Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 16 (Final)
This final episode is Girl Who Sees Smells is a bit of a mishmash, but we do get plenty of excitement, and some surprises, too. But first Mu-gak has to do his best save Cho-rim, and hope to finally avenge his sister and her parents in the process. Jae-hee has a few new tricks up his sleeve, and the team will have to think fast on their feet if they want to rescue both of their friends before disaster strikes.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Cho-rim is discovered to be missing just as the wedding starts, and everyone goes running to look for clues as to what could have happened to her. It’s not until the team checks out the CCTV from the parking garage that they see Jae-hee putting an unconscious Cho-rim into an ambulance. He stops to stare straight into the camera, making sure they know exactly who’s responsible.
Detective Kang assures Mu-gak that he’s got every available cop looking for Cho-rim, and gives permission for Mu-gak to participate in the search. Kang says it may not be helpful, but he’s sure Cho-rim will be okay.
Lieutenant Yeom volunteers to be in on the investigation too, and she begs Mu-gak to please follow police procedure this time. Something in Mu-gak’s face tells me that ain’t gonna happen. Detective Ki tells them they’ve located Jae-hee’s van in Paju, and the team leaps into action.
Still tied up in the van, Cho-rim watches Jae-hee fiddle with a homemade bomb, and asks him what he’s planning. He tells her calmly not to worry — the bomb is for Mu-gak. He says not to ask questions, and she’ll see everything soon enough. Cho-rim thinks fast and takes off her engagement ring, drags the diamond through the explosive plastic, and throws it out the window. Smart girl.
The van and it’s occupants are gone by the time Mu-gak and the cops arrive, but he quickly spots Cho-rim’s ring and knows they’re on the right track. He sees the strange material on the ring and hands it over to forensics to analyze.
Back at the station Yeom points out that Jae-hee’s goal must be more than his usual kidnapping/murder, since his pattern is different this time. Knowing what she knows of criminals, she assures Mu-gak that Jae-hee will contact them to let them in on his plan.
Jae-hee takes Cho-rim to the apartment building where she and Mu-gak recently rented, setting up shop in the showroom unit. It’s especially eery, knowing that Jae-hee has been watching them that closely. Cho-rim seems more angry than scared, and demands to know what exactly he wants, and Jae-hee says that he’s deciding which of them lives and which dies.
She asks why Jae-hee killed her parents, saying that she’s remembered every despicable thing he did back then. She yells that she’ll never forgive him, and Jae-hee almost seems to experience a moment of remorse, admitting that those words feel different coming from her.
Sure enough, Jae-hee does call Mu-gak soon. He says that Cho-rim is fine, and that it’s really Mu-gak that he wants. Mu-gak wants proof of Cho-rim’s safety, but that upsets Jae-hee, who says Mu-gak is in no position to give orders. He tells Mu-gak to go to Cho-rim’s old house, and wait for further instructions.
He orders Mu-gak to go alone or the proof he sends will be of Cho-rim’s death. So Mu-gak does his best to casually leave the station without attracting attention, but Yeom notices that the moment he’s out the door, he breaks into a run.
When he gets to Cho-rim’s old place he sends a picture of himself to prove it, and in return Jae-hee puts Cho-rim on video call, though her mouth is covered in tape so she can’t talk. When Mu-gak tries to assure her he’ll be “home” soon (assuming she’s in their actual rented unit, since they also rented the same furniture as in the showroom), she shakes her head frantically.
Jae-hee takes over the call and tells Mu-gak not to move or Cho-rim dies, warning him not to provoke him. Mu-gak is helpless for the time being, and he struggles to stay calm and he waits for another call.
Jae-hee shows Cho-rim the bomb, and tells her that he plans to set it up in their actual rented place. When Mu-gak goes there, thinking that’s where he’s being held, he’ll step on it, and… BOOM. He creepily comforts her that she won’t be without Mu-gak for long, as she’ll be joining him directly afterward.
When the team realizes that Mu-gak’s gone off on his own (told ya so) they track his phone, and find him still at Cho-rim’s old place. Kang trusts him now and says they should give him time and see what he’s planning, but Yeom seems to get an idea and rushes off alone.
Jae-hee arms the bomb at Cho-rim and Mu-gak’s apartment, setting it under the entryway mat so that Mu-gak will step on it when he walks inside, and set it off. He calls Mu-gak with another video of Cho-rim, still shaking her head, and tells Mu-gak to come to his new place at three o’clock sharp.
The guys see his tracking signal start to move, and Yeom tells them that the material found on Cho-rim’s ring is one used to make bombs. Okay, now they’re getting an idea of Jae-hee’s plan, thank goodness.
Jae-hee goes to the building across the street from the apartment to watch, and precisely at three o’clock, Mu-gak lets himself into the unit. Jae-hee sees a fiery explosion and smiles to himself in satisfaction. He heads back to the showroom apartment where Cho-rim is hidden, informing her that it’s all over — Mu-gak is dead.
He pours some chloroform on a rag, promising not to kill Cho-rim as cruelly as he did Mu-gak. He approaches her with the rag, but suddenly Mu-gak appears from the next room and kicks him away from her. As Mu-gak is untying Cho-rim, Jae-hee pulls a knife, but Mu-gak steps in front of the vicious slash meant for Cho-rim and takes a wound to the torso.
Jae-hee flees out the door and up to the roof with Mu-gak right behind, and the two men fight with kicks and punches. Jae-hee hits the ground several times but keeps getting back up, until finally Mu-gak flips him over his head and follows it with a hard kick to the face. He picks up a pipe but just before he can smash Jae-hee’s skull, Jae-hee calls out, “Wait!”
He’s beaten, and weakly asks Mu-gak not to kill him, though Mu-gak screams that his life isn’t precious enough to save. Jae-hee gasps that killing him won’t solve anything, and laughs. Mu-gak isn’t scared to get his hands dirty, and Jae-hee deserves to die, but he makes the right choice to follow the law and drops the pipe.
He orders Jae-hee to turn over to be cuffed, but of course Jae-hee instead grabs the pipe and goes after Mu-gak. He makes a few swipes then jabs it into Mu-gak’s stomach, using it to shove him to the edge of the building, intending to push him over. At the last second, Mu-gak twists and neatly flings Jae-hee over the edge, and all the way to the pavement below.
Seeing Jae-hee’s body lying there, Mu-gak realizes that this time, it’s truly over. Exhausted and bleeding, he collapses on the roof and cries. Kang and Yeom find Cho-rim and untie her, and the whole team go down to the street and stand around Jae-hee’s lifeless body. Their faces show relief as they understand that he’s finally dead.
Later at the station, Yeom asks how Mu-gak knew that Cho-rim was really in the showroom apartment and not their own. He says that in their wedding invitation video, they’d put a picture of themselves on the table, and that picture was not in the videos that Jae-hee was sending to him of Cho-rim. Her shaking her head “no” was really her nodding at the table, to point out the missing photo.
We see that after the material on Cho-rim’s ring was identified, a bomb squad went to the new apartment once Mu-gak notified the team of where Jae-hee was trying to send him. They diffused the bomb then set up a dummy explosion, so that Jae-hee would think Mu-gak was dead.
It’s Detective Ki who realizes that the wedding was never completed — are Mu-gak and Cho-rim married, or not? Cho-rim says not since she never even entered the hall, but Mu-gak insists that she wore the dress, so they’re married. Um no, that’s not how that works, but their bickering over it is cute.
Either way, the next thing we know, the couple are decorating their new place with their wedding photos. Detective Oh comes to see them and they bow to him formally, and he tells Cho-rim that she should go back to using her real name, Choi Eun-seol. She says sweetly that she’s still his daughter, and she’ll keep the name he gave to her.
Unable to afford another full wedding, Cho-rim and Mu-gak instead apply for a wedding license. They need witnesses, and they each say they were going to ask someone dear to the other, but it’s a surprise.
Cho-rim meets with Lieutenant Yeom at Ae-ri’s coffee shop, and Ae-ri is adorably annoying that she wants be a witness, too. Cho-rim says that Mu-gak considers Yeom to have changed his life, and that she’s sometimes jealous of their friendship. Since Mu-gak saved her life, Yeom is honored to witness for them.
Mu-gak ends up taking his copy to the Frog Troupe director, which seems like a strange choice. But Cho-rim also thinks of him as having changed her life. Her sunbae Woo-ya pouts that she’s jealous, because the director is so nice to Cho-rim these days. She cutely threatens to beat up Mu-gak if he ever makes Cho-rim unhappy, and he congratulates her on her recent TV debut.
The director signs the papers and says that he’s learned one thing in his life — he could only make people laugh if he considered them to be above him. Maybe because fools and idiots make people laugh. He asks Mu-gak sincerely, “Make Cho-rim laugh.” In other words, put her before himself.
A man is found stabbed to death in his apartment, and the detective team discuss his life while they investigate the scene. The forensics team isn’t finding much, and Kang thinks it will be a difficult case to solve. Ki says there must be scent clues around too, and Kang lights up to hear that Cho-rim and Mu-gak haven’t left on their honeymoon yet.
Mu-gak and Cho-rim enter their apartment all wound around each other, it being their first time arriving home as a married couple. Mu-gak gives Cho-rim their first kiss as a married couple, then goes off to take his first shower as a married man. Alone, my good sir?
Cho-rim answers the door to find Kang there with his biggest grin, and he asks if married life is proving difficult. He begs a favor, pouring on the guilt that his future is on the line and giving her his best puppy-dog eyes.
When Mu-gak comes out in his bathrobe, clearly anticipating some more first-as-a-married-couple moments (rawr?), he finds Cho-rim gone (aww, no rawr). She left a note saying she was going with Kang, and Mu-gak’s own neglected-puppy-dog eyes are pretty formidable, if you ask me.
Cho-rim looks around at the crime scene, noticing a strange scent of squid and octopus wafting from under a table. Yeh finds a button there that just reeks of seafood, noting that it has no dust on it so it must not have been there long.
Ki and Yeh visit a seafood place in one of the buildings owned by the murdered man, that just happens to be having a special on the same seafood that Cho-rim saw. The ajumma-owner seems to be acting strange, and when she removes her apron, her jacket is missing a button. They arrest her as a murder suspect and take her in for questioning.
Kang is happy as a clam with how this investigation is going, and Yeh figures it’s because Cho-rim is back helping them. Kang wants to treat her to dinner but she and Mu-gak leave for their honeymoon tomorrow. Kang says it makes him think of his honeymoon, and Yeh deadpans, “You have seven kids. It’s like your honeymoon never ended.” Badum-tssh!
Cho-rim pouts as they pack, and not even the mention of Cho-rim’s bikini gets him out of his funk. Aww, he’s feeling left out that he wasn’t asked to help in the investigation, too. Some wifely snuggles and Cho-rim’s insistence that she can’t investigate anything without him snap him out of his grump, and they end up in a cute tickle fight. Rawr, finally?
They head off for their tropical honeymoon, both in a fine mood, at least until they’re pulled over by a cop. HAHA, it’s Detectives Ki and Yeh, who’ve come to fuss at Cho-rim — the restaurant ajumma isn’t the murderer. Her son has come forward and confessed. Wait, you have a confession and you interrupted their honeymoon?! Anyway, both mother and son are confessing, and the guys need their help.
Mu-gak is pulled in to question the ajumma, who insists that she murdered her landlord and her son wasn’t involved. Mu-gak says that they think that the man was already dead when she went to his apartment, but she recognized the knife from her restaurant and knew her son did it.
But the ajumma sticks to her story, refusing to change a word no matter how many times they ask. So Mu-gak interrogates the son, who swears that his mother wasn’t even there — she’s giving a false confession to save him. But he says he doesn’t remember what really happened, and something tells me they’re both lying to save the other.
From behind the one-way mirror, Cho-rim notices that the son’s shoes are giving off two different scents. One smells like fish as expected, but the other seems to be herbal-scented. She tells Mu-gak that she noticed something strange at the crime scene — there was a set of footprints leading away from the dead man that were of two different scents, like the shoes the son is wearing now.
But there’s a catch… the scents are on the wrong shoes. At the scene, the fish scent is on the right footprint, but it’s the son’s left shoe that carries the fish scent. Mu-gak goes back into the room, and asks the son if he knows anyone with a pair of the same shoes as the ones he’s wearing.
He says that recently a man started living with them, and his mother bought them each a pair of the same shoes. Moreover, the friend works in an herbal medicine store. Bingo. Yeh brings him in and sits him next to the ajumma’s son, telling him that he’s under arrest for murder. Ki found cash in his work locker, proving that he’s the murderer.
He’d broken into the landlord’s apartment to steal whatever he could find, but the landlord had caught him in the act. He’d stabbed the man and left with the money, and when the ajumma came to pay rent, she found the landlord dead. She saw the knife and assumed her son did it.
When the killer had left the house in a hurry that morning, he’d accidentally taken one of his and one of his friend’s shoes. So the scents on each shoe, and also the wear on the soles being different, proved he was the one who did the killing. Once again, Mu-gak gives Kang all the credit for figuring it out, just like old times.
Cho-rim and Mu-gak miss their Thai honeymoon, and Cho-rim cooks up a big dinner that night for her new husband. Most of the side dishes are gifts from their new neighbors, in thanks for Cho-rim helping them out with her ability, hee. Mu-gak says the other side dishes are awful and asks who made them — oops, Cho-rim did.
At almost the same time, they get calls from Kang and Ki, but ignore them this time for fear they’ll never get to leave for their honeymoon tomorrow. The team are desperate for help on all their cases, and actually stake out the newlyweds to try to catch them before they can leave for Thailand.
They’re unsuccessful, but Kang is surprised when Lieutenant Yeom shows up at the station. She says that there will be a new special cases team, and she’ll be heading it up. Hooray, she’s staying!
The reason the team couldn’t stop Cho-rim and Mu-gak from leaving on their honeymoon is that they never left. Instead, they turned off their phones and went on a “bicycle honeymoon,” though Mu-gak is disappointed he won’t get to see Cho-rim in her bikini. She shyly admits that she’s wearing it right now, and her new hubby demands to see it, hee.
They stop to rest, and Cho-rim says that she’ll never forget this moment. She gets a little weepy and Mu-gak calls her a crybaby, then asks her to call him something else besides “Officer Choi.” In an echo of his first confession, she tells him, “Yeobo, dangshin, jagi.” (Essentially wife, darling, honey.) “Pick one.”
“I love you, yeobo.” That makes Cho-rim cry again, and she responds with her own, “I love you, dangshin.” They snuggle, and Mu-gak’s phone rings with a call from Lieutenant Yeom. She’s almost certainly offering him a place on her special cases team, but it goes ignored for now.
They ride the bike a bit further, and Mu-gak casually asks if they should go solve a case. Cho-rim fusses that he must have answered someone’s call even though they agreed not to, and he admits that Yeom called him. She did offer him a place on her team, and there’s already a very interesting case that needs solving.
Cho-rim tries to act like she’s annoyed, but clearly the case sounds compelling to her, too. They both bluster that hey, nine people going missing all at once can happen any time, it’s no big deal, and they’re not at all curious. Then they smile at each other, turn the bike around, and head back to go join the team.
Well, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, it was a cute and interesting ending to a cute and interesting show, and I felt that the final showdown between Mu-gak and Jae-hee was sufficiently dramatic and satisfying. I felt from the beginning that the show would end up with one of them dead — after so many heinous murders, Jae-hee didn’t deserve a nice cell and three square meals a day. And I honestly feel that Mu-gak and Cho-rim needed the closure of knowing that the man who destroyed both their families was gone from the world, one way or another. So in that sense, I’m happy with the way the Barcode Murder case ended.
But on the other hand, where were our answers? So many fascinating questions were raised during the course of the drama about psychopathic murderers and what makes them do what they do, and I was so looking forward to some discussion on that by the characters. Jae-hee’s method of murder was so unique and (sorry to say) interesting, and I gave the writer the benefit of the doubt that they were going to give us some really great reasons for his actions. But instead we got… nothing.
We don’t know how Jae-hee’s being adopted contributed, if at all, and we never found out when he started murdering and why. Was he abused? Was he just sick in the head? And why books and barcodes? What did those represent, and what did the books mean to him? Why was he compelled to kidnap people and force them to write their life stories, and why did he become so emotionally invested in the books? How did he choose his victims in the first place — the show made a point to say the victims had nothing obvious in common, so surely there was something about each of them that made their lives something Jae-hee felt was worth killing them to own. I’m left with a feeling of dissatisfaction, because I find human psychology such an engrossing subject, and I was all excited to finally find out what it was that made Jae-hee the monster that he became. But what I got instead was a fall from the roof and a new case-of-the-week that had nothing to do with anything.
As a whole, I did think the show delivered a pretty fun and unique story and I did enjoy the ride most of the way. The premise of a girl who can actually see smells had me head-tilting when I first heard of it, but in my opinion, that’s the thing the show did best. Cho-rim’s ability was much more useful than I anticipated, and was executed in a way that left me wishing we’d gotten to see even more of the pretty scents that only she could detect. The way the scents were used was fresh and fun, from allowing her to help solve crimes to giving us one of the sweetest tailor-made drama proposals ever, and if I have any complaints about it, it’s that I wish it had been used more. Cho-rim’s ability, in the end, didn’t have any part in bringing down the killer. Since the show was all about her gift of seeing scents, it would have been nice if she’d had a chance to use it to bring her parents’ murderer to justice. Instead, Mu-gak did all the work while she sat tied to a chair.
But I digress again. I won’t deny that there’s a lot that Girl Who Sees Smells could have done better, especially after such a strong start, but there’s a lot it did very well throughout it’s run. The characters were all so endearing, even down to the smallest side characters, and the bumbling but well-meaning detective team will be remembered for their heart (if not their brains) for a long time to come. It was lovely to see our leads end up with a family in the end, even if it was an unconventional group of misfit cops (I love that they all will end up working together after all, which seems to make them the most happy). The murder mystery was one of the most interesting I’ve seen, and even though we didn’t get a lot of the answers we hoped for, it was never a boring ride. And the main couple will have a place in my heart as one of my all-time favorites. They fit together in a way that felt natural and lasting, and they always communicated with each other and trusted the other to keep them safe, physically and emotionally. I won’t soon be forgetting the damaged boy who couldn’t feel, and the girl whose beautiful way of seeing the world gave him back his life.
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 15
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 14
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 13
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 12
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 11
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 10
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 9
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 8
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 7
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 6
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 5
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 4
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 3
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 2
- Girl Who Sees Smells: Episode 1