Duel: Episode 12
It never ceases to delight me that whenever I start to question the logistics of cloning and the purpose of the almighty original vaccine, the show decides to question it too, leaving us to learn the truth alongside the rest of the characters. Everything has its purpose on this show and no detail is too small, especially when it comes to connecting everything (and everyone) together.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Mi-rae and Sung-joon nervously pace in Sunbae’s house, wondering if Deuk-chun and Soo-yeon made it home safe. Just as Sung-joon reasons that “no news is good news,” he crumples in pain. Along with the pain comes the memory of Doctor Lee giving the syringe away to someone, although Sung-joon can’t see who just yet.
Mi-rae wonders where the original vaccination could possibly be. She deduces that if another company or scientist had found it, the medication would have found a way to been produced somehow within the past twenty-four years. Instead, Soo-yeon is the only one who has apparently received the medication since then, at least that Mi-rae knows of.
Since the vaccine is related to her mother, Mi-rae promises to stay with Sung-joon and help him get to the bottom of it. Sung-joon says that he trusts her, which sets off the memory of Doctor Lee saying the exact same words to Nurse Ryu as Doctor Lee handed over the original vaccine. Shocked, Sung-joon tells Mi-rae that her mother was the one who had the syringe.
At the hospital, Deuk-chun frets that all the fun earlier in the day was just too much for Soo-yeon, which is why she collapsed as soon as they reached their home. He blames himself for being unable to say no to her as she tried all the things she wasn’t able to do growing up due to her leukemia. The doctor tells him that the tests they ran do show that the stem cell treatment worked — Soo-yeon no longer has leukemia.
However, they’ve now found a couple of malignant tumors on her lungs and liver. Deuk-chun refuses to believe it, but the doctor gently says that based on the rapid growth of the tumors, they’re presuming it’s actually a side effect of the stem cell treatment. This means Soo-yeon currently has maybe one month left to live.
Deuk-chun pleads with the doctor to find a way to cure her, but the doctor can only apologize that there’s nothing they can do at this point. Grief-stricken, Deuk-chun sits by his daughter and watches her sleep.
Meanwhile, Jo-hye has a lot of thinking to do. She recalls the time when the chief prosecutor asked her to stop investigating the child kidnapping case — the one with the five-year-old from the first episode — since the Chief Prosecutor said they already found the little girls’ body and the body of the person who kidnapped her.
In a flashback, Jo-hye points out that even if she stopped the investigation, she wouldn’t be able to stop the police involvement. But that’s why the Chief Prosecutor made sure to assign her to the case, since he knows that she and Deuk-chun already fudged the investigation on a prior case — the one that ended up with Deuk-chun’s wife ultimately being killed.
Jo-hye knows that Deuk-chun isn’t likely to agree to call off the case again, especially with the memory of what happened last time, but the Chief Prosecutor says she doesn’t have a choice. It’s an order, not a request. He hands her a bank account book to help bribe Deuk-chun, and Jo-hye marvels that someone must have deep pockets to shell out half a million dollars to buy Deuk-chun’s silence.
Jo-hye wonders how much the Chief Prosecutor was paid to ensure that they stop investigating, but the Chief Prosecutor just sneers as he tells her that he hates her for her arrogance. He warns Jo-hye that he’s only keeping her around because she’s useful, so she better continue to prove her worth — and shut her mouth.
This memory spurns the current-day Jo-hye to order her team to look into Ahn Jeong-dong, the father in the original kidnapping case, since she knows there must be some suspicious connections there. She also orders them to investigate any connections the Chief Prosecutor has to Sanyoung.
At the hospital, Soo-yeon wakes up to see her father sitting by her bedside. She’s confused by why she’s back at the hospital when she’s been cured of her leukemia, and Deuk-chun quietly tells her that the doctors are just running some tests to see how she’s doing now that she’s better. Soo-yeon sleepily tells her father that she can’t seem to stay awake, and Deuk-chun gently tucks her in as he wishes Soo-yeon goodnight.
Mi-rae and Sung-joon arrive at the hospital to update Deuk-chun about Sung-joon’s memories. Deuk-chun immediately latches on to the fact that if they can find the original syringe, then he might be able to save Soo-yeon’s life. Sung-joon says it’s possible, and Deuk-chun gets a desperate look in his eyes as he vows that they’ll find the original vaccine.
At the prosecutor’s office, Boon-suk wonders why Jo-hye made sure Deuk-chun was reinstated as a detective. Jo-hye enigmatically tells him that she’s just settling up a long-standing debt. Plus, she needs Deuk-chun right now, and echoing the words Deuk-chun told her during their secret meeting, she says that provided the two of them have the same goal, there’s no better partner than Deuk-chun.
Deuk-chun walks through the hallways of the police station until he reaches his old office. All the other detectives there spring up to greet him and welcome him back, but Chief Park shushes them so Deuk-chun can return to his desk without undue fuss. Hyung-shik and Soo-ho are also there, having been reassigned back to their original desks once Jo-hye was first demoted.
The two detectives fill Deuk-chun in on their suspicions that Jo-hye used her pull to get Deuk-chun reinstated. Or at least someone with authority did, making sure that Deuk-chun’s involvement with the fugitive escape remains hush-hush.
Deuk-chun wastes no time getting his team back to work as they officially restart their investigation into Soo-yeon’s kidnapping. Chief Park hilariously rolls himself over in his chair under the pretense of giving Deuk-chun a cup of coffee, but really, it’s just so he can make sure he’s being included.
Deuk-chun orders his team to thoroughly look into Doctor Lee and Nurse Ryu. He glosses over the scientific details (ha, he explains that the detectives wouldn’t understand anyway, himself included) about the original vaccine except to say that their primary focus now is to find it. Deuk-chun is convinced there had to be someone close to Nurse Ryu who knew about the original vaccine’s existence.
It’s adorable how supportive the other detectives are as they pledge their loyalty to Deuk-chun, throwing themselves fully into the investigation.
Back at Sunbae’s safe house, Mi-rae, Sung-joon, and Sunbae sadly contemplate poor Soo-yeon’s health. Sung-joon is worried that, since Soo-yeon got the new stem cell treatment made by Sanyoung, finding the original one won’t be any of help in curing her. Mi-rae believes that the new vaccine wasn’t as complete as the original, based on what she read in her mother’s documents, so the original treatment could cure Soo-yeon after all.
The catch, though, is figuring out what Nurse Ryu did with the original vaccine. Mi-rae frets that her mother never had any close friends, likely due to Nurse Ryu’s past, and because they moved around quite frequently when she was a child. She can’t think of any of her mother’s colleagues, either.
Sunbae points out that they actually know of someone that Nurse Ryu kept in contact with since her time with Sanyoung: Kim Hye-jin, the original patient who now lives at the psychiatric hospital.
Doctor Mom visits Jo-hye to find out more information about Sung-joon and Sung-hoon. Since Jo-hye is working on the case, Doctor Mom assumes that Jo-hye must know where they are. Jo-hye demurs that she can’t reveal details about an on-going investigation, but Doctor Mom offers to “pay” for the information by giving information of her own. Jo-hye suggests that they both tell each other everything that they know.
Jo-hye promises Doctor Mom that Jo-hye will destroy Sanyoung, which Jo-hye believes is also what Doctor Mom really wants. But Doctor Mom points out that if Jo-hye found about the car accident, then Jo-hye knows that Doctor Mom doesn’t easily trust prosecutors, thanks to the way that the not-yet-a-Chief Prosecutor manipulated things.
But Jo-hye wants to ruin the Chief Prosecutor, too, and in order to do that, she has to take down Sanyoung. Jo-hye asks if Doctor Mom will join her in an alliance of destruction.
Sunbae drives everyone to the psychiatric hospital, and Mi-rae wonders why Doctor Lee would entrust her mother with the golden syringe. Mi-rae believes Doctor Lee must have wanted to hide it, which implies that Doctor Lee knew someone wanted to take it from him.
Of all the people who would know what Doctor Lee was up to back then, it ought to be Sung-joon. But Sung-joon apologizes that he doesn’t have any other memories from then. However, Sung-joon is convinced it was an act of desperation when Doctor Lee gave the syringe to Nurse Ryu.
At the psychiatric hospital, Sung-joon suddenly gets cold feet as he remembers the way Hye-jin stabbed herself after seeing him. Sung-joon wisely suggests that he wait for everyone in the lobby. Sunbae offers to stay with him, although it’s more out of fear of seeing Hye-jin stab herself again than anything else.
As Mi-rae and Deuk-chun head to the doctor’s office, Deuk-chun asks her if Sung-joon is in bad shape. Deuk-chun knows Sung-hoon is looking for the vaccine in order to cure himself, so Deuk-chun assumes it must be the same for Sung-joon. Hesitating slightly, Mi-rae confesses that Sung-joon doesn’t have much longer to live.
Sunbae chatters at Sung-joon as they sit in the waiting room. Sunbae cautiously trying to find a way to ask if Sung-joon is really a clone, relieved when Sung-joon confirms that he is. Sung-joon affably tries to answer all of Sunbae’s questions.
The biggest question Sunbae has is how Sung-joon is able to experience Doctor Lee’s memories. While Sunbae can understand duplicating DNA, duplicating memories is more mysterious. Sung-joon doesn’t know how he has Doctor Lee’s memories, either, but then again, Sung-joon points out that being a clone is unfathomable in and of itself.
Aw, Sunbae reassures Sung-joon that he wouldn’t have known Sung-joon was a clone if someone hadn’t told him. Sunbae adorably adds that they’re just the same, human or clone. Double aw.
Deuk-chun and Mi-rae are escorted to where Hye-jin is seated outside. The doctor is only allowing the visit because he thinks it will be good for Hye-jin to see Mi-rae again without Sung-joon, and that Hye-jin has already forgotten about the first visit, likely due to shock.
Mi-rae reintroduces herself to Hye-jin, who recognizes her as Nurse Ryu’s daughter. Deuk-chun also introduces himself as a detective looking for something that once belonged to Nurse Ryu. Hye-jin reminisces over how sweet and thoughtful Nurse Ryu was whenever she visited.
Hye-jin also remembers how gently Nurse Ryu would cry after she thought Hye-jin had fallen asleep, but Hye-jin knew Nurse Ryu was crying because she missed Mi-rae. That’s news to Mi-rae.
Deuk-chun mentions the vaccine, and Hye-jin says she knows about it, but then her face scrunches up in pain. Hye-jin goes into a fit as she starts to scream about the vaccine. A nurse runs over to help calm Hye-jin down, then demands that Deuk-chun and Mi-rae leave.
At his lair, Sung-hoon studies his bandaged side, remembering Sung-joon’s declaration that he’s Sung-hoon’s brother. Assuming that he’ll be getting visitors soon, Sung-hoon pulls out his gun and smiles. As Sung-hoon fixes himself a drink, he sees the news report that Chairman Park has made a recovery after being unconscious for two years.
Seo-jin goes to the hospital to se her father, and on the the way to the room, leaves another voicemail for Sung-hoon, demanding to know what Soo-yeon’s test results are.
It turns out she doesn’t need to know what Soo-yeon’s results were, because her father’s already been informed that Soo-yeon now has cancer, presumably a side effect of the stem cell treatment. Seo-jin is shocked to find out about the cancer, and pleads with her father to forgive her for giving him the stem cell treatment.
Chairman Park gently takes his daughter’s hand, telling her that he understands. After all, it’s thanks to Seo-jin that he’s still alive. However, he won’t forgive her for potentially giving him cancer until she finds the original vaccine. Chairman Park orders her to bring Sung-hoon to him, since he’s been told that Sung-hoon knows where the original vaccine is.
Seo-jin unleashes her frustration on Big Boss, demanding to know why he didn’t warn her that he told Chairman Park about Sung-hoon. Big Boss explains that his loyalty has always been to Chairman Park, and he only worked for Seo-jin because she was more assertive than her brother about saving her father’s life.
Ohhhh, apparently Chairman Park gave his children an ultimatum that the first one of them to find the original vaccine and to save his life will inherit the company. Seo-jin insists that she should become the next CEO since she was the one who stayed by her father’s side when her brother wanted nothing to do with their father.
Chairman Park dismisses her, telling Seo-jin that he’ll buy her all the clothes and trinkets she could possibly want, but Sanyoung is not a toy for her to use. Besides, she shouldn’t be concerned, since she’s the only one who knows where Sung-hoon is, so it’s not like her brother will find the cure first.
Alone in her car, Seo-jin screams out her frustration. Her only hope to claim Sanyoung as hers is to bring Sung-hoon to her father.
Sung-joon is disappointed to realize that Deuk-chun and Mi-rae’s visit to Hye-jin was essentially a bust. He’s not the only one, as Sunbae and Mi-rae also have sad puppy-dog faces of disappointment. Deuk-chun tries to buck up the troops by pointing out that it’s not like they were going to figure everything out in one go — this is only the beginning of their investigation.
Seo-jin goes to Sung-hoon’s lair, demanding to know why he isn’t answering his phone. Sung-hoon muses that she has an awfully rude way of greeting someone that she hasn’t seen for a long time. Annoyed, Seo-jin points out that they just saw each other, and Sung-hoon laughs at himself as he realizes that she’s right (except, of course, who she thought was Sung-hoon was actually Sung-joon pretending to be him).
Seo-jin says that she pays for Sung-hoon’s house, so she has every right to barge in. Then she tells him that he’d better come with her ASAP before anyone else arrives to take him away. She promises to buy him a new place, but they need to leave, now.
Unmoved, Sung-hoon asks Seo-jin if her father is looking for him. She plays dumb, but Sung-hoon knows that Chairman Park is now awake and is looking for the original vaccine. Seo-jin continues to pretend she has no idea what he’s talking about, and Sung-hoon says that he knows she’s Chairman Park’s daughter.
Even though she’s hidden her connection to Sanyoung, Sung-hoon was able to figure it out based on the way she could promise his revenge against Sanyoung. Seo-jin asks Sung-hoon why he was willing to work for her if he knew who she was, since her father is the person Sung-hoon wants revenge against.
But Sung-hoon points out that he never actually worked for her. Instead, he was just using Seo-jin — he needed her money and the injections. Seo-jin asks if he’ll hurt other people, and Sung-hoon points out that she and her family also hurt others as they fight over who has control Sanyoung. Seo-jin insists that she only does what she can to survive, and right now, her trump card is Sung-hoon.
She promises to keep giving Sung-hoon money and injections if he’ll immediately leave with her. Sung-hoon refuses. He has his own reason to stay put right now, and he tells Seo-jin to inform Chairman Park that Sung-hoon will be coming for him soon.
Deuk-chun brings the gang back to his house so he can gather up some of Soo-yeon’s belongings. The house is left in exactly the same state as when he left it days ago, and the trio help tidy up a bit as Deuk-chun packs Soo-yeon’s bag.
Deuk-chun finds Soo-yeon’s notebook that details out how frugal she was with her allowance, which causes him to smile even as he starts to tear up. Sunbae’s taken it on himself to be the chauffeur, offering to drive Deuk-chun to the hospital to see Soo-yeon. It’s probably out of self-preservation for his car, but the sentiment is still sweet.
Before Deuk-chun and the gang head to the hospital, Hyung-shik calls to update Deuk-chun on their investigation into Nurse Ryu. They’ve discovered that she had a close friend, a man named Kang Kyung-hoon, but the last time they met was in 1991 — the same year Mi-rae was born.
Overhearing the conversation, tears well in Mi-rae’s eyes as she wonders if they’ve found the person who might be her father. She’s always assumed that whomever her father was had already died. Mi-rae says that she’ll go with Deuk-chun to meet Kyung-hoon.
Deuk-chun tries to tell her that it might be better if she stays behind, but Seo-jin, overcome with emotion, insists that she wants to find out firsthand if Kyung-hoon is her father or not. Deuk-chun agrees to take her, and the two of them (along with Sung-joon) nervously wait at a cafe for Nurse Ryu’s mysterious friend.
Kyung-hoon finally arrives, and as he greets Deuk-chun, Seo-jin can’t stop staring at the man who might be her father. Kyung-hoon happily tells them stories about Nurse Ryu. He grew up in the same neighborhood, and he, Nurse Ryu, and another friend of theirs were nearly inseparable.
Chairman Park gets ready for bed, but just as he lays down, someone creeps into the room. That hooded figure looks awfully familiar. Surprise, surprise, it’s Sung-hoon, and Chairman Park’s eyes grow wide as he says, “Doctor Lee?”
Removing the hood, Sung-hoon says that Chairman Park is no different than Joo-shik or Dong-seul if he’s that confused about who’s standing in front of him. Chairman Park quickly gathers his wits, realizing this must be Sung-hoon. He asks why Sung-hoon is here, and with his trademark grin, Sung-hoon says that he knows the chairman was looking for him.
Sung-hoon pulls out a gun and aims it at Chairman Park’s head, explaining that he’s been waiting a long time for this moment. Chairman Park asks if Sung-hoon is there to kill him, and Sung-hoon says that he’ll Chairman Park the same way that Chairman Park has carelessly treated the lives that were created and destroyed in Sanyoung’s experiments.
Chairman Park asks why Sung-hoon would come to him now, when Chairman Park would have been an easy target the past two years while he was unconscious. Sung-hoon says an easy target takes the fun out of it. Besides, Sung-hoon adds as he cocks the gun, he wanted to ask Chairman Park a question: “Why did you create me?”
I’m not sure if I believe that Kyung-hoon is Mi-rae’s father, if only because he mentioned that he had another friend he was close to along with Nurse Ryu, so now I’m convinced that other as-yet-unnamed-but-possibly-someone-we’ve-already-met friend is Mi-rae’s biological father. I even had the wild and fleeting suspicion that Mi-rae might be an illegitimate daughter of Chairman Park, based on the memory of the original kidnapping case where the pregnant mistress kidnapped the child to force Ahn Jeong-dong to reveal that they were having an affair. Nothing is an accident on this show (and I knew that case would somehow come back again! I knew it!). I’m hoping my wild speculation about Chairman Park as Mi-rae’s father is utterly wrong because she totally deserves better, although it definitely would help to throw another wrench into the “who will inherit Sanyoung” debate. Not that there’s a true debate about it, since clearly Oppa is going to be in charge, since not even Seo-jin doing everything she can to save her father’s life is enough to get Chairman Park to trust her.
Which almost makes me feel sorry for her. Almost. Seo-jin has been working so hard to find a gimmick that will prove to her father that she’s capable of running the company. Or at least that she’s worthy of his love. It must be incredibly frustrating to realize you’re more competent than your brother, but your father only sees you as a pretty ornament who’s primarily concerned about clothes. Then again, I hardly know anything about Seo-jin’s brother, but I’m not sure I can honestly blame him for not putting a full effort into helping cure his father. But that’s probably because I think Chairman Park is the worst, and very clearly the true villain in this story.
Then again, it’s a good thing Chairman Park has regained consciousness because, as Sung-hoon so murderously points out, how else will we get the answer to the clones’ existence except by asking the man who ordered that they be created? I’m still stuck on the fact that, based on a small line from the previous episode, Doctor Mom apparently didn’t fully realize what she was getting into with the cloning until it was too late. I have the feeling that Doctor Mom would have never agreed to foster an experiment to clone her husband (and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what she must have been going through, raising these clones that are identical to her husband, but whom she treats as her sons).
Overall, this episode was a breath of fresh air after the somewhat dragging previous episode. I feel like we’re finally ready to hurtle towards the finish line where all those burning questions we’ve had since the first day will finally be answered. Again, I love that the show isn’t afraid to fully embrace the fact that all of our questions are the same as the characters’ questions. Not just the question of why they bothered to clone Doctor Lee in the first place, but also the head-scratcher of how Sung-joon can have some of Doctor Lee’s memories and Sung-hoon not have any. Maybe we won’t get the exact answers we’re looking for, but a shrug and a “I don’t know” is still enough for me. Somehow, the fact that the show is like “Yeah, it’s weird, isn’t it?” makes it easier for me to accept whatever hand-wavey science they throw at me.
As goofy and dim as Sunbae can be, I really loved how accepting he was of Sung-joon. His sincere “You’re as human as I am” was one of the sweetest things he could say. We could spend hours debating the humanness of clones, whether they have souls, etc., but Sunbae’s simple “You’re just like me!” is the only answer I need, and, I think, the only answer Sung-joon needs. At least in the general sense. Then again, Sung-joon has spent more time out in the real world where no one knows he’s a clone and therefore perhaps has a greater sense of humanness than Sung-hoon, who’s been kept in his cage like a lab rat. The only human kindness that Sung-hoon seems to have had growing up was courtesy of Doctor Mom (and Sung-joon), so it’s no wonder that he’d become so heartless and ballistic once that was ripped from his life.
That’s probably why those scenes with Soo-yeon, when she was kept in the medical basement, were so touching. She sees the humanity in Sung-hoon because she doesn’t know that there’s any other choice, and therefore, Sung-hoon can’t help but glimpse that humanity in himself, too. It’s also why I refuse to give up hope that Sung-hoon can somehow be redeemed, even as I wish that Sung-hoon would actually pull the trigger against Director Baek. I want the anti-hero to become an actual hero by rising above his murderous tendencies and realizing the best way to destroy Sanyoung is by supporting the official routes as led by Deuk-chun. But then again, I also want him to get his well-deserved revenge on the man that has treated Sung-hoon as nothing more than a lab rat all these years. Ah, the moral quandaries I find myself in, thanks to these clones.
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- The clone face-off begins in Duel posters
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