Duel: Episode 8
How many conspiracy theories would be considered too many when it comes to Duel? Then again, the dizziness that comes from keeping up with who wants what and why (and in what decade) can be easily forgotten when your mind has already exploded. At least Sung-joon is finally figuring out who he is and what his memories mean, even if it’s not what he — or we — might’ve expected.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Flash-forward intro: Jo-hye runs up to her team outside of Dong-seul’s house, wondering where he could have disappeared to since they were keeping a close eye on him. When it’s revealed that Dong-seul slipped out on his own accord, Jo-hye demands to know where his daughter Min-ji is. Her team reports that Min-ji was last reported to be leaving school with someone who had a police badge, but she hasn’t come home.
Soo-ho and Hyung-shik are convinced that Deuk-chun has kidnapped Min-ji and are worried about what their boss is trying to do. A frustrated Jo-hye gets back in her car. Her phone rings — it’s Deuk-chun calling from a payphone, and he requests that the two of them meet.
We rewind to the moment where Deuk-chun cashes in his favor with Chief Park, who assumes at first Deuk-chun is asking him to abduct Min-ji. Actually, what Deuk-chun wants is Min-ji’s phone to make everyone think that she’s been abducted, when in reality, Chief Park has just intercepted her police protection to watch over her himself while everyone else worries about what’s happened to her.
Chief Park slips Min-ji’s phone to Deuk-chun, having swiped it without her knowledge. He’s worried for Deuk-chun, even though he’s supportive of his friend and Deuk-chun’s attempts to get Soo-yeon back. Just because Chief Park would be willing to get his hands dirty to save his family and go on with life like nothing happened, he knows that Deuk-chun is the type of person who would regret hurting other people, even for his own gain.
Deuk-chun says it’s too late — he has to save Soo-yeon. Chief Park simply tells him not to do anything that would put Soo-yeon to shame. Deuk-chun then calls Dong-seul, telling him that he has Min-ji. If Dong-seul wants to see his daughter again, then he better do as Deuk-chun says.
At Sung-hoon’s lair, Director Baek watches an old CCTV video of Doctor Lee in his office. Doctor Lee opens up a container that holds a golden syringe and injects the medication directly into his hand — just like the modern-day Sung-hoon does.
Sung-hoon finds Director Baek watching the video, wondering why he’s bothering to look at it after all these years. Director Baek points out that if proper medication had been made back then, they wouldn’t be going through all this to get their hands on the organs, and Sung-hoon would have been cured long ago.
Director Baek muses that it’s odd that Doctor Lee would have injected himself with the only medication that was made after the doctor had spent so long creating it in the first place. Sung-hoon assumes the doctor just got greedy — either for money or the promise of eternal life. Director Baek pities the doctor, though, since the very day he gave himself the injection was the day he died.
Changing the subject, Director Baek asks about Deuk-chun. He doesn’t trust Sung-hoon’s casual confidence in the detective and grumbles that Sung-hoon always likes to complicate things. Sung-hoon quietly reminds Director Baek that they’re in this mess now because Director Baek was caught by Deuk-chun, and Director Baek should actually be grateful that Sung-hoon saved his life.
Besides, Sung-hoon has confidence that Deuk-chun will do whatever he asks as long as he has Deuk-chun’s daughter. As he watches Soo-yeon via the security feed, he muses that it’s funny how a person can become unconditionally evil in order to save the person they love.
Dong-seul is tied up at the junk yard, and when he sees Deuk-chun, he pleads for Deuk-chun to let Min-ji go since he kept his end of the bargain by coming here. But Deuk-chun just knocks him out with the butt of his gun.
As he drags Dong-seul to the car, Deuk-chun remembers the way he also begged Soo-yeon’s kidnappers to give her back to him once he delivered the money to them. He sounded almost identical to Dong-seul, who Deuk-chun makes sure is bound and gagged in the trunk of the car.
Deuk-chun drives along, presumably to deliver Dong-seul to Sung-hoon, but he can’t stop thinking about Soo-yeon and his promise to her that he would live well. Stopping the car, he goes to the trunk and splashes water on Dong-seul’s face to wake him up.
Meanwhile, Mi-rae, Sung-joon, and Sunbae arrive at the psychiatric hospital to find more information about Kim Hye-jin. As Sung-joon walks through the lobby, he suddenly has a memory of being at the hospital before, but with someone we’ve never seen before.
After explaining that Nurse Ryu, who’s listed as Hye-jin’s guardian, has passed away and that Mi-rae is her daughter, they meet with Hye-jin’s doctor. He gives his condolences to Mi-rae, letting her know that Nurse Ryu would visit Hye-jin once a year, although they hadn’t lately seen her for a few years.
Mi-rae’s curious about Hye-jin, who’s been in the hospital for about twenty years now. Her primary symptoms are paranoid delusion — she thinks someone is trying to steal her eggs to create clones. The doctor explains that despite her paranoia, Hye-jin seems quite normal.
Hye-jin is brought in to meet with Mi-rae, and when she realizes that it’s Nurse Ryu’s daughter, Hye-jin marvels at how much she’s grown. But then Hye-jin’s gaze goes to the other people in the room, and when she sees Sung-joon, she stands up in a panic.
Instead of Sung-joon, Hye-jin sees Doctor Lee standing in front of her. She demands to know why he’s there and then hysterically screams at him to get out. Grabbing the fountain pen from Sunbae’s shirt pocket, she declares that no one will take “it” away from her, then jabs the pen into her side — right where her ovaries are located.
Sung-joon watches in shock as the blood seeps into Hye-jin’s hospital gown. As the orderlies drag her away, she yells that Sung-joon is a devil.
Sung-hoon sees that Soo-yeon is sleeping and goes down to check on her. He finds a drawing of him with the note, “Thank you, Ajusshi,” that’s she’s made for him. He gently packs away her drawing materials and tucks her into bed.
Director Baek delivers another round of medication for Sung-hoon, adding that he hopes it’s the last time Sung-hoon will need it. Sung-hoon sounds almost sarcastic as he thanks Director Baek for extending his life, but Director Baek deadpans that he’s just the delivery boy — it’s the Big Boss that Sung-hoon should thank.
Sung-hoon’s phone buzzes — Deuk-chun’s sent him a photo of Dong-seul tied up in the trunk of the car. Sung-hoon smirks as he tells Director Baek that he knew Deuk-chun would obey his orders. He calls Deuk-chun, and as Sung-hoon starts to tell Deuk-chun where to bring Dong-seul so he can watch Deuk-chun can kill the man, Deuk-chun cuts him off.
Deuk-chun says that he’ll decide where and how they should meet. Sung-hoon scoffs at this power play, reminding Deuk-chun that Soo-yeon’s life is in his hands. But Deuk-chun knows that what Sung-hoon wants is not Dong-seul’s life, but Dong-seul’s kidney. Waitaminute. I thought Deuk-chun didn’t know about the organs.
It turns out that when he woke Dong-seul up in the trunk, Deuk-chun demanded to know what it was Sung-hoon really wants from him. If Dong-seul tells him the truth, he’ll spare Min-ji’s life. That’s when Dong-seul told him that Sung-hoon wants his kidney.
The ball is now in Deuk-chun’s court, and as an agitated Sung-hoon tells Deuk-chun that he’s making a big mistake since Sung-hoon still has Soo-yeon, Deuk-chun retorts that Sung-hoon is the one making a mistake. He can tell how important Dong-seul is to Sung-hoon, and unless Sung-hoon gives him his daughter back, Deuk-chun won’t surrender Dong-seul. Now, Sung-hoon will have to wait for Deuk-chun’s call.
Enraged, Sung-hoon throws his phone across the room. His tightly laid plans are spinning out of his control.
At the psychiatric hospital, the trio — especially Sung-joon — are still shaken from witnessing Hye-jin stabbing herself. The doctor tells them that they probably shouldn’t visit Hye-jin anytime soon due to her agitated state. As they start to leave the hospital, a nurse walks by and recognizes Sung-joon, asking if he’s back to visit Hye-jin.
Stunned, Sung-joon asks if the nurse knows him, and she tells him that he was there about a month ago to see Hye-jin but because he forgot his ID, he couldn’t sign-in on the visitor’s log and was ultimately turned away. However, the friend he was with did sign-in, and Sung-joon is able to get that friend’s phone number.
Using Mi-rae’s phone, he calls Cha Gi-dong, the person he was supposedly with a month ago. Gi-dong seems to recognize the voice, asking if it’s Woo-hyun. Gi-dong freaks out, telling “Woo-hyun” how worried he’s been. Sung-joon has a memory-flash of being with Woo-hyun and of the two of them hanging out together.
Jo-hye is still parked outside Dong-seul’s house when Boon-suk reveals that Min-ji was with Chief Park and now she’s safe at home. Even though Chief Park insists it was his idea to watch Min-ji, Boon-suk is sure Deuk-chun had something to do with it and offers to bring Chief Park to her.
Jo-hye declines his offer. That’s because minutes before Boon-suk brought his intel to her, she’d been on the phone with Deuk-chun, who’d already told her that Min-ji had returned home safe, and that he had no intention to kidnap Min-ji in the first place. Deuk-chun also asked to meet with her, asking for help. He’d told her that Soo-yeon was alive, and that together, they could get Soo-yeon back and capture her abductor.
They meet in a deserted underpass, and Deuk-chun marvels that she actually came alone. Jo-hye warns him that she could arrest him right now, but Deuk-chun points out that if she does, then she’ll only be getting him and she’ll never find Dong-seul or Soo-yeon’s kidnapper. However, if she works with him, then Jo-hye will be able to apprehend both Dong-seul and the kidnapper — and maybe even Deuk-chun, too, if she wanted.
Deuk-chun knows Jo-hye’s ambition and that she can’t say no to such an offer. Jo-hye points out that she’s usually the one who’s proposing deals so it feels odd for Deuk-chun to be asking her for help. Deuk-chun says that, provided they have the same goal, there’s no better partner than Jo-hye. She asks him what his plan is.
Tennis Chaebol Lady arranges a vase of flowers as Big Boss reports that there’s been an issue. She studies two roses as she asks if she actually has to make a choice. Eyeing the white rose, she asks about Soo-yeon’s condition. Big Boss tells her that the stem cell treatment seems to be working, although they still have to wait and see.
She pouts that it will make it harder for her decide, but thinks Soo-yeon will be more useful in the future. Plus it’s fun watching “oppa” get frustrated due to Soo-yeon’s disappearance. However — she now picks up the red rose — Doctor Lee’s organs are also important because those were the only organs in the world to receive the injection.
Sighing, she says they have no choice, and tells Big Boss that Soo-yeon should “take it.” She then picks up the white rose and cuts the flower off the stem.
Jo-hye calls a team meeting, but it’s mostly Boon-suk and Hyung-shik bickering about whether they should trust Deuk-chun. Jo-hye finally shuts them down, pointing out that it’s not a matter of whether or not they trust Deuk-chun, but whether they can safely retrieve Dong-seul and Soo-yeon and capture the person who kidnapped Soo-yeon.
A flashback to her conversation with Deuk-chun reveals that his plan is to use Dong-seul as bait so she can arrest the kidnapper. She assumes that he means Sung-joon, but Deuk-chun tells her that it isn’t Sung-joon but someone else, and she’ll understand when she sees the kidnapper.
As he waits in the car, Deuk-chun gets a call from Sung-joon, who asks if he’s killed Dong-seul yet. Relieved when Deuk-chun tells him that he hasn’t, Sung-joon reveals that he’s found someone who might help them find Soo-yeon. Sung-joon’s convinced that if Deuk-chun waits a little longer, they’ll find a way to save Soo-yeon that doesn’t involve killing Dong-seul.
Deuk-chun says it’s a good thing that Sung-joon’s memories are returning and that he’s found people from his past, since Sung-joon can start his life again. Worried, Sung-joon asks if Deuk-chun still plans to kill Dong-seul like Sung-hoon told him to, and Deuk-chun reassures him that he’s not going to let Sung-hoon call the shots. Deuk-chun has his own plan to put into motion, promising to save Soo-yeon and prove that Sung-joon is innocent.
In his lair, Sung-hoon gasps as he struggles to inject himself. As Sung-hoon waits for the medication to take effect, he grumbles at Director Baek, asking if Director Baek ratted on the Big Boss about him. Director Baek simply tells him that they’ve been ordered to return Soo-yeon and deliver the organs instead.
Angry, Sung-hoon demands to know if they’re now supposed to just do whatever Deuk-chun wants. But Director Baek wants to know why Sung-hoon keeps complicating things by involving Deuk-chun. Grabbing a gun, Sung-hoon points it at Director Baek as he yells at Director Baek to shut up.
Unfazed, Director Baek reveals a message from Deuk-chun, asking to meet later that night. As Director Baek leaves, the unhinged Sung-hoon hears children’s voices pleading with with someone to believe them. With a scream, Sung-hoon fires the gun at nothing.
Hyung-shik and Soo-ho load their own guns as they wonder if they can really trust Jo-hye. Hyung-shik thinks Deuk-chun must have asked for her help because he had no other choice, and reminds Soo-ho that Jo-hye and Deuk-chun once grew up together in the same neighborhood, rising up from a poor and disadvantaged life to eventually make something of themselves, and were close until “the incident” — which I’m presuming means the night Deuk-chun’s wife was killed.
Mi-rae continues to ponder her theories about Sung-joon, Sung-hoon, and Doctor Lee’s organs. She’s slightly distressed when she can’t find the photo of Doctor Lee in her mother’s file, but she doesn’t have time to look further since she, Sunbae, and Sung-joon are scheduled to meet with “Woo-hyun’s” friend, Gi-dong.
Sunbae is delighted that this means their lost puppy Sung-joon will finally find his true home, but on the way to the restaurant, Sung-joon starts to feel sick to his stomach. He tells Sunbae to pull over so he can run to the restroom, where Sung-joon pukes his guts out.
As he freshens up at the sink, he looks in the mirror — and sees not his reflection, but the reflection of Sung-hoon and Doctor Lee. Enraged, he yells that he’s not them and then punches the mirror.
Mi-rae patiently waits for Sung-joon outside the restroom, and as he slowly shuffles her way, she gently reassures him that Sunbae is getting him some carsickness medication. But Sung-joon just pulls the photo of Doctor Lee from his pocket and hands it to her.
Sung-joon tells her that he’s not the man in the photo, and the memories he’s been having of Nurse Ryu, and Hye-jin aren’t his, either. Sung-joon believes that they belong to the man in the photograph who died years ago.
Sung-joon can’t believe he didn’t figure it earlier. After all, someone who has the same face, DNA, and fingerprints as him can’t possibly exist unless he was made on purpose. But Sung-joon points out that Mi-rae already figured out that he’s a clone, even before they visited Hye-jin.
When Mi-rae quietly admits that she knows, Sung-joon laughs to himself. He’d been hoping to hear her say that he was spouting nonsense and it wasn’t true. Mi-rae apologizes, but Sung-joon says she doesn’t need to. Sunbae runs up just then with a drink to help with the nausea, and Sung-joon says he’s ready to go.
Sung-hoon hurries down to his medical basement. Soo-yeon cheerfully asks if he saw the picture she drew for him, but he abruptly tells her he’s not interested. As he fiddles with her IV drip, Soo-yeon sadly asks if she has to go to sleep again even though it’s not nighttime.
But when Sung-hoon says that she has to sleep so she can see her father, she’s happy to get into bed. As excited as she is to go home and be with her father, Soo-yeon realizes that means she won’t see Sung-hoon again. She tells Sung-hoon that somehow that makes her sad, but soon the drugs take effect and she’s asleep. Sung-hoon gently removes her IV before picking her up and carrying her upstairs.
The trio wait for Gi-dong at the restaurant. Sunbae is perhaps the only happy one, assuming this means Sung-joon — or “Woo-hyun” — can return to his previous life. When Gi-dong enters the restaurant, he hesitates a moment, and then kneels in front of Sung-joon, begging forgiveness, blaming himself for what happened. With a pained look on his face, Gi-dong apologizes for selling “Woo-hyun” for money.
Gi-dong explains to “Woo-hyun” that he didn’t know what would happen to him, but when some guy came to his work, asking if he was from Soojung Orphanage, the man also showed him a picture of “Woo-hyun.” That man was Director Baek and it was a photo of Sung-hoon, and even though Gi-dong didn’t know that, he still knew that despite looking exactly like “Woo-hyun,” the man in the photo didn’t seem like the same person.
The man also knew “Woo-hyun’s” name from when they were at the orphanage: Lee Sung-joon. Gi-dong starts to cry as he apologizes for his money weakness, but he needed the money for his mother’s medical bills. Sung-joon is more curious about why he’s apparently going by “Woo-hyun” now. Gi-dong says he doesn’t know, except that “Woo-hyun” never really liked it since it reminded him of his orphanage days.
Dong-seul is still in the trunk, and Deuk-chun opens it up and takes off the man’s gag. Dong-seul demands to know who he is and why he’s doing this, and where he’s keeping Min-ji. Dong-seul offers to double the amount of whatever Deuk-chun is getting paid if it means saving Min-ji, but Deuk-chun quietly tells him that Min-ji is safe at home, and he’s doing his best to save Dong-seul.
Deuk-chun drives the car to an empty warehouse, where Jo-hye’s team is hidden and lying in wait.
Meanwhile, Gi-dong takes the trio to where “Woo-hyun” lives, which is apparently in a garage. Gi-dong can’t stick around since he has to work, but he tells Sung-joon where to find the spare key. The trio cautiously enter the garage where a ramshackle living space has been set up.
The focus, however, seems to be the desk and a makeshift wall that’s covered with a sheet. Sung-joon removes the sheet, shocked to find a wall of evidence: newspaper articles about cloning, photos and profile information about Doctor Lee, even photos of Byung-joon, Joo-shik, and Dong-seul. As Sung-joon takes in all the information, he suddenly doubles over in pain, his hands clutching his head.
One of the things I’ve loved about this show is that our heroes are smart and figure things out just as fast as we the viewers could (with maybe as many questions as we the viewers have, too). There have been plenty of twists and turns, but none that were truly shocking except in a “Aha! So that’s why this is important!” kind of way. But now I’m truly stunned. I did not see Sung-joon’s previous life coming, much less one where he already knows about the cloning, Doctor Lee, and the organs.
Here I was, naively believing Sung-joon was literally born yesterday, but now it seems he’s also had an entire life, just like Sung-hoon has. Although, considering the two of them are presumably products of an illegal experiment, it’s a wonder that someone allowed him to get sent to an orphanage in the first place. You’d think they — whomever the Sanyoung powers that be — would want to keep studying him, even if Doctor Lee was out of the picture. Or maybe Sanyoung wanted to quickly hush up the project after Doctor Lee was cut up and his organs put into other people’s bodies, and the easiest way to dispose of a couple of kids was to dump them at an orphanage. Or maybe the orphanage is a cover-up for other scientific experiments. Or maybe there are people quietly spying on Sung-joon and watching him grow up and interact with the world. Or maybe… whew, okay, I did say that for every question this show answers, a dozen more spring up like weeds in its place.
At least we now know why everyone is desperate to find Doctor Lee’s organs. He’s been injected with the Only Injection That Matters, the Golden Injection, the Most Precious Injection. A secret injection that’s so powerful that it could cure cancer, presumably, or maybe make someone live forever, or at least keep a clone alive without needing to take constant injections of an inferior medication. This also begins to explain why Soo-yeon is so important, since I’m now assuming that the stem cell injection she received must be the result of twenty-some years’ worth of scientific labor to reproduce the One True Golden Injection that Doctor Lee administered to himself (which also makes me wonder if the fact he died that same night was pure coincidence or conspiracy).
I’m also assuming that Tennis Chaebol Lady must have some chronic illness that could be fixed with a stem cell injection, since it looked like she was arranging her flowers in a VIP hospital room. If not her, then perhaps another family member — because then it’s not simply a matter of figuring out how to put profit into Sanyoung’s pockets, but to save a life. The life of a chaebol, though, which teases at the moral debate of which is more important: the life of a poor child who has nothing or the life of a rich person with influence. At any rate, Tennis Chaebol Lady does seem to be working on her own, since it seems the Sanyoung chairman — aka “oppa” — doesn’t know what happened to Soo-yeon, so I’m betting Tennis Chaebol Lady was the one who tipped Sung-hoon off about kidnapping Soo-yeon. She’s probably the one funding his mansion lair and all the medication, too, since she can get her hands on any trial medicine that Sanyoung makes.
While there are still a lot of questions left unanswered, I’m excited that we’ve finally reached the point where our characters believe that clones are real. I’m also happy that there are alliances being made, however begrudging they may be. I’m also impatient to find out how all of our characters are connected, since now I’m wondering if tiny Sung-hoon and Sung-joon ever met Deuk-chun before. I have the nagging suspicion that Deuk-chun might have been the “ajusshi” the boys were crying out to — the voices in Sung-hoon’s memory. Maybe they escaped and were trying to explain the wild tale of being locked up in a hospital and being tested on. I’d have to work out the math of ages to see if that was plausible, but I’m convinced everyone is connected one way or another (Soo-yeon being chosen for the stem cell research can’t have been a fluke).
Finally, while I’ve been so caught up in the plot and figuring out what each tiny detail means, I want to express how enjoyable this show is to watch on a technical level. Even though the flash-forwards and flashbacks can sometimes make me dizzy, it’s a stylish way to keep the storyline fresh and moving, even when all that’s happening is exposition. I also love some of the neat camerawork (the way we went from watching the CCTV of Doctor Lee to actually being “in” the room with him particularly comes to mind).
Of course, I also have to heap oodles of praise on the actors, particularly Yang Se-jong. I think all of us were a little nervous about someone so green taking on the huge responsibility of representing two completely different main characters (which has now expanded into three), but Yang Se-jong has done an incredible job embodying the helpless confusion of Sung-joon, the smirking conniving nature of Sung-hoon (with a dash of gentle weakness for Soo-yeon), and the haughtiness of Doctor Lee. I just hope this drama doesn’t totally wear him out, because I’m already looking forward to seeing what other characters he can play.
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- The clone face-off begins in Duel posters
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