Mystery Queen: Episode 7
It’s Wan-seung’s turn to follow Seol-ok, who wants nothing more than for him to leave her alone so that she can investigate Ho-soon’s disappearance in peace. But he’s determined to help whether she wants him to or not—and while he tells himself that it’s only because he needs her to do him a favor in return, something tells me he’s having more fun with Seol-ok than he’s had in years. As for me, these two are quickly becoming one of my favorite comedic duos ever.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Just as Seol-ok declares that her sister-in-law is about to be kidnapped, her phone rings. It’s Ho-soon, and Wan-seung asks the other detective to trace the call. He races to the phone’s location, a ladies’ bathroom at the airport. Dodging shrieking women as he enters, he asks a janitor whether she saw anyone make a call. She says the call came from her after she found Ho-soon’s phone abandoned in a stall.
When they look at Ho-soon’s message history, Seol-ok and Wan-seung find transaction records from different airport stores. Seol-ok retraces Ho-soon’s steps and figures out what she bought based on the amounts.
They first go to a cafe, where Seol-ok says Ho-soon ordered cake and two coffees and waited for someone to join her; she probably got change for the payphone here too, since she never carries coins. They confirm it with the cashier, and Seol-ok further deduces that the person Ho-soon was waiting for never showed up.
Seol-ok posits that Ho-soon is close to this person, since she had their number memorized; if it had been written down somewhere, she’d have made her note on that paper rather than on the pamphlet. When Wan-seung wonders why Ho-soon never went back for her cell phone, Seol-ok says that she didn’t lose it, but threw it away—and now she’s in grave danger.
We see Ho-soon walking alone by the river again with that eerie music playing in the background, but this time, she turns around and smiles at the man following her, and he smiles back.
At the engagement venue, Ji-won wonders how Wan-seung managed to escape and asks a passing staff member about the meaning of the flowers she’s holding, recognizing them from the bouquet Wan-seung carried earlier. The staff member tells Ji-won that the flowers are proteas and represent gratitude, but they can also convey the giver’s sweet love. Ha.
At the airport, Wan-seung tries to convince Seol-ok that Ho-soon simply took off with the money she swindled, meeting up with her accomplice and ditching her phone so she couldn’t be traced. Seol-ok asks why they didn’t just leave for the U.S. as planned then, and points out that Ho-soon actually cancelled her ticket, which doesn’t align with Wan-seung’s hypothesis that she simply pretended to leave.
No, says Seol-ok, she went all the way through immigration and to the gate, which means she was intending to get on the plane. “She changed her mind after buying lipstick,” says Seol-ok.
Wan-seung asks what she means, and Seol-ok tells him that since Ho-soon had money, she went to the duty-free shop before her flight, but she bought only one lipstick—unheard of for a shopping addict like Ho-soon, especially since everything is on sale right now. She received a call when she was paying, says Seol-ok, and she shows Wan-seung the last entry on Ho-soon’s call log.
It’s an Incheon number (near the airport), and Wan-seung calls, but there’s no answer. Seol-ok says that it was a pay phone—we see Ho-soon’s mysterious friend calling from a phone booth near the water—and that only one thing could stop her from shopping. “A threat?” asks Wan-seung. Seol-ok gives him a look. “No, of course not. That’s what I thought too,” Wan-seung awkwardly. Hee.
Ji-won watches guests arrive for the engagement, looking displeased, when a coworker, Lawyer Jung, joins her. He says that marrying Wan-seung won’t guarantee her control over Ha & Jung, because half of the firm belongs to the males of the Jung family, and once he takes over, Ji-won will be gone. She mockingly tells him that if she takes over, he can stay, since no one else would hire him.
She starts to leave, but Lawyer Jung calls after her that Wan-seung is still searching for “that woman.” Ji-won coolly tells him it doesn’t bother her since they’re not marrying for love anyway, but her facial expression tells another story.
Seol-ok tells Wan-seung that only a man could have caused Ho-soon to abandon everything like this; she’s being manipulated, and by a pro, because Ho-soon on her own is too clumsy to fool Seol-ok. She says it’s a common dating scam: single women disappear from airports after gathering a large amount of money from those around them, having been persuaded by these con men. In this case, she says, the fact that he called her to another location means that he plans to murder Ho-soon to cover his tracks.
Despite his doubts, Wan-seung is willing to help her find Ho-soon, but Seol-ok says that she doesn’t need him—right now she needs an expert profiler named Inspector Woo. Wan-seung blinks, and she points to a TV screen on the wall, where Inspector Woo is featured in a perfume ad, holding the bottle like a gun.
Mocking Inspector Woo’s stance, Wan-seung says that he studied profiling at the academy too, and dismisses the man as a charlatan who’s humiliated the police force. But Seol-ok says he’s on another level and has cracked lots of cases, so she thanks Wan-seung for his help, but says that she has to go find Inspector Woo now. Wan-seung tells her not to be ridiculous and goes off on his spiel about catching criminals with blood, sweat, and legwork, only to turn around and find that she’s run away.
Kwang-tae and Dong-ki call Wan-seung and tell him that Jang Do-jang has been released. Wan-seung curses Ho-chul and tells them to arrest Jang again for attempted murder. He promises them that Seol-ok will testify and tells them to make sure Ho-chul doesn’t find out that she was the victim.
Wan-seung finds Seol-ok by tracing her location, and she gets into his car immediately and tells him to go to a recycling plant so that she can retrieve the VHS tapes she threw away a few days ago. He tries to tell her it’s already too late, but she doesn’t listen and ends up disappointed when he turns out to be right. Watching her with exasperation, he wonders how he’s going to convince her to testify while forcing a smile and a wave as she approaches.
A coldly disapproving CEO Ha leaves the engagement venue, and Ji-won changes out of her dress and orders a car so she can follow Wan-seung, whose approximate location she’s had traced. (Is everyone a stalker in this drama?)
Seol-ok goes back to Kyung-mi’s shop and wails that she’d be able to find the culprit if only she had her old tapes and berates her friend for not stopping her. Kyung-mi points out that she tried, but Seol-ok always does what she wants. Kyung-mi says she did what she wanted this time too, and points under the counter, where she’s saved all of Seol-ok’s detective paraphernalia. Seol-ok squeals and tells Kyung-mi that she loves her.
Having been relegated to waiting outside, Wan-seung tells himself that now is no time to think about his pride while he tries to wait patiently. He spots Earnest Cop’s cruiser passing by and almost calls out to him before turning away in embarrassment over his outfit, not realizing that Earnest Cop saw him too.
Ji-won soon arrives at the substation, and when she asks if they know where Wan-seung is, Earnest Cop tells her that he just saw him at the lunchbox shop nearby. He says Wan-seung is close with “Teacher Yoo,” whom he describes as a beautiful woman, cute and sweet. Aww.
After watching an old episode of Inspector Woo’s true crime show, Seol-ok rushes out of Kyung-mi’s shop, headed to where she thinks the kidnapping will take place. Following her in his car, Wan-seung offers to give her a ride, calling her Madam, and she gets in. Ji-won just misses them when she arrives at the shop, and spotting Kyung-mi through the window, she wonders if she’s the “cute and sweet” Teacher Yoo.
Wan-seung asks Seol-ok what the videotape had to do with Ho-soon and asks if he can help, adding that he might need her help someday too. Seol-ok tells him to be quiet, so he sighs and turns on some music, singing along with a water bottle as his mic. (It’s a beautiful song, but oh my God, why is this so funny?)
Seol-ok finds a “Min-woo” in Ho-soon’s contacts, but as she calls the number, the phone dies. She turns off the radio, snapping at Wan-seung for distracting her, and he loses his conciliatory manner too as he calls her mean. He says she’s overreacting to what is clearly an elopement, but at her insistence, he asks where she thinks Ho-soon might have gone.
Seol-ok shows him the pamphlet that Ho-soon left behind with one corner of the front page ripped off, but he doesn’t understand what she means until she uses eyeliner to color the paper behind it. She shows him the impression of the word Ho-soon had written on the front page: Oido Island, the place where she will be kidnapped.
Kwang-tae and Dong-ki find out that their chief revealed to Ho-chul that Seol-ok was Jang Do-jang’s victim, and they bicker over who will tell Wan-seung; maknae Dong-ki loses that argument and reluctantly makes the call. Wan-seung sees Seol-ok’s phone ringing with a call from Ho-chul, and panicking, he opens the car windows fully, yelling at the top of his lungs that he loves the ocean.
Seol-ok asks how he can be happy when Ho-soon is in danger, but Wan-seung says that they’ve practically solved the case before telling her to enjoy the cherry blossoms. He carefully slips her phone from her pocket and drops it beside her seat while she looks out the window and comments that soon, dead bodies will be discovered one by one as the weather warms up. Wan-seung enthusiastically agrees that there’s no place like the sea to hide corpses—it’s the best! Hahaha. These two are a match made in heaven.
Ho-chul wonders what’s going on with Seol-ok lately, as it’s unusual for her to ignore his calls. Wondering why she’s gotten involved with Wan-seung too, he calls Kyung-suk to say that he can’t reach Seol-ok, and she assures him that she’ll find out where she is.
Seol-ok and Wan-seung find a place at Oido Island where lovers often leave padlocks hanging to symbolize eternal love, and they find one with Ho-soon and Min-woo’s names on it. They find another by a famous lighthouse, and Seol-ok says that Ho-soon must be completely smitten and unaware of the danger she’s in. True to her hunch, we see Ho-soon walking happily along the boardwalk with Min-woo.
A couple near them considers a romantic boat ride or a bike ride on the seawall, and our crime-solving duo loudly point out to each other how many bodies have been found in each place, shuddering at how often corpses get dumped in the sea. The couple stares at them. (I’m dying.)
Ji-won shows up on Wan-seung’s porch, noting the sign on his front door that still says “Wan-seung ♥ Hyun-soo” and the clearly empty home. Her secretary sends her a picture of Wan-seung and Seol-ok at the lighthouse as well as their exact location, and she heads over there next.
Seol-ok and Wan-seung finally spot Ho-soon and Min-woo on a boardwalk, but seeing them about to get into a car and drive away, Seol-ok urgently tells Wan-seung to sing that song from earlier in the car—it’s Ho-soon’s favorite, and she’ll stop to listen, which will give Seol-ok a chance to catch her.
Wan-seung finds this ridiculous, but Seol-ok begs, promising that she’ll do anything he wants. He agrees, and the band (who already think he’s the singer they were waiting for) strike up Lee Juck’s “Lie Lie Lie.”
Wan-seung begins to sing, and Seol-ok darts off in pursuit of Ho-soon, who has turned to listen. As he sings the chorus, Wan-sung becomes emotional and a tear falls down his cheek. He stops singing, and Ho-soon turns around and gets in Min-woo’s car. Seol-ok is left grasping desperately at the air as they drive away.
The music continues but Wan-seung is silent as he remembers Hyun-soo battered and bloody on the floor. He also remembers picking her up and walking through the night with her broken body in his arms. The chorus rings in his ears:
I waited for you endlessly,
I trusted all your words.
The cold wind froze the streets,
I have frozen over too.
In the car afterward, Seol-ok is upset at Wan-seung for stopping, thinking he forgot the lyrics. He says that he’ll find Ho-soon, but she asks why he didn’t just hum if he couldn’t remember the words—is he that dumb? He tells her to stop it since he’s put up with a lot already, but she calls him an idiot. Wan-seung pulls over and tells her to get out.
She refuses and locks her door when he tries to forcibly remove her, saying there are no taxis or buses here, and if she hitches a ride she might end up becoming the victim of a serial killer. He tells her to take this car then, and he’ll take his chances with a serial killer, but she grabs his jacket and says that she can’t drive. He says smugly that she needs him desperately, but this offends her enough for her to say that she’ll just call a cab after all.
Wan-seung reminds her urgently of a taxi serial killer case and apologizes, hurrying back to the driver’s seat (although he doesn’t forget to point out that she’s in his debt). As they drive off, he gently teases her for being unable to drive, and Seol-ok flashes back to her father, collapsed unconscious on his steering wheel. Oh man, did she find him dead in his car? She looks away from Wan-seung and says that it’s because she’s a prosecutor’s wife.
Ji-won calls Wan-seung, and he answers irritably, giving her a cursory apology for today. She tells him she’s nearby and that she’s reported her car stolen, but at that moment, Seol-ok spots Min-woo’s car ahead, and Wan-seung hangs up on Ji-won to give chase. He leaves the road when he sees a police checkpoint up ahead and tells Seol-ok to get out and run; this is a stolen—er, borrowed—car, and they have to leave it behind. He drags a protesting Seol-ok away.
Seol-ok complains that he’s lost their quarry despite all his bragging and blames herself for trusting the word of an idiot like him. To Wan-seung’s annoyance, she begins to ask random passersby for a ride. They still have a distance to go and end up on a tandem bike (which Wan-seung wrested from a disgruntled couple, ha), bickering as they go.
Next we see them, they’re on the side of the road trying to hail a ride, each blaming the other for the bike breaking down. Seol-ok asks him why he kept following her when she told him repeatedly that she didn’t need his help, and he bows his head. She says she never should have trusted him about the bike, but he assures her that he can fix it.
Kyung-suk shows up at Kyung-mi’s shop to look for Seol-ok, but Kyung-mi cleverly turns the situation around, complaining to Seol-ok’s mother-in-law that her friend is always taking off without notice to take care of her family—even today, Seol-ok disappeared after a phone call from Ho-soon. Kyung-suk apologizes.
Seol-ok and Wan-seung are able to find a pickup truck to take them the rest of the way, and she thanks him before quickly changing the subject to him being a good singer. Wan-seung says that his dream was originally to be a musical actor, and he thinks back to playing his guitar for a smiling Hyun-soo. She asks why he became a cop instead, and he replies, “It seemed cool.”
Finally finding her abandoned car, Ji-won discovers Seol-ok’s phone ringing inside, and answers a call from Ho-chul.
Seol-ok and Wan-seung reach the harbor Ho-soon and Min-woo were headed for, but the couple is nowhere to be found. Wan-seung suggests going to a passenger boat terminal, since there are lots of small islands nearby. This reminds Seol-ok of something Inspector Woo said on the tape she watched earlier, and she says that she knows who the culprit is. An eerie whistling starts as she says, “The kidnapper is No Doo-gil.”
Somewhere near the ocean, a man turns on a radio, which plays an upbeat swing tune. He walks past a makeshift shelter and works at digging a hole with a pickax. Ho-soon lies near him, unconscious.
I wasn’t sure where the show was going with Ho-soon’s kidnapping storyline, but I absolutely loved the structure of this episode, with Seol-ok charging ahead in her investigation, always one step behind Ho-soon, and our Drug Sniffing Dog loyally (if reluctantly) following at her heels. Seol-ok and Wan-seung have settled into a comfortable, playfully antagonistic partnership at this point, at it gives me endless enjoyment to watch them play off each other even when nothing significant is happening. It’s clear that they drive each other nuts, like when Seol-ok presents each of her discoveries bit by bit to Wan-seung as if giving him puzzles to solve when all he wants is to hear her conclusions. Or her exasperation with his single-minded, forceful approach to his goals, which is so different from her method of following where each clue leads her, even if it ends up taking her on a meandering path.
Despite their differences, however, it’s clear that they trust and respect each other, and even though Seol-ok was baffled by Wan-seung’s insistent “help” during this episode, she ultimately relied on him and took a lot of his input into consideration. I was cracking up so hard when they were riding the tandem bike together, him barking “Left foot! Left foot!” like a military captain, and her doing her best to pedal along despite her irritated comments. I was annoyed with the way he constantly manhandled her in earlier episodes, but it seems she’s decided to do the same to him, and they’re starting to give me the vibe of old friends who constantly bicker but hold a lot of affection for each other, belying their short acquaintance.
They also really listen to each other even when they seem dismissive of each other; an example is when Seol-ok told Wan-seung to sing “Lie, Lie, Lie,” showing that she noticed his skill at singing despite having told him to be quiet earlier. It was an apt and moving use of music that wonderfully underscored the climax of the episode, with Seol-ok desperately trying to save a family member from danger and Wan-seung remembering his inability to save the girl he loved years ago. (Lee Juck originally wrote the song from the perspective of a child abandoned by his mother at an amusement park, faithfully waiting for her promised return. It’s a gorgeous lament about the realization that one’s awaited loved one is never coming back.) It was a heartbreaking moment, and I’m looking forward to the point in their relationship when they become true friends and confide their painful pasts to each other and discover how much they truly have in common. For now, although they have come to trust each other professionally, they’re understandably reluctant to expose such vulnerable secrets about themselves.
I found a lot of amusement in the fact that Seol-ok and Wan-seung spent the entire episode going from one romantic location to another doing all the things couples normally do, all while being constantly irritated with each other and talking about dead bodies and serial killers. They perfectly encapsulate one of the things I love most about every successful Sherlock Holmes adaptation: the comically begrudging yet exactly complimentary dynamic of two partners that fill in what the other lacks to create a single crime-solving unit. The fact that their escapades are clearly being interpreted as dates by Ji-won (and likely soon by Ho-chul, once Ji-won spills the beans) is hilarious, but it also creates a new obstacle for Seol-ok’s crime-solving career.
I hope that the misunderstanding continues to be humorous and doesn’t turn melodramatic, however, and that if Seol-ok does break up with Ho-chul at some point, it’s because she’s no longer happy with who he is and how he treats her and not due to an imagined affair. The latter would be an unfortunate return to tired tropes that this show has done so well at avoiding or subverting so far; what I want the most for Seol-ok during the course of this drama is for her to spread her wings and find a place to be herself, whether that’s in her marriage or after it—as buddies with Wan-seung, or something more.
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