mi-jin is calling them from where she’s been buried alive. Ji-won collapses, but Joon-young urges her to stay strong for her daughter. Ji-won starts to cry when she hears Mi-jin’s voice, asking them to apologize to her mother for dying on her birthday (oof), but she controls herself and tells Mi-jin that she’s there.
Bong-soo has found over twenty abandoned warehouses in the Seoul area, way too many to check in the short time they have left until midnight. He complains that Tae-pyung should have given clearer hints, which gives Joon-young an idea. While Chief Nam sends everyone out looking for the truck that was at the scene of the abduction, Joon-young goes to talk to Tae-pyung again.
At the medical examiner’s office, “Four Weeks” Do-kyung works on gangster Oh Sung-min’s body while he listens to the news reports regarding the abduction. Detective JI SOO-HYUN (Lee Bom) observes, and when Do-kyung asks how she knew Sung-min died of a heart attack, she mutters that Tae-pyung must really have special powers. Do-kyung says that he hopes Joon-young finds the missing girl, joking darkly that if she dies, he’ll have to do another autopsy.
Joon-young is still determined to save Mi-jin’s life despite Tae-pyung’s prediction, sure that arriving even one minute sooner will make a difference. Tae-pyung says wearily that his visions are never wrong, but Joon-young argues that even he followed Mi-jin to warn her when he foresaw her death, which means that some part of him must think it’s possible.
Joon-young asks Tae-pyung to look at Mi-jin’s picture and tell her anything he sees at the location where she’ll be found, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save her. He reluctantly agrees, and first he sees Team Leader Han taking the stolen phone from Mi-jin’s hand, which displays that it’s midnight as Mi-jin dies.
But he looks around inside his vision, and sees a lot of details he’d otherwise missed. There’s a sign that says “Can Manufacturing Unit – 8,” and at exactly midnight, a train blows its whistle nearby.
Elsewhere, Kang-jae finds the truck that they suspect was used in the kidnapping, confirmed by the presence of cake icing on the wheels. Inside the truck he sees a shovel, but when he confronts the owner of the truck, the man yelps that he didn’t kidnap anyone. But he is the owner of the cell phone that was left with Mi-jin, which allows the police to track it to its location.
Joon-young and Tae-pyung use a map of the local train routes to narrow down the most likely warehouse where Mi-jin might be buried. On the way there, they hear on the police scanner that the location is confirmed. From the station, Ji-won tells Mi-jin that the police know where she is and are on their way, but Mi-jin runs out of air and falls unconscious. Ji-won runs out of the station and catches a taxi, with Ye-ji hot on her heels.
While this is all going down, Yeon-hwa and Teacher Baek worry that the police will keep asking Tae-pyung for help after this. Yeon-hwa wonders why Tae-pyung can’t see Joon-young’s death, and she suspects that Teacher Baek knows the answer, but he remains stubbornly tight-lipped.
Joon-young and Tae-pyung arrive at the warehouse first, and Joon-young starts looking for a spot in the floor where Mi-jin might be buried while Tae-pyung searches for the clues in his vision. Just as the rest of the cops arrive, Joon-young finds one of Mi-jin’s shoes and a footprint nearby from what must be the kidnapper’s shoe.
Tae-pyung locates the sign from his vision, and just below it is a spot where the ground has been disturbed. The cops dig up the box with Mi-jin inside, and Joon-young starts CPR, just as Tae-pyung foresaw.
Back at the police station, Chief Nam sees Joon-young’s note with Mi-jin’s parents’ names, and he confirms with the evidence that it’s the same Lee Joon-hee who covered the Midnight Killer case. He calls Joon-hee, who remembers him from twenty years ago, and gently breaks the news that the girl who was abducted is Joon-hee’s daughter.
Joon-hee finally checks his messages from Ji-won and sees that it’s true, so he races out of the building in a panic. Outside, hears his wife scream their daughter’s name, and he looks up in shock. On the news screen outside the building, on live feed, Ji-won has reached the scene and is wailing desperately as Ji-won tries to revive Mi-jin’s body.
With Tae-pyung watching, everything plays out exactly as he saw in Mi-jin’s eyes — Joon-young’s efforts are unsuccessful, and Team Leader Han takes the phone from Mi-jin’s unresponsive hand at exactly midnight. The train whistle blows, and the paramedics arrive and pull Joon-young away from Mi-jin’s body. Ji-won collapses as she begins to process that her daughter is gone.
But then… Mi-jin takes a breath. Nobody is more surprised than Tae-pyung, as he watches Ji-won limp to her daughter and reassures her that everything will be okay. Tae-pyung thinks to himself, “It’s a miracle. Until that day, I thought fate couldn’t be changed. For the first time, my prediction changed.”
Joon-young notices him watching her and she flashes a huge triumphant grin at him. He just stares back as he thinks, “For the first time, I met someone whose death I couldn’t see. And for the first time, my heart raced because of someone.”
Well, I was pretty well hooked after the first hour, but now? Consider me a hundred percent invested. Not gonna lie, I burst into tears when Mi-jin took that breath — I hadn’t realized I was holding my own breath along with her. I’m fascinated by the fact that Tae-pyung’s prediction happened exactly how he saw it, and Mi-jin did technically die, but she was able to be saved anyway. So does this mean that his predictions have always been flexible, or is Joon-young’s involvement the reason? And why can’t he see her death (my baby theory is that he’s involved in her death somehow)?
I’m very curious about Do-kyung, who seemed oddly interested in the kidnapping case. Of course my drama-watching instincts are saying that maybe he’s the copycat, but I’ll admit that a lot of that is because Im Joo-hwan likes to choose roles that start as one kind of character and end up with a shocking twist. So right now, I can’t tell if my instincts are correct or if it’s just because of the actor, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
This episode got me crying again, especially when Ji-won and Mi-jin got to talk to each other on the phone. I don’t cry easily, so the fact that The Game has wrung tears from me twice now is pretty unusual. I’m not surprised at the great writing (this is the same writer who wrote King of Dramas), and the casting/acting so far, as I mentioned, is just superb. I’m going to have to start keeping tissues nearby while I’m watching!
One thing I really like is how Tae-pyung isn’t hiding his ability from Joon-young anymore, and how she completely trusts him, enough to bet a little girls’s life on the fact that he’s telling the truth. They both have people around them yet still seem very alone, Joon-young because her only apparent family died a long time ago (I don’t know what happened to her mother… was she possibly the woman in the photo she took to Tae-pyung?), but we don’t know Tae-pyung’s situation yet.
It’s kind of interesting the way Tae-pyung is affected by Joon-young in some way already, and how, even though he initially didn’t believe Mi-jin could be saved, he let himself get emotionally invested in the search just because Joon-young was so insistent. I also like the contrast between the fact that Tae-pyung and Joon-young have no family, while Joon-hee has a family but takes them for granted, and prioritizes work to the point that he covered an entire story without knowing that his own daughter was the victim. I love family-centric plots, and it looks like the killer isn’t quite done with Joon-hee’s family, so I’m going to be glued to my screen each week. If this show can get me this emotionally wound up in less than two hours, then I’m super excited to see what’s next.
- Premiere Watch: The Game: Towards Zero
- Changing premonitions and serial murder cases in The Game: Towards Zero
- Taecyeon sees no death for Lee Yeon-hee in first teaser for The Game: Towards Zero
- First look at Taecyeon in The Game: Towards Zero
- Taecyeon, Lee Yeon-hee sign onto supernatural-thriller crime drama