Circle: Episode 10
I’m always blown away by the pace of this show — there’s barely any lag, and answers come almost as quickly as you can think of the questions. It’s a rare show that both outsmarts its viewers and respects their intelligence. And while we work our brains to keep up with the show, Circle repeatedly brings us back to the heart of its conceit: Who are we without our memories?
EPISODE 10 RECAP
It’s 2008, and Kim Kyu-chul comes home late one night, much to his mother’s surprise. Looking harried, he hands his mother something and tells her not to give it to anyone but him.
He promises to come back again, and with one last solemn look, he hurries away from his home. His mother calls after him, then looks down at the wooden cross in her hand — it’s the pen drive Kim Kyu-chul used to store his research.
Part 1: Beta Project
Jung-yeon and Woo-jin are stunned to find Woo-jin’s memories preserved as footage on the computer in his father’s old office. As they watch, the Byul in Little Woo-jin’s memory hands him a star-shaped device and tells him that with its help, he can see his mom from his own memories.
Jung-yeon wonders how she could have made such a thing while Woo-jin observes that anyone who discovers the existence of such technology would never be able to give up looking for it. With that scary thought in mind, the two turn to look at the screen again.
In his office, Professor Park spies on the duo using the secret CCTV camera and gasps at the significance of what he just learned. But in the parking lot of the university later, Professor Park is kidnapped and brought to a darkened warehouse by the corrupt Detective Choi. There, he’s tied to a chair and questioned about the location of Professor Han.
The shadowy man in charge stands with his back to the interrogation while a surprisingly nonplussed Professor Park looks around and guesses that the people holding him now are representatives of “Human B,” the shadowy foundation that funded Professor Han for many years.
The shadowy man is surprised by his gumption, but he make it clear that Professor Park in no position to be asking questions. Seeing the effort Human B put into finding Professor Han, Professor Park baldly declares that he’s trying to decide whether or not he should hand over his discovery to them in an attempt to make a deal.
Professor Park tells them about the system that stores memories as footage as a means of showing what he could bring to the table, but the man in charge scoffs at his claims of having found out how to make it work. Professor Park gains confidence as he points out how they failed in their attempts to mimic that technology, even going to the extent of killing students to make it work.
Feeling braver, Professor Park asks if Human B wants to keep hedging their bets on Professor Han, or if they’d like to join hands with him instead, since only he knows how to access the system.
The man in charge turns to face him and asks what he wants. Professor Park asks to be untied, pointing out that as the sole person to know the secrets of the technology, he can neither be killed nor harmed.
Later, as Professor Park stumbles down the road a free man, he recalls the man in charge telling him that they would be in touch. Sitting on the curb, Professor Park grins to himself: “Life sure has a funny way of working out.”
Woo-jin stands in the yard of his childhood home trying to come to terms with what he just learned. But just then, he gets a call from a hysterical Min-young saying that Bum-gyun can no longer recognize her. Trying but failing to calm Min-young down, Woo-jin just promises her that he’ll find a way to help his brother before heading back inside.
Sitting in a corner of the office, Jung-yeon wonders if she really was an alien and why she came here. She rallies when Woo-jin comes in, though he immediately sets to pulling external hard drives from his bag.
He tells Jung-yeon that even if he doesn’t know how to use this program to help his brother, he knows that he’s the key to making it work. For now, his intentions are to preserve his own memories, so that if there comes a day when Bum-gyun can no longer remember anything, Woo-jin can show Bum-gyun his own memory footage.
When they reach Min-young’s dad’s hospital, they walk in to find Bum-gyun’s room empty. Panicked, Woo-jin and Jung-yeon run all over the place looking for him, until they spot Bum-gyun cheerily waving at them from a bench in a nearby park. Bum-gyun hails Woo-jin, but then looks at Jung-yeon carefully.
Woo-jin moves in front of her protectively, but Bum-gyun just erupts in a wide grin as he guesses that whoever-she-is must be Woo-jin’s girlfriend. Bum-gyun introduces himself in an uncannily playful and carefree way as Woo-jin and Jung-yeon look at each other in surprised dismay.
Min-young approaches them with a bicycle, and at first, there seems to be a glimmer of hope when Bum-gyun hails Min-young by her name. But then Bum-gyun introduces her as the friendly daughter of the hospital’s director that he just met, explaining that Min-young asked him to teach her how to ride a bike. For her part, Min-young exchanges a glance with Woo-jin, quietly asking him to play along.
After an initial push, Min-young slowly pedals away under her own power. Bum-gyun observes that she’s quite good, but upon noticing Woo-jin’s distracted look, he slowly slides behind his brother. With a sly grin, he hits the back of Woo-jin’s knees with his own, only to run away laughing like the happiest kid in the world after Woo-jin stumbles in surprise.
Woo-jin watches his brother with an amazed smile on his face, which Jung-yeon notes uneasily.
Back inside the hospital, Woo-jin takes a seat next to Jung-yeon and asks if they should just stop now. “My brother is smiling,” Woo-jin says suddenly. “My brother was uneasy every day since Dad went missing, but… he’s smiling now.”
Looking at Jung-yeon directly, Woo-jin adds that Bum-gyun doesn’t remember her, so that means he doesn’t remember anything about aliens or their dad. Hopeful now, he asks Jung-yeon if they can’t just go away somewhere with Bum-gyun and start anew.
Having overheard that last part, Min-young rushes up to confront Woo-jin over what he just said. When Woo-jin confesses that he thinks Bum-gyun might be happier this way, Min-young asks if Bum-gyun ever said that he wanted to be rid of his memories (the implication being that Bum-gyun has no way to decide for himself). “Do you know your brother so little?” Min-young asks.
Woo-jin: “No, it’s because I know him that I’m saying this! My brother has been through so much already. After Dad disappeared, he was miserable for ten years. Why would I try to restore those bad memories?”
Min-young: “Because those memories are Bum-gyun! Bum-gyun is only Bum-gyun because he has Bum-gyun’s memories!”
Min-young asks how it can be all right for Bum-gyun to be happy without his memories, adding that Bum-gyun doesn’t even recognize her now, which means he might not recognize Woo-jin tomorrow.
In shocked disbelief, Min-young accuses Woo-jin of giving up in the face of the much harder task of recovering Bum-gyun’s memories. She turns to Jung-yeon and asks if she agrees with Woo-jin, clearly looking for an ally. Struggling with her own doubts about recovering old memories, Jung-yeon can only look at Min-young as she answers, “I… don’t know.”
Later, Jung-yeon comes to sit beside a sleeping Bum-gyun, wondering who she is now without her own past memories. “Bum-gyun-ah,” she thinks to herself, “I don’t know what the right answer is.”
Over the phone, Professor Park urges Lee Sunbae to place his trust in him and do as he says. After he hangs up, Professor Park gets a call from a restricted number — it’s the shadowy man from Human B, and he agrees to Park’s offer. Acting like he has the upper hand, Professor Park tells the shadowy man to do what must be done.
As if on cue, Chief Hong suddenly finds his access to the evidence room restricted. He punches the policeman blocking him from the room, but this only earns him a suspension from the section chief.
Woo-jin asks Min-young’s doctor father to remove the bug from Bum-gyun’s brain, but Dad says that it’s impossible to do without more information about how the worm works. Before Woo-jin can plead with him further, a group of men carrying the signature search-and-seizure blue boxes enter the office and seize the doctor’s personal and patient records, citing a likely trumped-up embezzlement charge.
Back in Bum-gyun’s room, a nurse comes in and tells Jung-yeon that they’ll be performing a few tests after he administers an injection. Jung-yeon points out that Bum-gyun is still sleeping, but this only nets a reassuring smile from the nurse, who proceeds to inject the drug anyway.
Chief Hong arrives at the hospital while the search and seizure is going on. As he speaks to Woo-jin, Min-young runs to them and says that the men are also taking all the patient records, including Bum-gyun’s. Chief Hong is instantly suspicious, since an investigation of embezzlement would have nothing to do with a patient’s test results.
He wonders aloud if someone is trying to get rid of the evidence at the hospital just like they did at the police station. At Woo-jin and Min-young’s panicked expressions, Chief Hong tells them about being suspended, and how no one at his station even bothered looking into the corrupt Detective Choi.
The nurse tells Jung-yeon that he’s taking Bum-gyun out for an MRI. It’s only after he’s wheeled out Bum-gyun that Jung-yeon remembers that MRIs can’t be performed on patients with metal in their body, meaning that Bum-gyun should be excluded because of the chipped bug in his brain.
Jung-yeon runs out into the corridor and finds the nurse waiting with the stretcher by the elevators. This time, she notices his suit pants and shoes sticking out of his scrubs, which raises a lot of red flags. She hides just out of sight and calls Woo-jin.
Chief Hong tells Woo-jin and Min-young that “they” might try to target Bum-gyun, since he’s the most decisive piece of evidence. Just then, Woo-jin gets Jung-yeon’s call, and she tells him that the fake nurse has Bum-gyun and is waiting by the tenth floor elevator with the down button pressed.
Woo-jin and the others run down the stairs, racing to reach the basement parking lot before the fake nurse does. When he wheels Bum-gyun out of the elevator, there is already an ambulance and another fake nurse waiting to transfer Bum-gyun inside.
Suddenly, compressed air hits them in the face as Woo-jin and Chief Hong emerge from around the ambulance wielding fire extinguishers. As the fake nurses cough out their lungs, Woo-jin and Min-young push the gurney away as Chief Hong runs ahead to bring out his own car for their getaway.
Before they can get Bum-gyun inside, the fake nurses come running and try to get hold of the gurney. Min-young throws herself at one of the men while Chief Hong throws himself at the other, and thinking fast, Woo-jin picks Bum-gyun up and hurriedly places him in the backseat. As Jung-yeon comes running, Chief Hong tells her to take the wheel and drive while he and Min-young hold the abductor nurses at bay.
They get away in the car, and Professor Park has a tantrum about it on the phone. Changing tactics, he directs his new ally to leave them be for now.
Once they’re parked elsewhere, Woo-jin becomes worried that Bum-gyun’s waking up. Jung-yeon tells him that he’s been sedated, but Woo-jin can’t help but panic as he looks at Bum-gyun’s still form.
Jung-yeon takes Woo-jin’s face in her hands and steadies him by reminding him that they have to stay calm and protect Bum-gyun: “You’re all he has, after all.” He nods and slowly clasps her hands in his, drawing her hands away.
Woo-jin gets a call from Professor Park, who lies that he just barely managed to escape after being kidnapped by Professor Han. He warns Woo-jin that Han might be after Bum-gyun and asks to meet with him right away.
When Woo-jin arrives on a street alone to meet Professor Park, he notices his professor’s hand trembling. Park gets tearful as he apologizes to Woo-jin and lies that Professor Han had forced him to meet with and convince Woo-jin of something. He tells Woo-jin that more than Professor Han, he’s scared of the people behind him — the mysterious Human B, which has been funding a search for Byul’s technology for years.
Woo-jin asks if Professor Han wants his dad’s research, but Professor Park says that Han has given up on that. Instead, he says only that Professor Han wants to continue his research on Byul with Woo-jin, as he had done with his father, Kim Kyu-chul, before. Professor Park tries to convince him that that’s the only way Bum-gyun can regain his memories.
Woo-jin understands that what this really means is that he’s being told to bring Bum-gyun and Jung-yeon to Professor Han. Professor Park adds a final threat “from Professor Han:” Woo-jin has nowhere to run to anymore.
As Professor Park examines Woo-jin’s face with fake concern, Woo-jin relents and asks for just one more day. Agreeing to convey that message to Professor Han, Professor Park watches as Woo-jin walks away into the night, a calculating expression on his face.
Woo-jin ends up in his dad’s old office, and the computer switches on again in his presence. “Is there really no way out of this? Do Jung-yeon and I really have to go?” he wonders to himself. Remembering how the program answered his question about his memories, he asks it if his dad’s research even exists. The program does nothing, and with growing frustration, Woo-jin shouts, “Is there really nothing that Dad left behind?”
That’s when the program shows him a moment from his childhood, when he had walked into the same office and found Byul sitting at the desk. As Woo-jin sighs in frustration at the apparently useless memory, his gaze suddenly snags on the cross-shaped USB drive on the desk. His eyes widen as he remembers seeing that cross amongst his grandmother’s belongings, and he runs out of the house.
Meanwhile, in his office, Professor Park looks in on the moment with a frown.
Woo-jin arrives at the hospice room and approaches his grandmother cautiously. She looks at him curiously, but when he asks if Dad gave her the cross hanging around her neck, she flies into a panic and calls for the nurse. On his knees next to her, Woo-jin finally just breaks down in frustration and begs her to give him the necklace, crying that it’s the only way for him to save Bum-gyun.
As Grandma sees him crying, his head buried in her blanket, she seems to remember him again. She touches his hair softly and asks where Bum-gyun is. Woo-jin raises his head and promises that if she gave him that necklace, he’ll bring his brother back safe and sound. She takes off the cross and hands it to him, and Woo-jin tearfully thanks his grandmother.
Woo-jin reaches his studio apartment and plugs the USB drive into his laptop. A video screen opens, but it only shows static. Possibly thinking that the file is corrupted, Woo-jin repeatedly presses buttons until frustration gets to him and he gives up. “Is there really no other way?” he wonders, defeated.
Just then, his father appears on screen, sitting in a room where the walls are papered with post-it notes. He introduces himself and titles this as his last entry on the Beta Project.
With hope lighting in his eyes, Woo-jin whispers, “I found it. I found it, Hyung.”
Part 2: Brave New World
Professor Han tells Jung-yeon and Joon-hyuk that Woo-jin was killed by Minister Park. As Joon-hyuk grapples with the devastating news, the mad Professor Han frowns in confusion and adds that it was a perfectly scientific death (he even goes into grisly details), but if it was, he doesn’t know how Human B could still be working.
There’s only so much of Professor Han’s gibberish that Joon-hyuk can take, as he demands to know what Han means. Professor Han cackles as he says that the supercomputer can’t work without Woo-jin, but since it is working, does that mean Woo-jin is alive?
“No, he’s dead,” Professor Han finally concludes, causing Joon-hyuk to almost choke him in frustration as he screams, “Is Woo-jin alive or dead?!”
Professor Han shoves him away and continues his rambling line of thought as he wonders if Minister Park found a way to run the supercomputer by himself. Jumping from one thought to the next, Han wonders if Woo-jin could possibly be alive, before once again concluding that it would be scientifically impossible. Only, a smile touches his face as Han examines a new thought: “Or… is it possible? Is resurrection possible?”
Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon leave Professor Han’s room and discuss what they learned outside. Joon-hyuk remembers that Byul’s star only recognized Woo-jin, so it makes sense that he would be the only one able to operate the system.
This naturally leads them to realize that if Human B doesn’t work without Woo-jin, then it must mean that Minister Park couldn’t crack the secret of the system even in the twenty years he’s had it. “Then where is Woo-jin?” Joon-hyuk asks.
Secretary Shin’s phone rings, and Ho-soo sees that it’s Deputy Chief Lee. He hands her the phone at gunpoint and tells her to answer normally. She seems to do exactly as she says as she tells Deputy Chief Lee that her sister Seo-hee is ill and that she’ll get back to him later.
When she hangs up, Deputy Chief Lee tells his men to look for Secretary Shin, because her sister’s name isn’t Seo-hee. (Ah, smart.) His men locate her outside Professor Han’s residence, and Lee reports the kidnapping to Minister Park. He directs Deputy Chief Lee to use an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) network to communicate so that they can avoid all the Smart Earth technology that Bluebird can hack into.
Ho-soo gets the order on his comm along with other security personnel, and after shooting an accusatory look at Secretary Shin, he goes inside to warn Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon. Jung-yeon is arguing that they have to infiltrate the Human B building if Woo-jin is inside, while Joon-hyuk says that it’s too dangerous. But Ho-soo offers an alternate plan.
We find Chief Hong and Detective Ha occupying two benches at the Smart Earth terminal as they wait for word from Joon-hyuk. Dong-soo arrives and tells them about the directive that just went out over the UHF network to catch Bluebird alive. Together, the three realize that Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon’s location must have been compromised, and they wonder if they can get inside Smart Earth somehow.
Security personnel with their stun wands creep closer to Professor Han’s building, when suddenly, a car careens out of the driveway. They call it in, and a barricade is placed further down the route to stop the car.
It’s Ho-soo behind the wheel, and he drives straight at them before punching the break at the last possible moment. The personnel converge on the car and arrest Ho-soo. Sadly, the only person in the backseat is Secretary Shin. Ha!
As they help Secretary Shin emerge from the car, she says that there’s a way to find out where Bluebird is. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Lee is furious to find out that Ho-soo has been playing him, and Minister Park orders him to check Ho-soo’s memory footage immediately.
Ho-soo is brought back to the Investigation Unit, and Secretary Shin tells him that they’ll be reconnecting his chip to Human B again. “You failed in what you tried to do,” she tells him, and a tear slips out of Ho-soo’s eyes. Aww.
Minister Park watches with vulture-like interest as the connection to Ho-soo’s chip is reestablished in Human B’s control room as he waits for Ho-soo’s memory to be checked. But suddenly, Bluebird’s logo populates the towering screen above them, and he’s told that there’s a virus infecting Human B’s computer network.
Reeling in disbelief, Minister Park wonders how a virus could get in when Human B is completely disconnected from any outside server. Then, he notes how Ho-soo is staring straight and unnervingly at Secretary Shin, whose eyes Minister Park is currently using to watch the situation. Only then does Minister Park realize that the virus was in Ho-soo’s Care Chip.
As Minister Park glares down at Ho-soo on the monitor, Ho-soo looks up at Secretary shin, a victorious smile tugging at his lips.
In flashback, we watch the trio discussing Ho-soo’s plan. Ho-soo tells them to let Human B capture him, since they would immediately reconnect him chip to check his memories for their whereabouts. Jung-yeon immediately catches on, but says that it’s too dangerous.
The non-tech-savvy Joon-hyuk asks them to speak clearly, and Ho-soo explains that if he were to be captured, Bluebird/Jung-yeon could hack into Human B’s security system. He tells them that the supercomputer is on the 99th floor, and this is the only way they have any hope of getting inside.
The risks are high, since they know that once Human B realizes what Ho-soo has done, they will likely block Ho-soo’s memories. Looking at Jung-yeon, Ho-soo asks her to promise that once this is over, she’ll return his memories to him.
Joon-hyuk is reluctant to risk his friend’s life or memory, but seeing that there is no other way, he puts a hand on Ho-soo’s shoulder and says, “I’ve never said this before, but thank you, Lee Ho-soo.”
Ho-soo smiles and says that no matter what else he may forget, he should remember this moment, since it’s the first time he’s heard these words from Joon-hyuk.
In the present, Deputy Chief Lee has his people seal off all entry points to the Human B building. With the security system disabled due to the virus, Jung-yeon and Joon-hyuk are able to sneak into the Human B building through the basement. They find the door’s automation down, and Joon-hyuk is impressed at how well her virus worked.
But since they can’t get through the door the regular way, Joon-hyuk pulls a crowbar from his bag and says, “You’re digital and I’m analog. What do you think? Aren’t we a great team?” They grin at each other, and Joon-hyuk gets to work on the door the old-fashioned way.
Minister Park asks for an update on the virus, and when he’s assured that it’ll be removed soon, he turns to Deputy Chief Lee and directs him to check on “Circle 8.”
Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon make it up ninety-nine floors on foot. Nearly out of breath, they pause a moment at the door leading to the 99th Floor and look at each other. With a nod, Joon-hyuk pulls open the door, only to come face-to-face with a small army, all of them pointing their guns directly at them.
Minister Park walks up to them and smugly tells Jung-yeon that she should have called if she missed him. He orders her to be taken away, and as the personnel grab her, Joon-hyuk pushes his head against the barrel of a gun daringly as he points out that men with chips in their head can’t shoot people.
Minister Park laughs at his cleverness, only to remind him that he has no chip in his head moments before he takes a gun and points it straight at Joon-hyuk. At this very real threat, Jung-yeon immediately stops struggling and agrees to go with them. As Joon-hyuk yells after Jung-yeon, they drag him away and lock him in a room.
Jung-yeon is taken to a bare room with a laptop on a desk that’s running Byul’s memory program. As Minister Park walks in, Jung-yeon observes that he used Woo-jin and the star to make Human B work for all these years, doing nothing on his own merit.
Minister Park admits that Woo-jin is the most important component of the supercomputer. As Jung-yeon yells that Woo-jin is a human being and not a component, Minister Park taunts her for judging him, when she’s been hiding this whole time — if she really cared about Woo-jin, shouldn’t she have come sooner?
He adds that Byul’s memories hold secrets that can give new technologies to humankind, but while Jung-yeon went around unblocking other people’s memories, she never tried to access the memories that Kim Kyu-chul locked away.
“Why am I forcing Woo-jin to make the sacrifice? Because you won’t,” he finally tells Jung-yeon. “If you want to help Woo-jin, then regain your memories. All you have to do is sacrifice yourself instead.”
A man in a surgeon’s gown and mask pushes a cart topped with menacing-looking equipment and, worst of all, a Care Chip. Realizing what’s about to happen to her, Jung-yeon sits heavily in her chair, and as her eyes fall on the chip, tears slip down her face. Minister Park waits with a smug smile as the surgeon brings a scalpel toward Jung-yeon’s neck. Noooo!
But just before the blade can touch her skin, all the lights suddenly shut off.
Ordering the men not to lose Jung-yeon, Minister Park runs down to the control room. There, he’s told that the supercomputer is frozen, but not because of the virus. Deputy Chief Lee rushes in to tell Minister Park that “Circle 8” has disappeared.
Stuck in the locked room, Joon-hyuk suddenly realizes that the lights on the door panel are turned off. He turns the knob, and the door opens easily. Avoiding Human B’s by hiding in the shadows, he slowly creeps out through the corridors and makes his way to the stairwell.
At the Smart Earth terminal, security stops people from going in as they blame it on a system error. Dong-soo realizes that this means that the supercomputer must be down, and Chief Hong gets his men to cause a commotion so that they can get inside. Mingling with the impatient crowd, they begin to stir panic and anger until everyone pushes through the barrier in a rush to get inside the city.
Joon-hyuk must have been incarcerated at a lower level, because we find him running up the stairs to the 99th floor again. Exhausted but determined, he asks Woo-jin to wait for him.
Jung-yeon uses the scalpel on the tray beside her to injure her guard and get away. She runs out to the stairwell too, and when she finds Joon-hyuk, she tells him that the supercomputer is frozen, which can only mean that the connection between Woo-jin and the system was somehow severed. Fearing the worst, they run up the stairs together.
Deputy Chief Lee, Minister Park, and their henchmen take the emergency elevator up, while our heroes trudge laboriously up the steps again.
Suddenly, Joon-hyuk stops Jung-yeon by putting a protective hand out in front of her. The sound of slow footsteps reaches them as someone descends the steps above them.
As the person comes in view, Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon can only stare up in shock. A tear rolls down Jung-yeon’s face, but we can’t see whatever they’re seeing.
“Kim Woo-jin,” breathes Joon-hyuk, barely able to believe his eyes. “Is it really you?”
Gaaaaaaaaah! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! Just… give me a moment to finish hyperventilating here. So much happened in this episode, and yet everything feels organic and inevitable. They’ve been setting up these dominoes in small doses throughout the story, and finally, it’s time to tip the pieces. I can already see the pattern they probably form, but the thrill of this show is in the fact that you can never be sure. They have completely broken my confidence in my ability to anticipate drama plot twists! And yet, I couldn’t be any happier.
Let’s begin with Beta Project. There is something so satisfying in watching the foreshadowed pieces of storytelling come to life. From what Jung-yeon already revealed, we knew that Woo-jin had considered giving up on Bum-gyun’s memories because forgetting them made his brother smile. But in this episode, we were able to see that play out and understand that it was a momentary lapse in judgement.
As Min-young cuttingly pointed out to Woo-jin, he neither had Bum-gyun’s permission to let him forget, nor would his brother remain Bum-gyun without his memories. Having watched Woo-jin struggle with poverty and a shattered family life, we know how highly he values his brother to have come this far. It’s natural and human for him to at least consider giving up.
And then we watched Jung-yeon fight a war within herself, where her desire to remain who she is now clashes with the nagging question of identity. Without Byul’s memory, she was no longer Byul. But it was her own past, and just like Joon-hyuk in the future, she can’t stop thinking about finding out who she used to be. It’s an idea that is both alluring and scary, because once Byul’s memories are unlocked, Jung-yeon wouldn’t be just Jung-yeon anymore.
In the Brave New World sequence, Ho-soo’s sacrifice was cleverly written, but didn’t quite land emotionally for me. Perhaps it’s because he was so opposed to Joon-hyuk for so much of the show that I didn’t feel they had time to build a strong bond. Joon-hyuk and Jung-yeon’s relationship landed more for me, because theirs is based on the mutual need to find Woo-jin, and culminated in that sweet moment in the stairway where they were united as a team. There are decades of wariness and hostility between them, but for Woo-jin’s sake, they have become something close to friends.
It’s to the credit of the show that Woo-jin’s future existence and purpose was kept cleverly under wraps, even as the characters who were in the know made sly references to his involvement with Human B. The position of the CEO was the biggest red herring used to distract us from Woo-jin’s true situation in 2037. The reveal was absolutely brilliant, so praise goes to the writer.
I’m surprised at how believable it is that Woo-jin would buck the shackles of twenty years to exercise his free will for the sake of Jung-yeon. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the lights went off exactly as the surgeon was about to cut into her skin (without anesthesia!). Even without any heavy-handed romance in Part 1, I am completely convinced of Woo-jin’s decades-long attachment to Jung-yeon, who was once Byul.
But I do wonder if he recognizes his brother in Joon-hyuk and whether he has all his memories intact. I have a feeling that despite using Woo-jin as a “component” of his super computer for twenty years, Minister Park hasn’t been able to uncover everything his erstwhile student knows. There are secrets here that the show has yet to reveal!
I also appreciate this cliffhanger, because it feels like Circle revealed exactly the right amount of information for this week, and kept the rest for the grand finale. I feel satisfyingly full and deliciously eager for the last episodes now. No matter how far off my speculations about Woo-jin are, I’m happily confident that the show will give us a final week to remember by delivering its best surprises when we least expect them.
- Circle: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Circle, Fight My Way, Lookout
- Seeking one truth between two worlds in Circle’s posters and teasers
- The game is afoot in sci-fi mystery Circle
- Kim Kang-woo searches for memories and a murder in Circle’s new teaser
- A look into the future in sci-fi mystery Circle’s first teaser
- Stealthy gazes in first stills from tvN’s sci-fi mystery Circle
- Alien sci-fi mystery drama Circle’s first script read
- Lee Ki-kwang cast in tvN’s sci-fi thriller Circle
- Gong Seung-yeon tapped for leading role in tvN’s Circle