Mystery Queen: Episode 14
Although Seol-ok remains everlastingly loyal to her family, the same can’t be said for her husband, who just gets shadier and shadier by the minute. Thankfully, while Seol-ok’s husband has never been on her side, Seol-ok has a much more trustworthy man by her side — one who’s there to pull her up instead of pushing her down.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Arriving at the senior center, Wan-seung complains to Seol-ok for not directly revealing the culprit. Seol-ok dismisses him, saying that she only needed Joon-oh to come with her, and Wan-seung quickly adds that he can’t just send Joon-oh off alone when the youngster knows so little. Ha.
Wan-seung then notices Seol-ok’s basket of bottles and freaks out, thinking that she somehow stole the evidence from the crime scene, but Seol-ok corrects him and tells him that the bottles are brand new. Inside the senior center, Seol-ok tells the elderly ladies that she plans to use these bottles to explain how the crime happened, hoping that this would then elicit a confession from the culprit to make the evidence 100% foolproof.
Seol-ok turns to Mrs. Kim first and deduces that she was the one to inform the regional office of Mrs. Go’s embezzlement. Mrs. Kim doesn’t deny it, but she insists that she wasn’t the one to put the pesticide in Mrs. Go’s drink. Seol-ok then asks Mrs. Lee if she planned on drinking Mrs. Go’s red ginseng drink the day Mrs. Go collapsed.
Seol-ok suggests that Mrs. Lee probably felt uneasy with her plan to drink Mrs. Go’s red ginseng because she was afraid that she would get caught by Mrs. Go like last time. Given that Mrs. Go’s red ginseng drink and Mrs. Lee’s apricot drink were the same color, Mrs. Lee probably switched the nametags on the drinks so that she wouldn’t be caught, says Seol-ok. That’s why Mrs. Lee’s fingerprints were found on Mrs. Go’s drink.
Wan-seung steps out to take a call from Ji-won, who tells him that she’s meeting with Jang Do-jang in a parking lot, alone. (Sounds like a bad idea already.) She tells Wan-seung that she doesn’t want him to come because Jang might run away, and Wan-seung warns her that Jang is especially dangerous because he’s feeling cornered right now.
Ji-won acknowledges that fact, but she refuses to back out. She sees a car on the other side of the parking lot and tells Wan-seung that she’ll call him later before hanging up on him.
She heads towards the car, trying to get a good look at the driver. The car’s headlights suddenly flash, and Ji-won realizes that the person in the car is after her — no one’s here to meet with her. She makes a run for it, but it’s not long before she gets cornered by the car. In his own car, Wan-seung calls her phone, worried when there’s no response.
Meanwhile, at the senior center, Mrs. Lee confesses that she did switch the nametags at first, but then switched them back after lunch because she was worried that Mrs. Go would drink the apricot drink and realize what happened. Seol-ok wonders aloud why there was pesticide found on Mrs. Lee’s nametag, and Mrs. Lee insists again that she’s innocent.
Seol-ok clarifies the happenings of that day, explaining that everything started with Mrs. Lee switching the nametags. Then, while everyone had been out to lunch, the culprit had used Kyung-suk’s gardening gloves and poured Kyung-suk’s pesticide into the apricot drink — that is, the culprit had been targeting Mrs. Lee’s apricot drink, and not Mrs. Go’s red ginseng drink.
When Seol-ok accuses Mrs. Song of being the culprit, Mrs. Song immediately denies it. Seol-ok points out that the usually mild-mannered woman is raising her voice and sweating an awful lot — two signs indicating that she’s lying. Seol-ok adds that Mrs. Song’s sweat can be found on Kyung-suk’s gloves through DNA testing, and Mrs. Song finally gives in and confesses to the crime.
In the meantime, Wan-seung drives through the parking lot that Ji-won had been at earlier. He can’t find her, but his phone starts to ring.
At the senior center, Mrs. Song explains that she had been extremely grateful to Mrs. Kim for paying her fees, but Mrs. Lee’s condescending words about Mrs. Song’s servility had been too much to bear. Mrs. Song cries that she only wanted to give Mrs. Lee a good scare — she had no idea that Mrs. Go would drink it and end up hospitalized.
Outside, Seol-ok asks Mrs. Song why she tried to frame Kyung-suk of all people, wondering if there were any problems between the two women. Mrs. Song denies it and says sadly that she was envious that Kyung-suk had such an attentive daughter-in-law.
Teary-eyed, Seol-ok sees the harsh metal handcuffs on Mrs. Song’s wrists, and she takes her scarf off to cover them up, helping Mrs. Song hide her shame of being a criminal. Mrs. Song cries, both in gratitude and regret, apologizing for her crime over and over again.
At a hospital, Ji-won stares blankly into space as her arm lies in a cast. Wan-seung comes running into the room, asking if Jang Do-jang did this to her, and Ji-won just jokes that Wan-seung is making her heart flutter with his concern for her. She notes that Jang probably didn’t intend to kill her — it was more likely a warning than anything else.
Wan-seung asks what it was a warning for, and Ji-won tells him that she can’t tell him anymore than that. She asks Wan-seung to take her to her office, given that her arm is in this state, and adds that she has something to give Wan-seung too.
At home, Kyung-suk motions for Seol-ok to sit next to her and unexpectedly urges her to reveal the truth about her parents’ case. Kyung-suk tells Seol-ok that her recent experience with being framed helped her understand how wronged Seol-ok’s parents must feel, even from the afterlife — if Seol-ok’s father was indeed wrongfully framed, then Seol-ok should clear his name.
Shedding tears of gratitude, Seol-ok clasps Kyung-suk’s hands into hers, and they share a rare heartfelt moment. From the side, Ho-soon wonders sarcastically what happened to the Kyung-suk who was just about to kick Seol-ok out a few days earlier. Ho-soon makes her way to the door, and noticing Seol-ok’s pretty new umbrella, decides to take it out for herself.
At Ji-won’s office, Wan-seung notices that she has all her things packed, and Ji-won explains that she’s getting pushed out by her brother. Wan-seung apologizes, noting that she would’ve been able to win over her brother if he had married her, and Ji-won takes it in stride.
Unlocking a safe, Ji-won hands Wan-seung a file of papers and tells him that it’s her last gift to him: the file will reveal Hyun-soo’s murderer. Wan-seung grabs the papers and sees that it’s the Shinimdong taxi driver case — the very case that Seol-ok had asked him to investigate.
The papers reveal a handwritten letter from the taxi driver, Seol-ok’s father, who had confessed that he murdered a female passenger in his taxi seven years prior. In the letter, Seol-ok’s father explains that he hung rocks on the woman’s body to prevent it from floating, and subsequently threw her in the ocean.
He had tried to hide it until the statute of limitations expired, but his wife had found out, and consumed with guilt, the couple had committed suicide. Wan-seung angrily flings the papers to the floor, asking Ji-won if she expects him to believe that Hyun-soo was murdered by a random taxicab driver.
He recalls that the day Hyun-soo had disappeared, he had received a phone call from a taxi driver notifying him of Hyun-soo’s lost phone. Wan-seung thinks that that if the taxi driver had truly been the murderer, there would’ve been no way that the driver would’ve called him.
He asks Ji-won where she got this case file, demanding to know what she’s trying to plan now. Caught, Ji-won tells Wan-seung that everything was plotted out from the beginning. She pleads with him to stop digging. “If you can’t understand it, then memorize it,” Ji-won says, “The person who killed Seo Hyun-soo was the taxi driver.” Wan-seung screams that Hyun-soo’s not dead.
At Seol-ok’s house, Seol-ok opens up her precious umbrella, only to realize that Ho-soon had broken it earlier. Dejected, Seol-ok takes her umbrella to the store and asks for a repair. The saleswoman informs her that because the umbrella was a free gift that came with the dress, it would be difficult to get a repair, and Seol-ok stares suspiciously at the dress, wondering where it went.
Kwang-tae and Kyung-mi are flirting away at the lunchbox store, sharing a kiss-ably close moment just before Seol-ok passes by. Seol-ok grins to see that things are going well for her friend, but she’s clearly feeling a little downcast otherwise — thinking that it’s because the umbrella was broken, Kyung-mi reassures Seol-ok that she’ll be able to get it fixed because it’s a brand-name product.
Wan-seung meets with Detective Go, the detective who had been in charge of Seol-ok’s parents’ case a decade ago, and brings up the Shinimdong taxi driver case. When Detective Go tries to weasel out of it by saying that he doesn’t have any information, Wan-seung just takes the file and thrusts it in front of Detective Go.
At home, Seol-ok observes Ho-chul with a dejected expression and considers confronting him about the dress. Ho-chul notices, and wonders aloud if she’s feeling down because of the broken umbrella — he comments offhandedly that it’s a pity the umbrella broke because it would’ve looked nice with the dress.
Seol-ok looks up in surprise, and Ho-chul continues that he must’ve forgotten to tell her — the deliveryman made a mistake and the rest of the package ended up at his office instead. Ho-chul adds that he wanted to make up for missing their anniversary by buying Seol-ok an expensive dress, and Seol-ok is totally relieved, thinking that she was just jumping to conclusions. (UGH.)
Little does she know, Ho-chul had immediately ran to the store when Ho-soon had told him that she broke Seol-ok’s umbrella and that Seol-ok had tried to get it fixed. There, he had bought another dress in the exact same design in order to fool Seol-ok into thinking that he had bought the dress for her the first time around.
In his room, Wan-seung reads the file over again, still thinking over the part where Seol-ok’s father confesses that he only planned to steal from Hyun-soo, but ended up killing her. At the café, Detective Go had finally revealed to him the details of the case: There had been no evidence of murder and no fingerprints, and the handwriting had been analyzed by four different groups — all of them confirmed that the letter was written by Seol-ok’s father.
Detective Go had told Wan-seung that he’s 99.9% sure that Seol-ok’s parents weren’t murdered, and Wan-seung had commented that it’s not 100%. That had gotten Detective Go fired up, recalling how the taxi driver’s daughter had come to the station every day to argue about that 100% certainty.
Wan-seung’s thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of CEO Ha and his secretary, who are here to check up on Wan-seung after he promised to come home every day. CEO Ha tells Wan-seung that he wants him to come to a formal event for couples in the legal field, and Wan-seung reminds his father that he has no interest in inheriting Ha & Jung.
CEO Ha snaps, “If it weren’t for Ha & Jung, you would’ve already–…” but trails off mid-sentence. Wan-seung catches it, and asks boldly, “Already what? Why? Is someone targeting me?” CEO Ha doesn’t answer the question and looks away, heaving a frustrated sigh at his wayward son.
The secretary leaves the invitation on Wan-seung’s desk, and Wan-seung moves quickly to flip the file he had left lying on the desk, hoping that the secretary didn’t see what he was investigating.
At home, Seol-ok finds the same invitation on the floor by her nightstand and wonders why Ho-chul didn’t tell her that the important gathering he was going to was for couples. She tries to recall if Ho-chul did in fact tell her, and realizes that the event is that very evening.
Seol-ok gets ready in a rush, and Kyung-suk comments that this must be why Ho-chul got her the umbrella and dress. Seol-ok even goes to the salon to get her hair done, and excitedly tells her mother-in-law that she’ll be home soon.
In his car, Wan-seung is still deep in thought about the Shinimdong Taxi Driver Case when he drives by the dolled-up Seol-ok trying to catch a cab. He reverses the car and pulls up to her, and Seol-ok asks cutely if she looks pretty today. Wan-seung just comments that she must’ve spent a lot of money before offering to take her to her event.
Wan-seung suggests to Seol-ok that it’s possible that her father wasn’t murdered, and Seol-ok denies it, sure that her father didn’t commit suicide. Wan-seung tries to tell her that too much time has passed to reveal the truth, and Seol-ok brings up the fact that Wan-seung is still looking for someone from seventeen years ago.
He looks at her in surprise and asks her how she knows about that, and she tells him that she saw a play poster on his phone. Thinking back to when Wan-seung had told her his dream once was to be a musical actor, she tells Wan-seung that she had been curious about what kind of person he was, but now she feels like she knows a little more about him.
Wan-seung sighs and comments that Seol-ok probably wouldn’t stop digging at the Shinimdong Taxi Driver case, even if he tried to stop her. Seol-ok agrees, and Wan-seung warns her that it’s dangerous — he offers to find the culprit for her instead. Seol-ok refuses, arguing that she doesn’t want him to get hurt because of her either, and recalls how Wan-seung’s arm had been dripping in blood when he saved her from Jang Do-jang.
Wan-seung tells Seol-ok that she’s not allowed to search for the culprit alone and demands that they look for the murderer together. Seol-ok looks over to him, touched by his offer.
They pull up to the event, and inside the car, Wan-seung tells Seol-ok that she’s definitely the prettiest person there, causing Seol-ok to ask if he’s serious. He laughs it off and says of course he’s not — he was just saying it to be polite. Seol-ok points out that he’s not really the type to be polite. Ha.
She takes her leave and heads into the event by herself, while Wan-seung sits in his car for a bit. He scoffs to see Ho-chul driving in, complaining that the prosecutor didn’t even drive his own wife to the event, before realizing that the situation is even worse — Ho-chul is with his girlfriend. Wan-seung tries to remind himself not to butt into other people’s business, but he seems to be failing.
Seol-ok walks inside to the event and stares in awe at the fancy décor. She picks up a call from Wan-seung, who urges her to get out immediately, but before Wan-seung can tell her about Ho-chul, she hangs up, telling him not to curse at her husband again. She sees Ho-chul from afar and tries to get his attention — until she spots the woman next to him, hanging onto his arm, dressed in the same dress.
Seol-ok immediately runs to hide behind the curtains, hoping that no one will see her, but Ho-chul’s already caught a glimpse of her. Seol-ok peeks out from behind the curtains, and Ho-chul stares pathetically at her. Shriveling up in embarrassment, Seol-ok wraps the curtains tightly around herself, turning, and turning, and turning — that is, until she trips and falls.
Now, everyone is staring at her, and the only thing Seol-ok can do is cover her face as she runs out of the event hall. She runs into Wan-seung at the door, and he immediately chases after her. When he finally catches up to her, she just turns to him and croaks through her tears that she’s embarrassed.
Ho-chul manages to find Seol-ok too, and as he begs her to listen to his explanation, Wan-seung sweetly takes his coat and puts it on Seol-ok’s shoulders. Seol-ok just glares at Ho-chul, and Wan-seung dismisses him, telling him that he ought to go and attend to his girlfriend.
Ho-chul tries calling Seol-ok, explaining that the girl was just an “acquaintance” he went with to expand his network in the legal field — that’s why he gifted her the dress in the first place. He adds that the dress was so pretty that he wanted to buy one for Seol-ok too, but before he can finish his apology voicemail, he’s interrupted by CEO Ha’s secretary, who tells him that CEO Ha wishes to have a talk with him.
In the car, Seol-ok listens to Ho-chul’s voicemail message, but she isn’t buying any of his lies this time. Wan-seung jokes that he just saved her life a third time — from dying of embarrassment — and he tells her that she needs to get out of her funk. He takes her to a bar to drink away her sorrows, and the two of them joke the night away over a ton of alcohol.
Ho-chul meets with CEO Ha, who greets him amicably and commends him for doing so well at the Central Prosecution Office. CEO Ha’s tone quickly turns dark, though, when he asks why Ho-chul is digging up the Shinimdong Taxi Driver Case again — didn’t they agree that Ho-chul would wrap it up nicely and close the case? Ho-chul just nervously tries to tamp down his fear.
A tipsy Seol-ok makes her way home and wonders if she should just kill Ho-chul when she gets home. Wan-seung agrees, but adds that he’s envious that she can at least get mad at him — he can’t even get mad at Hyun-soo because she’s not around anymore. Seol-ok wonders why Wan-seung is so caught up on a girl from seventeen years ago, and he says he has no other choice.
Changing topics, Seol-ok tells Wan-seung that hearing “ajumma” from him all the time makes it sound like her own name now, and Wan-seung tells her that she’s fallen for his charm, reminding her that he warned her how dangerously attractive he was. This time, Seol-ok laughs and agrees that she has indeed.
Suddenly, Wan-seung gets a call, and he walks to the side to take it, telling Seol-ok that it’s from his mom. In reality, it’s a desperate Jang Do-jang confessing to every crime that Wan-seung tried to catch him for, even going so far as to tell Wan-seung that he did kidnap Hyun-soo all those years ago on Chief Kim’s order. But, he denies being the person who murdered her.
Jang explains that he’d rather rot in jail than die, and he pleads with Wan-seung to save him, explaining that there’s no one else he can trust; he urges Wan-seung not to trust anyone either. Pretending that everything is fine, Wan-seung walks back to Seol-ok and apologizes to her, saying that he can’t give her a ride after all.
In the car, Wan-seung receives a text from Jang telling him that the location has changed, adding a reminder to come alone. Wan-seung wonders why he’s getting an uneasy feeling from all of this.
Seol-ok returns to a darkened home, where Ho-chul waits for her. He asks if she’s been with Wan-seung this whole time, and Seol-ok retorts: “Then who were you with?” Seol-ok tells Ho-chul that she’s heard all he’s had to say about the “misunderstanding,” but Ho-chul tells her that he needs to tell her something more important.
He asks her to stop digging into her father’s case on her own, trying to explain that he doesn’t have enough power at the moment to do anything about it, but Seol-ok shoots back that he’s been saying the same thing for so many years now.
Ho-chul yells at her to just let it go, pointing out that her father won’t come back from the dead just because she tells the truth. Seol-ok immediately hands him the dress that he gifted her, telling him that as expected, the dress didn’t suit her.
He tries to tell her that he only wants her to stop digging because it’s dangerous, but hurt, Seol-ok tells him that there are other people who offered to do it together because it’s dangerous — and he’s not even related to her! Crying, Seol-ok walks resolutely out of her house.
Wan-seung arrives at an abandoned neighborhood, and he readies a small gun when he gets out of his car, preparing for the worst-case scenario. From afar, he sees a car with its headlights still on, and he calls out to Jang Do-jang.
As Wan-seung approaches the car, though, he sees a man crumpled on the floor, and Wan-seung flips him over. It’s Jang Do-jang, with a large knife sticking right out of his chest, and Wan-seung backs away slowly. He looks at the blood on his hand, and that’s when he hears the police cars pulling up.
It’s Detective Go’s squad, and Wan-seung calls out to them. Detective Go takes one look at the scene and asks Wan-seung if he killed Jang Do-jang. Without a trace of emotion for his friend, Detective Go coldly tells his squad: “Arrest him.”
I had been holding onto the hope that Ho-chul had his reasons for hiding his marriage to Seol-ok; despite his spinelessness as a prosecutor, I had expected that he would be a faithful husband given how smitten he had been with Seol-ok when he first met her. Well, those dreams were kicked right out the door this week, as he sunk lower and lower with each misstep, finally digging his own grave with that comment about Seol-ok’s father not being able to come back from the dead anyway. When Ho-chul tried to tell Seol-ok how dangerous digging up her father’s case would be, I was so proud of Seol-ok for pointing out that there are other people who also worry about her safety, but who do so without being patronizing. Wan-seung recognizes that Seol-ok will make the decision for herself, whether or not he tries to stop her — the only way to truly protect her is to be by her side throughout the ordeal, not to prevent her from going through it.
It was also pretty heartbreaking to watch Seol-ok get excited every time her husband showed her the least bit of affection when we viewers knew that all the “affection” was just Ho-chul being smart and covering up his tracks. Even though I could feel the pain of Seol-ok’s embarrassment at the event hall, I was just glad that the whole situation broke her rose-colored view of Ho-chul and that she finally recognized him for the cowardly jerk he is. In a way, I imagine that the proof of his infidelity will actually soften the blow for Seol-ok when she realizes that Ho-chul was partially responsible for covering up her father’s case (I don’t know how involved he could’ve been when the initial cover-up happened, considering Ho-chul’s age, but we do know for sure that he’s involved in a later cover-up that probably helped him get promoted). At least then, Seol-ok won’t be torn thinking that Ho-chul was a faithful husband but an unjust prosecutor — now she can divorce him in peace knowing that he’s both a cheater and a corrupt authority figure.
The only aspect of their marriage that I’m still holding onto is Seol-ok’s connection with Kyung-suk and Ho-soon. I know that they mistreat her practically all the time and that they’re spoiled and selfish, but unlike Ho-chul, they at least seem to genuinely care about Seol-ok. While I thought the senior center crime case was a bit of a detour in the trajectory of the general narrative, it at least had some use because it convinced Kyung-suk to actively encourage Seol-ok to find the truth behind her father’s death. Rather than being stuck on how she had been wrongfully accused in poisoning Mrs. Go — which is what we might expect from someone as self-centered as Kyung-suk — Seol-ok’s mother-in-law actually used that experience to sympathize with Seol-ok. It’s almost like she’s matured a bit.
At this point, however, I can’t say I expect much for the well-being of Seol-ok’s family, and I hope Seol-ok doesn’t feel pressured to stay with Ho-chul for the sake of the family peace. It’s time she’s finally given the chance to free herself from their demands, and for them to realize how much they took her for granted. Besides, it’s inevitable that Seol-ok’s attempt to reveal the truth about her father will end up hurting Ho-chul’s corrupt career. Hopefully, she realizes that she’s got a whole new family in the form of her Special Unit Seven friends. She knows that they, and especially Wan-seung, have her back, but the only issue now is whether Wan-seung will be able to protect her when he himself is in danger of being wrongfully accused — will Seol-ok have to be the one to rescue him this time around?
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