Mystery Queen: Episode 4
As our detectives start to dig deeper into the burglary case, Wan-seung almost starts to trust Seol-ok as he recognizes that at the very least, she’s got talent. Unfortunately, he’s a bit too stubborn to admit that she might have even more talent than him, and Seol-ok has to spend her time trying to convince the hardheaded Wan-seung to look at the clues pointing him in a completely different direction from his assumptions.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
On a dark and eerie night at the supposedly burglarized house, Hee-chul’s grandfather looms over the corpse of his daughter-in-law while holding a knife in his trembling hand. Hee-chul’s grandmother stands behind her husband, shaking with worry.
The elderly couple work frantically to remove all traces of the crime before driving out solemnly with the body in the car. On the road, the grandmother suddenly yells, causing the old man to veer into the opposite lane and nearly crash into an oncoming truck. They survive, but they’re clearly on edge, and the grandmother stutters to her husband that there’s (literal) blood on his hands.
Meanwhile, Hee-chul’s father, CHA YONG-CHUL, is on his way home, urging his friend to join him for a few more drinks before they split. As they make their way to the front of the house, the friend yells in shock, pointing at the partially broken-down door, and he immediately calls the police to report a robbery.
At a bridge in the middle of nowhere, the grandmother begins to sob as she watches her husband heave the body over the railing and into the river below, apologizing over and over again to her dead daughter-in-law.
We return to the present, with Wan-seung demanding an answer from Seol-ok as they stand outside the house. She asks cryptically why he thinks the crime was reported as a robbery, and the camera pans over to the old man watching everything from a second floor window above.
Inside the house, the grandmother asks her husband if the detectives know the truth, and the old man reassures her that their son reported the crime as a robbery. Gravely, he adds that what happens to them won’t matter because they’re nearing death anyway, but Hee-chul is still young.
Outside, Wan-seung is still yelling at Seol-ok for answers, and Seol-ok just screams back that she needs to go home and cook — her mother-in-law is the type of person who’s never skipped a meal in her life, adding that she made sure to cook even when bombs were going off during the war, ha.
In the car, Seol-ok explains that she won’t tell Wan-seung who the culprit is unless she’s 100% sure. He argues that nothing is 100% certain in this world, but Seol-ok responds that even if there’s only a 0.01% chance that she’s wrong, she’s not willing to risk ruining the life of someone who’s innocent.
Seol-ok thanks Wan-seung for dropping her off, and Wan-seung yells after her as she walks away, wondering if that’s all she has to say. She thinks for a moment before making her way back to him, and then slowly leans her face in towards his. She puckers her lips… before exhaling and asking if she smells of alcohol.
Annoyed, Wan-seung reminds Seol-ok that she had promised to bring back tofu to her mother-in-law, and her eyes widen in surprise. Seol-ok hurries off to buy the tofu, but Wan-seung pulls her back and hands over two boxes that he had already bought for her. Aww. He drives away, but not before he’s spotted by Seol-ok’s sister-in-law, who remembers seeing Seol-ok stepping out from the same car the other night.
Back at the “burglarized” house, the forensics team suggests to Wan-seung that he take a look at the inside of the car for himself. Seol-ok was completely right about everything, even down to where he’d find the bloodstains in the car, and Wan-seung thinks to himself that she’s really something.
When Wan-seung finishes up with the car, the old man steps outside of the house with his wife following behind him, pleading for him to stop. He walks up to Wan-seung and confesses: “I killed her, Detective.” The old man lets Wan-seung arrest him, but the grandmother asks him to hold off on the handcuffs — Hee-chul is coming home soon, and she doesn’t want her grandson to see her husband in this state.
Wan-seung acquiesces, but as soon as he leads the old man into the car, Hee-chul comes running up to him, demanding to know why the police are arresting his grandfather when he asked them to look for his mother. Eyes downcast, the old man sits quietly inside the car as Hee-chul bangs on the door, screaming for his grandfather.
At home, Seol-ok’s phone vibrates loudly as she cooks under her sister-in-law’s watchful eye. Seol-ok pretends to drop an onion and scuttles quickly to a corner to secretly pick up Wan-seung’s call. He informs her that the old man is the culprit, but Seol-ok insists that he’s wrong.
She asks Wan-seung to let her question the old man in person, but Wan-seung refuses and dismissively tells her to just mind her own business and cook her meal. He hangs up on her, and Seol-ok sighs in frustration before jumping up to go to the police station anyway.
Unfortunately for Seol-ok though, none of her white lies can make it past her already suspicious sister-in-law; Ho-soon even offers to go grocery shopping and to take out the recycling so that Seol-ok doesn’t have to, which keeps Seol-ok stuck inside the house without a reason to leave.
At the police station, the old man tells Wan-seung that his daughter-in-law was like a real daughter to him. He explains that she was addicted to a drug that would make her dangerously aggressive at times — and that on that night, she had held a knife to her own throat and the old man had accidentally killed her while trying to stop her from killing herself.
At that moment, a text comes in to Wan-seung. He glances and it and sees that it’s Seol-ok cautioning him that the old man is giving a false confession right now. He texts her back, condescendingly telling her to just focus on cooking dinner, and she sighs in frustration.
Luckily for her, Joon-oh is always on her side, and he secretly makes a call to her house while pretending to be a part of the neighborhood association. He lies to Kyung-suk that Seol-ok would have to pay a fine for missing their neighborhood meeting today, and that finally gives Seol-ok the chance to make her escape.
It turns out that Seol-ok had engineered the plot with Joon-oh beforehand, and she thanks him for lying for her. He comments that he didn’t expect her to be married, but brushes it off by explaining that she looks too young, and Seol-ok grins at the compliment, agreeing wholeheartedly.
She complains that Wan-seung always calls her “ajumma” and argues that he’s not even good at investigating — he’s making a huge mistake about the culprit right now. Joon-oh is surprised to hear it since they have a confession, and he tells her that all they need to do now is find the body.
Seol-ok uses her logical reasoning to deduce that the body is in a place where they can leave the car and easily get rid of the body, and the scene cuts to the old man confessing to Wan-seung that he had disposed of the body in the river on the way to the temple.
A police officer walks into the investigation room and notifies Wan-seung that a woman is here to see him. Wan-seung rushes outside expecting to see Seol-ok, but instead, he’s greeted by a smiling Ji-won, here for personal matters.
She asks if he’s upset that he got demoted because of her, pointing out that Jang Do-jang got arrested, so he shouldn’t even be upset. Wan-seung complains that she’s going to help Jang get released anyway, and she doesn’t deny it as she merely asks why he’s so obsessed with Jang.
Ji-won tells Wan-seung that it’s his fault for getting caught on the CCTV cameras, and Wan-seung snaps at her, asking if this is how she apologizes. She tells him that she understands his feelings, but the engagement won’t work out if he’s mad at her.
Surprised, Wan-seung asks Ji-won if she’s getting engaged, and she nods, matter-of-factly responding that she’s getting engaged to him. Wan-seung points out that getting engaged isn’t just one person’s decision, and Ji-won just responds that both their families agreed to it. Wan-seung sighs that she’s gone crazy and stalks out of her car.
Ji-won follows him, suggesting that they forget the engagement and just get married. Wan-seung retorts that he’s never seen Ji-won as a woman, and she responds that she doesn’t need him to see her as a woman — she just wants to get married. She explains that she’s not the type to need her husband’s love and affection, and she doesn’t even care if he dates and sleeps with other women.
She proposes having separate love lives and then confesses: “Plus, I like you.” Wan-seung scoffs at the sheer ludicrousness of that statement and tells Ji-won to forget it — he can hear the wheels in her brain turning and calculating.
He turns around, and just then, he sees Seol-ok running up to the police station. Seol-ok tells him that using a confession to end an investigation isn’t sufficient evidence, but Wan-seung dismisses her point, adding that they even have a witness — Hee-chul’s grandmother testified that she saw her husband killing their daughter-in-law.
Seol-ok begs Wan-seung to let her talk to either the old man or his wife, and Wan-seung refuses point-blank. He gets temporarily distracted when Ji-won tries to get his attention, and Seol-ok uses that chance to rush inside the police station. Ji-won grabs him, but Wan-seung flings her off to chase after Seol-ok.
Ji-won gets back to her car and scoffs in disbelief at the whole situation. She gets a call from a restricted number and tosses the phone to the side, knowing exactly who it is. Meanwhile, the jail warden notifies Jang Do-jang that Ji-won’s not picking up, and Jang screams from his cell in frustration.
At the police station, Seol-ok meets up with Joon-oh after having successfully escaped from Wan-seung. Joon-oh hands Seol-ok a list of the exact times and locations of each family member on the night of the murder, and Seol-ok is excited to deduce the time of the murder.
Joon-oh is just about to bring Seol-ok to the interrogation room when Wan-seung spots the two of them and starts making his way over to yell at Seol-ok. She whispers to Joon-oh to put her on speakerphone again and pretends to give up when Wan-seung refuses to let her question the old man.
Wan-seung’s onto Joon-oh though, and he assigns him a different duty for the night: investigate the rural area where the body was disposed. Joon-oh wonders why he has to go when the local police will already be there, but Wan-seung just explains that everything related to the case is their unit’s responsibility.
Wan-seung even calls up a security guard to prevent Seol-ok from coming near the interrogation room, and Seol-ok can only glare at Wan-seung when he obnoxiously dismisses her. She tries creeping past the security guard when he appears to be dozing off, but he catches her red-handed, and Seol-ok complains loudly that Wan-seung sure is petty. From behind a corner, Wan-seung watches Seol-ok leave and grins, thinking that he’s won.
On her way home, Seol-ok passes by the “burglarized” house, and she lays out the lists that Joon-oh had given her earlier. The notes come to life in her mind as she calculates the times and alibis of each family member, and suddenly, everything clicks together: “There’s no mistaking it,” she says with a newfound determination in her voice.
Wan-seung discusses the case with Dong-ki, and explains that he’s sure the old man killed the daughter-in-law, though it makes him uneasy that the old man is hiding something from him. Dong-ki comments that once this case finishes up, Wan-seung will probably get reinstated soon, and Wan-seung agrees, eager to get back to the Jang Do-jang case.
Seol-ok visits the local police substation where Earnest Cop works, and Earnest Cop tells her that he was waiting for her to drop by — Joon-oh had notified him earlier that Seol-ok would need his help.
Meanwhile, Joon-oh watches as the local officers lift the body out of the river. He calls Wan-seung and notes that there really was no need for him to come all the way out here, and Wan-seung admits cavalierly that he sent Joon-oh on the trip just to get him out of the way.
Gritting his teeth, Joon-oh tells Wan-seung that he plans on heading back now, and Wan-seung brazenly asks if Joon-oh is upset with him. Joon-oh ignores the question and just responds that he’s coming back right now, even if it takes him all night.
At the police substation, Earnest Cop shows Seol-ok the recording of the phone call reporting the robbery, and Seol-ok notes that two people were making the call together, which complicates her theory. Seol-ok asks if Hee-chul’s father, Yong-chul, had been drinking with his friend the whole time, and Earnest Cop tells Seol-ok that Yong-chul had left briefly at 11:30 p.m. to buy some more alcohol.
Seol-ok asks Earnest Cop to bring her to meet the friend, and they leave the substation to Slacker Cop, who just now awakens from his nap. He calls after Earnest Cop, but it’s too late — now Slacker Cop actually has to do his job. (Oh, the horror!)
Yong-chul’s friend asks if the old man really killed Hee-chul’s mother, and Seol-ok denies it. She notes that Yong-chul’s friend is on a first-name basis with Hee-chul’s mother, and he explains that he was the one who introduced the couple to one another.
Seol-ok asks Yong-chul’s friend what he had done while Yong-chul had gone out to get drinks, and the friend says he had fallen asleep. Seol-ok comments that considering how close the house is, the friend could have probably dropped by the house in the time that Yong-chul went out for more drinks.
Seol-ok denies suspecting the friend though, and she explains that she was just asking because he could’ve potentially witnessed the crime. The friend continues with the story, and Seol-ok notes suspiciously that the friend says he was drunk, yet he remembers the exact time that Yong-chul returned.
She finds another flaw in his story when the friend says that he really thought a thief had entered the house, insisting that he didn’t know Hee-chul’s mother would end up dead. Seol-ok points out that the friend had called it a robbery over the phone, which implies that there was violence involved — almost as if he knew beforehand that someone inside had been killed.
Afterwards, Seol-ok and Earnest Cop stop by a clothing donation bin, and Earnest Cop rifles through the clothes, remembering that Wan-seung had asked him to look for the shoes used at the crime scene. Seol-ok compliments Earnest Cop for being so diligent, but Earnest Cop just says sadly that he’s unable to help at critical moments like Seol-ok does.
At that moment, a call comes in from Slacker Cop, who’s at the substation dealing with three pairs of unmanageable drunks. He demands that Earnest Cop come back, and Seol-ok urges Earnest Cop to go on, thanking him for all his help.
At the police station, Seol-ok begs Wan-seung to let her talk to the old man, and he asks if she has evidence that the old man isn’t the culprit. Seol-ok points out that all of Wan-seung’s supposed evidence only proves that the old man transported the body, not that he killed his daughter-in-law.
She argues that the proof is in the old man’s soft and fragile hands — it means that he’s never done any hard labor in his life. Wan-seung asks if she’s suggesting something ridiculous, like the old man can’t do something as rough as murder… and then backtracks, agreeing that she has a pretty good point there.
Nevertheless, it’s not enough to sway Wan-seung, and Seol-ok asks for his phone. She pulls it out of his back pocket and records herself: “If the grandfather is the culprit, I, Yoo Seol-ok, will not come to the station again! And I promise that I’ll never meddle with another investigation!”
She asks if this is enough for Wan-seung, but he just responds that if he leaks the investigation material, he’ll get disciplined by the higher-ups. Seol-ok reveals that she’s putting her ten-year-old dream of being a cop on the line for this, but Wan-seung is unsympathetic as he tells her to keep dreaming.
Seol-ok yells: “You don’t care who the real culprit is, do you?” That gets Wan-seung riled up into a yelling match with her about whether he’s doing a half-assed investigation or not — and in a fit of anger, he tells Seol-ok that he’s giving her until midnight to prove how capable she is. If she can’t catch the culprit though, he warns that he won’t let her get away with playing detective.
In the surveillance room, Wan-seung asks Seol-ok if she’s sure that she’s not just pitying the old man, and Seol-ok responds that the only person she pities is the victim.
At Seol-ok’s home, Ho-soon talks to her brother over the phone, snapping that she wouldn’t know if Seol-ok actually went to the neighborhood meeting or not. Kyung-suk notes that it’s awfully early for her son to be coming home at this time, and she wonders if Ho-soon mentioned something unnecessary to him.
In the interrogation room, Seol-ok greets the old man and tells him that they’ve met once before (when he was trying to clean out the bloodstains in the car). She tries to reassure the old man, asking him to talk comfortably with her, though it’s clear that he feels unnerved by her.
Taking the old man’s hands, she notes that they’re very soft, unlike the hands of someone well-trained with knives. She points out that most professionals wrap the blade near the handle with a bandage to prevent injury, and the old man looks up, defiantly responding that his hands aren’t injured because he wore gloves.
Seol-ok replies that his bloody fingerprint on the windowsill would’ve shown up with the shape of fiber as well, then. Indignantly, the old man snaps that he’d be crazy to lie about killing his someone when he didn’t, and Seol-ok agrees that it seems unreasonable; Wan-seung, watching from behind the one-way mirror, complains that she’s backing down too easily.
Seol-ok proceeds with her interrogation, pointing out that the old man’s explanation of messing up the house to cover up the crime defeats the purpose of moving the body. The old man explains that he didn’t know that his son would file a police report, and Seol-ok comments that it seems like something went wrong.
As she continues her questions, she ducks under the table with a measuring tape and marks down the size of the old man’s foot. She gets up and asks suddenly, “What if Hee-chul was the one who killed his mother by accident? Would you call the police or would you move the body? What if it was a planned murder and not an accident? What if he made it look like the robber killed her?”
The old man stands up, outraged, but Seol-ok continues, “You didn’t know about Hee-chul’s plan, so you got rid of the body out of concern for his future. Isn’t the thing that went wrong all making sense now?” Gritting his teeth, the old man spits out that Hee-chul is a young child who still needs his mother.
Trying to calm him down, Seol-ok tells the old man that she knows, and she reassures him that Hee-chul’s alibi is foolproof. Wary of Seol-ok, the old man insists that he was the culprit, but Seol-ok points out another hole in his story: His shoe size is much smaller than the culprit’s.
The old man tries to argue that he wore bigger shoes on purpose, but Seol-ok argues that he seemed awfully well-prepared for a crime that wasn’t premeditated, even buying larger shoes to cover up his tracks. When asked about the location of the shoes, the old man lies that he threw the shoes into the river, but Seol-ok brings out those very shoes from her bag, noting that they’re completely dry.
A flashback shows that she found the shoes at the bin that Earnest Cop had been searching, and in the present, Wan-seung complains that she didn’t show the evidence to him first. He starts to think that Seol-ok doesn’t even care who the real culprit is — she’s just trying to one-up him.
Wan-seung also wonders to himself who the old man is trying to protect if it’s not Hee-chul. He thinks that it could be Young-chul but remembers that Young-chul had an alibi, and in the interrogation room, Seol-ok urges the old man to tell the truth. She reminds him that the police will discover the truth once the autopsy results are revealed, and the old man looks tempted to confess.
He starts to ask Seol-ok a question, when suddenly, her phone buzzes with a call from Kyung-suk. The old man asks carefully if the sentence would be reduced if the culprit turned himself in before the autopsy results incriminated him, and Seol-ok answers yes as she does her best to ignore her phone.
Behind the mirror, Wan-seung urges Seol-ok to focus when he notices her fidgeting, and the old man begins confessing. The old man starts to talk, but he’s cut off by Seol-ok’s ringing phone again. This time, Seol-ok can’t hold back the urge to answer her phone anymore and jumps up, telling the old man that she needs to use the bathroom.
Wan-seung splutters in shock, wondering what Seol-ok is doing in the middle of an interrogation. He runs out of the room, yelling at her for leaving just as the old man was about to confess. Wan-seung tells her that everything’s ruined now, but Seol-ok just jumps up and insists that the old man is about to tell her the truth.
Behind the one-way mirror, Wan-seung notes that the old man’s facial expression has changed, and indeed, the old man appears much less vulnerable now. He lies brazenly, telling Seol-ok that the shoes she found are merely similar to the shoes that he threw in the river, and Seol-ok sighs as she realizes that she messed up.
Outside, Wan-seung scolds Seol-ok for running out during the interrogation, and he orders her to never come back. Their conversation is cut short by the arrival of a furious Yong-chul, who’s here for his father.
He notices Seol-ok right away and asks what right she has to investigate him when she’s not even a cop, but Seol-ok ignores his intimidation tactics, commenting pointedly that Yong-chul sure has big feet. Yong-chul closes in on her threateningly and yells that a gentle soul like his father could’ve never killed anyone.
Wan-seung points out that the old man himself confessed, but Yong-chul argues that his father only confessed because of Seol-ok and Wan-seung. Seol-ok disagrees, telling Yong-chul that his father confessed to protect the real culprit, and asks, “But who is he trying to protect? Is it perhaps… you?”
Wan-seung grabs Young-chul before he can get any closer to Seol-ok, and Wan-seung urges Seol-ok to go home. As he guides Young-chul into the station, Seol-ok is distracted by another phone call from home, and this time, Seol-ok’s patience with her mother-in-law has run out; she brusquely answers the phone to say that she can’t come home right now. Only, it’s not Kyung-suk who had been calling her, but Seol-ok’s husband, KIM HO-CHUL (Yoon Hee-seok).
Seol-ok runs after Wan-seung and yells to him that the time of murder is between 11:32 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. She asks Yong-chul where he was in that time frame and then throws out the question that she’s really been waiting to ask all along: “Did you kill your wife?”
While I do enjoy watching Seol-ok and Wan-seung bicker back and forth, I must say I’m a bit confused by Wan-seung’s flip-flopping — does he respect Seol-ok, or does he not? I was so excited to see Wan-seung begrudgingly acknowledge that Seol-ok has talent at the beginning of the episode, and I thought that him actively seeking her out would have meant that he was starting to trust her, or at least trust in her capabilities. Why, then, is he so reluctant to even just listen to her when she tries to tell him that the old man isn’t the culprit? One moment, he’s demanding that Seol-ok reveal the answer to this riddle of a crime, expecting her to know everything, and the next moment, he treats her like she’s an airheaded housewife idling about while telling her patronizingly to go home and cook.
It also bothers me that Wan-seung is supposed to be this elite detective, a “human lie-detector,” but he doesn’t notice the inconsistencies in the “robbery” case and just tries to wrap up the investigation without fully exploring all the possible scenarios. It’s not that he’s trying to cover up the truth per se, but Seol-ok did have a point when she told Wan-seung that he was doing a half-assed investigation; from his conversation with Dong-ki, it really does seem like Wan-seung only really cares about getting back to the Jang Do-jang case. I understand that Wan-seung is unhappy with his demotion and that he’s got bigger fish to fry (especially one that he has a personal vendetta against), but the way he’s handling this burglary case just makes it seem like he’s either not as talented as we’ve been told, or he’s just not as dedicated.
That’s why I really admire Seol-ok for relentlessly pursuing the evidence until she’s 100% sure. It’s such a big contrast to Wan-seung, who relies on his 80% certain gut feelings. While it’s true that he’s correct most of the time, like Seol-ok said, it’s possible that once in a blue moon, he’s going to ruin the life of someone who’s innocent.
For all of her high morals, though, Seol-ok has one fatal flaw: her fear of upsetting her mother-in-law. Wan-seung had every right to be infuriated with her for running out to pick up a call during the interrogation. I had no problem suspending my disbelief every time Joon-oh and the other officers talked to Seol-ok about confidential matters because that’s the whole premise of this drama, but Wan-seung has a point too: She can’t just go around playing detective when it’s convenient for her and then act completely unprofessional in the middle of a very real case. I was glad to see her standing up to Kyung-suk (or technically, Ho-chul) at the end of this episode, but I’m worried that she’s going to go right back to serving her in-laws while sneaking around behind their backs to solve cases. If Seol-ok has the dedication to find the evidence that Wan-seung refuses to search for, then she had better also back it up with the dedication to stand up to her mother-in-law when the time calls for it.
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