You’re All Surrounded: Episode 9
It’s nice to get an episode like this one where the case of the day takes a backseat to our main characters and their personal drama, especially since we only get one installment this week. This drama doesn’t always land on the better half of that balance since I’m not in it for the cop procedural, but when our characters get to confront each other about the big overarching concerns—secret identities and secret crushes—the results are sweetly satisfying.
SONG OF THE DAY
Taeyeon – “사랑 그 한마디” (Love, That One Word) for the You’re All Surrounded OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 9: “Special secret”
Dae-gu comes out of the medical examiner’s office after confirming that the man who threatened his mother was found dead… and runs right into Pan-seok who’s arrived minutes after him to do the very same thing.
Pan-seok immediately makes the connection: “You were alive, Kim Ji-yong. You’re Kim Ji-yong, aren’t you?” Dae-gu freezes, and if his presence here wasn’t a giveaway, that flicker in his eyes should be.
But he takes a second to recover and asks who that is. Pan-seok isn’t buying the denial at first, but Dae-gu accuses him of going to the orphanage to do a background check on him, and challenges Pan-seok to just ask if he’s curious about anything.
Pan-seok asks what he’s doing here then, and Dae-gu spots Gook out of the corner of his eye just in time. He pretends to be here for the autopsy report on their case, and Pan-seok’s face falls. Aw, fakeout, really?
He lets it go for now, probably because he’s been known to obsess over Mom’s case and has been wrong before. When Pan-seok heads in to go identify the body, he asks if Eun Dae-gu was here before him, and the examiner says no.
Out in the hallway, Dae-gu’s mind races, and he assures himself that he watched the medical examiners change shifts before he walked out, and can’t be identified. Tae-il joins them, and they ask Dae-gu what he’s doing here. Damn, so running into Gook was pure luck? Talk about skating on thin ice. Dae-gu says he just wanted to see them, and they stand there blinking at him. Gook smiles and says he didn’t know Dae-gu was capable of saying such warm and fuzzy things.
The first thing Gook does when he wakes up the next morning is call Soo-sun to see where she slept last night in the rain. He sees on the video call that she isn’t in her tent, and she groggily remembers that she slept at Pan-seok’s place. She jolts up and lies that she’s at a friend’s house.
The air is still cold between Tae-il and Gook, and this time it’s Tae-il who does the ignoring as they cross paths in the kitchen. Will you two just make up already?
Soo-sun takes a minute to marvel at Pan-seok’s desk littered with candy wrappers, and picks up the adorable picture of his son. She carefully puts it back and scurries out.
Dae-gu waits in a café that morning, and Chief Kang arrives to meet him in person. In a flashback we see that she was a mystery benefactor who sent Dae-gu books and gifts at the orphanage throughout his adolescence, and sponsored his education.
He writes cards to thank her every time, and little Ji-yong turns into big Dae-gu. In his last card he writes that he’s been accepted into law school and will be leaving the orphanage.
He waves goodbye to the other kids and sets off on his own, and then Chief Kang finds him at the university and greets him with the box of cards he’s sent her over the years. This would be a really heartwarming story if I didn’t suspect she was evil and sought you out to use you as her revenge puppet, but the moment itself is very sweet.
In the present, Dae-gu tells her that he thinks Pan-seok is onto him. She’s surprised that it’s sooner than they anticipated, and then she asks if Dae-gu is really sure that Pan-seok is the bad guy here. She says she put Dae-gu on his team because he was so insistent about it, but she’s watched Pan-seok over the years and doesn’t know if he’s really the dirty cop that Dae-gu thinks he is. Hm, are you maybe NOT the evil puppetmaster?
Dae-gu flares up at that and reminds her of the pendant and his contact with Combat Boots, back then and even now. He argues that he can’t be as emotional about having goodwill towards Pan-seok, and this is the opportunity he’s waited eleven years for.
He gets so worked up that it worries her, and she reminds him of the promise he made her—that no matter what, he’d let the law be the final judgment, and not take revenge into his own hands. Great, now I think she isn’t evil, which is probably going to bite me in the ass later. He calms down and agrees to keep his promise.
Soo-sun has been shivering all morning, and Dae-gu watches grumpily as Tae-il checks her forehead as they all walk into the precinct. He asks where she stayed last night, and when she says she slept at a friend’s place, Dae-gu’s eyes dart over warily.
The whole team gathers to confront the two brothers in the father-son murder case, and Dae-gu and Pan-seok exchange suspicious looks in silence. Pan-seok opens up the autopsy report, and the brothers go another round of accusing the other of killing Dad.
They have to pry them apart again, Pan-seok tells them that the time of death was a full day before the body was discovered. As he narrates the likely scenario, we see it in flashback: Dad thinks twice about the eldest son’s requests for help and starts using the brand new smartphone he gave him.
But all day he gets calls from his son that he can’t manage to answer, because he doesn’t know that you have to slide the button to pick up a call. Dad spends the day washing the younger son’s shoes by hand, and then runs back to the bathroom to pick up a call.
That’s when he slips on a slab of soap, and in an effort to keep the precious phone from breaking, he ends up hitting the floor head-first. He lies there bleeding on the floor, still struggling to answer the call from his eldest son, while his younger son is zoning out at his game.
They’re floored, and Pan-seok declares the case an accidental death. That’s a terrible way to die, but given the brothers’ snottiness, they could use a sobering moment of shared guilt.
Pan-seok takes the team out to lunch for a job well done, but it’s hard for everyone to be perky. Immediately following lunch, Gook calls his mom to ask for that food she offered to send up last time, and insists it’s because he misses Mom’s cooking.
Tae-il sits with his thumb over his mom’s number on his phone, wanting to call but chickening out at the last minute. And Dae-gu communicates with his mom in the only way he can—by writing out text messages that he can never send. He asks if she met Dad where she is, and if he’s good to her.
Pan-seok mulls over Dae-gu’s strange behavior since he arrived, from his refusal to tell anyone where he was from to his shockingly combative attitude towards Pan-seok. He can’t shake the thought that he might be Ji-yong. Thank goodness, because nobody likes a battle of wits where the wits are dim.
So he calls Gook out to take him over to the boys’ apartment, and asks for Dae-gu’s toothbrush outright. He takes it, and tells Gook to give the excuse that he dropped it in the toilet by accident. Poor Gookie frets, But Dae-gu will be mad at me…
Pan-seok tries all the drawers in Dae-gu’s desk, but they’re locked, and his laptop requires a password. He leaves with the toothbrush for now and warns Gook that he was never here.
Gook wonders what this is all about, guessing that nobody takes a toothbrush for anything other than a DNA test. He gasps, “Is he… his son? No, there’s the age difference and all… I’ve seen too many dramas.” Pfft.
Pan-seok submits the toothbrush for a DNA test, and Eung-do tells him it’s probably a good thing to just find out for sure since he’s likely to keep obsessing about it if there’s even a seed of doubt.
Eung-do asks why he isn’t on his date with Sa-kyung, and Pan-seok flails over to his locker and starts undressing right there. *REWIND*
This time he shows up to the right restaurant all dressed up in a crisp white shirt, and even impresses Sa-kyung with his trendy eatery know-how. He tells her all you have to do is google “tasty restaurant with oppa,” and you get all the best date spots in town. Ha. That’s actually clever.
He’s adorably proud of himself for it, and he does this super geeky overbite thing whenever he’s around Sa-kyung that just kills me. He gets flustered when she asks about Soo-sun staying over the other night, and he insists nervously that he left the apartment soon after she did.
Sa-kyung doesn’t seem overly fussed about it, but likes that he offered that up without her having to ask. She muses that he’s likely to house Soo-sun every night that it rains, but he’s quick to say no—she’ll definitely solve her housing crisis before then. Sa-kyung is satisfied at that answer, and lets it go. Phew, bullet dodged.
Hilariously, Pan-seok seems not to have known that the restaurant he chose serves spring rolls, and he fumbles to craft anything edible on his plate. Sa-kyung just makes a roll in silence and then puts it on his plate with a quippy, “Eat up, Oppa.” Hee.
They go window-shopping and tease each other with nicknames, and end up getting caught in the rain. They run to a storefront, and when he pulls her close to shield her from getting splashed by a passing car, she leans in and gives him a little kiss.
They hold hands and stand there waiting out the rain together. Their dates are so cute.
When we fade back in, it’s a new day and a new case. (Wait, but where did Soo-sun sleep in the rain?) The team is deployed in pairs to catch a suspect in an office building, and Pan-seok arrives on the roof to find Tae-il backing away slowly with his baton out.
The suspect comes into view, and he’s wielding a knife pointed at Gook’s throat. Oh no, hostage again? Pan-seok tells the rest of the team to back off, but poor Gook is the one who’s most disappointed in himself, and starts resisting even as the guy starts hitting him in the back of the head with the blunt end of the knife.
Tae-il screams at him to get it together and stop putting himself in more danger, but Gook is irrational and screams back that Tae-il might be a doctor, but he’s nothing more than a cop who’s been taken hostage three times, and refuses to have it happen again.
He takes this moment, of all moments, to out Tae-il as a doctor to everyone else on the team, and then charges at the suspect with all his strength. He knocks the knife out of his hand and they go tumbling down the stairs, where he’s captured. Pan-seok looks down at him with a smile of approval.
Gook limps over to Tae-il back at the station and apologizes for outing his big secret. He admits to feeling inferior and letting it get to him, and beats himself over the head for being so petty. Tae-il counters that that won’t appease him, and decides he should’ve outed Gook’s crush on Soo-sun just to get even.
Gook freaks out at the empty threat, and Tae-il just pushes him onto the couch so that he can tend to his twisted ankle. D’awww.
Gook mutters in a disgruntled tone that he’s annoyingly perfect, and Tae-il says coolly that he knows. Just like that, they’re back to teasing and roughhousing, and all is right with the world again.
Soo-sun’s oppa waits outside the precinct for her, and she runs out to greet him playfully. They go get ice cream and he marvels at his sister the detective, and she fishes for more compliments.
He takes one look and decides she looks old, especially when he’s stayed the same all these years. Ha, which is literally true since Oppa is the same actor for both timelines. They’re great together. Can Oppa move up to Seoul so she can have someone to speak to in her country accent?
Dae-gu happens to walk by the café, and Oppa immediately recognizes him as Ji-yong. Soo-sun is surprised that he sees Dae-gu as Ji-yong too, and he mentions that he saw Ji-yong in Masan just recently.
Later when they’re on a stakeout together, Soo-sun tries to prompt him to put his glasses on again, but he snaps back at her. She wonders if he’s mad at her for something because he’s being especially cold to her lately, but he just argues that he’s never been nice to begin with. True.
Dae-gu spots their suspect approaching in his rearview mirror, and grabs Soo-sun to duck down in the car. They wait it out for a beat huddled close together, and then he peers up… at the suspect who’s got his faced pressed up to the window.
They all jump back, and then the chase is on. They chase him through the neighborhood, but Soo-sun trips on an untied shoelace and Dae-gu loses him when he gets on a scooter and rides away.
They blame each other for losing him, and then Dae-gu sighs when he sees that she’s scraped up from falling. He stops her from bending down to tie her shoelaces and does it for her, which of course she remembers vividly as exactly the thing Ji-yong did eleven years ago.
He even ties them his secret special way, which is more proof than she’d ever need. Soo-sun calls out as he gets up to walk away, “Kim Ji-yong!” She knows it’s him, but he denies it emphatically over and over, so she keeps at it, insisting that she’s right.
She holds onto his arm and doesn’t back down, so he finally blurts, “If you say it one more time, I’ll kiss you!” Is that… supposed to be a threat? He says it like it’s a threat, and she lets go without another word.
It’s not a huge surprise that when Combat Boots makes a reappearance, it’s at Assemblyman Yoo’s office. The former chief of police and current politician has seemed shady from the start, but he looks quite peeved to learn that Combat Boots has returned to the country permanently.
Combat Boots grins as he tells the assemblyman that he hasn’t exactly been upfront with him about everything: that kid eleven years ago, well, he didn’t exactly kill him like he said he did. Whoops. Assemblyman Yoo can’t believe that loose thread has been dangling out there for all this time, and Combat Boots just chuckles and offers to finish the job at his request.
Pan-seok comes out of the DNA testing facility all tied up in anxious knots. He braces himself before opening the envelope. This time there’s no denying it: Dae-gu is a match to Mom’s DNA.
Pan-seok returns to the precinct with his eyes fixated on Dae-gu. He stares for a long drawn-out moment, and we see that in his line of sight, Dae-gu is just little fifteen-year-old Kim Ji-yong, sitting at the desk still wearing his school uniform.
He looks at him with such regret, and I half expect him to burst into tears right then and there, but he just lets out a long sigh. He asks Dae-gu in a soft voice to join him for a chat, and takes him up to the roof.
When he turns around to face him, Pan-seok can no longer hide the emotion on his face, and his eyes glisten with tears as he calls out gently, “Ji-yong-ah.” Dae-gu looks down and sees the DNA testing center envelope in his hand.
Dae-gu grits his teeth ready to do battle, but Pan-seok says in a shaky voice, “Thank you for being alive, for growing up so well.” He chokes on his tears as he repeats, “Thank you, so much.”
Dae-gu still denies it, but Pan-seok calls himself ajusshi like the old days and says he searched everywhere for him. He says he understands why Ji-yong would hate him so much, because of what happened to Mom, and because it’s all his fault.
But Dae-gu just grows angrier the more Pan-seok apologizes, and balls up his fist until it’s white-knuckled and shaking. Dae-gu insists again that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but Pan-seok doesn’t let him walk away. He says the DNA test is something he can’t deny.
Dae-gu loses it and screams over and over that it isn’t him: “If I say I’m not, I’m not, you son of a bitch!” He rails at Pan-seok not to ask and adds, his voice dripping with hate, that he can go ahead and stay in the dark for the rest of his life and die of curiosity. Pan-seok’s face falls and he inches forward, but Dae-gu stomps away.
Soo-sun sits at her desk late into the evening, mulling over Dae-gu’s secret identity and why he’d keep lying. She decides to head over to the apartment and wedges her foot in the door, pleading for ten minutes of his time.
He finally relents and starts counting down, and she says that she can’t just let it go like this. She knows he’s Ji-yong, and then remembers to quickly add: “Don’t kiss me!” But she thinks she has a right to ask, since she worried about him a lot when he disappeared from Masan, and wonders if maybe there’s a reason he needs to hide his identity.
She says that if that’s the case, she’ll stop asking right now. He hesitates, and he looks like he might spill the beans… but he just keeps counting down. She sighs and gives up. But then at the last minute he says he isn’t Kim Ji-yong, “But I know him.”
He refers to Ji-yong in the third person and says that he asked him to tell her—that she’s right, that there’s a reason he can’t tell her, that he needs her to keep his secret. She nods and says she understands, and then stammers that that’s what he should tell his “friend” Ji-yong.
She switches gears and asks Dae-gu brightly if he’s eaten, and they head out. Soo-sun watches him drink with the sunniest smile on her face, and he wonders if she’s gone mental. She says it’s because she’s happy—when he, er, his friend Ji-yong disappeared, she thought he died.
All of Masan thought so too, and she regretted it all this time that she said those terrible things about his mom. She tells him to make sure to tell his friend, and he says it’s okay, and catches himself: “I mean, Ji-yong said it’s okay.”
She begs him to answer just one more question and asks about growing up in an orphanage. He tells her not to pity him, because he was lucky and grew up in a nice orphanage with a kind director, and got to go to college because of a benefactor. She smiles, relieved to hear that his childhood wasn’t awful, and then her one last question turns into just one more.
She tells Dae-gu to tell his friend Ji-yong that he can call her whenever he needs her. “Even if he doesn’t call me noona for the time being, I’ll forgive him.” HA. He scoffs, and she has to remind herself that today is a special occasion and he gets a pass. “Your friend Ji-yong is two years younger than me and he used to be all, noona, noona!”
She makes it clear that it’s very big of her to forgive him for that, and says she won’t even tell Tae-il or Gook about his real age, so if his friend Ji-yong ever needs her, he should call. She promises to keep his secret and be there when he calls, “Because I’m on Kim Ji-yong’s side, no matter what!” He can’t say it—that he’s grateful—but it’s written on his face, and she just stares at him happily while he eats.
They get ready to part ways out on the sidewalk, but at the last minute Soo-sun wraps her arms around his waist in a backhug. Her throat catches as she says, “Thank you.” And then she adds this bit of praise, “You were brave,” but the way she says it is like something an adult would tell a child: You did good, kid.
He raises a hand to hers at first to pull away, but she says it again and holds on, and he just lets his hand rest on hers. She clutches him tightly, and he can’t fight his tears anymore and cries.
FINALLY, the cat’s out of the bag! I found today’s episode to be quite promising, in that we’re finally past the obvious beats and secret revelations that we as an audience have known from the start, which means now we can stop waiting for Soo-sun and Pan-seok to catch up. She was more frustrating than he was on that score, since Dae-gu was practically dropping hints in her lap with giant bows on them, but when he stooped down to tie her shoe in this episode it struck me that he secretly wants her to know, deep down. Because he’s clearly not an idiot, though I suppose he does think that she is; still, he can’t have expected to keep it secret from her forever while he’s going around exposing his top-secret shoelace tricks. We all knew it was coming the second he did it as a tween, but it was no less sweet when she recognized him as an adult by his double-knotted-rabbit-ears handiwork.
I loved the choice to have Dae-gu and Soo-sun talk about Ji-yong like he wasn’t there, which adds a great touch to the conversation where they get to be a little more frank while hiding behind the we’re-not-talking-about-me façade. It also forces them to tamp down their emotions, which I always find more interesting than just laying your soul bare all the time.
My favorite thing about the reunions for both Pan-seok and Soo-sun is that they both see Dae-gu as fifteen years old all of a sudden. It’s like Ji-yong was frozen in time because he disappeared from their lives at that age. He left such an indelible impression on them when they thought he died—Soo-sun because she was young, and Pan-seok because he felt responsible. They instantly become Ajusshi and Noona all over again, and the warmth in their eyes is so touching as they each thank him sincerely for being alive. I believe them both, and it makes me even sadder to think it’s been eleven years since he’s been loved like that by anybody. We know he’s pretty stunted in adolescence in many ways, but there’s something greatly comforting about the fact that other people still see him as that little kid too.
It’s no shocker that Cha Seung-won steals the show since he’s the veteran here, but he was especially great in this episode, where he remained so understated and kept the big reveal anchored in such a perfect mix of happiness and sadness. He just wore it on his face, from the relief over finding Ji-yong alive to the regret over the years he must’ve spent growing up all alone. I just loved the massive distance between them, and how Pan-seok kept inching toward him and searching for a way in.
I’m still not convinced that Chief Kang isn’t evil (because she clearly didn’t happen to become Dae-gu’s benefactor by sheer coincidence), but I wonder if she was being sincere about making Dae-gu promise not to take revenge into his own hands. Because if she and Pan-seok are on the same side, Dae-gu actually has a fighting chance of taking down the bad guys. I won’t get greedy though; for now we have budding romances and growing friendships, and a father-son dynamic duo just waiting to clear up decades-long misunderstandings, fight crime together, and go out for ice cream. What’re the odds it won’t take ten more episodes to get there?
- Election preemptions for Wednesday dramas
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- You’re All Surrounded: Episode 3
- You’re All Surrounded: Episode 2
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