Duel: Episode 9
Ah, the mysteries of cloning. As Sung-joon tries to understand everything that’s flooding back into his brain, the desperate hunt for Doctor Lee’s organs continues. There are also some surprising discoveries that may shift the power balance — but in whose favor?
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Instead of a flash-forward starting off the episode, it’s actually a flashback of Sung-joon pre-memory-loss as he secretly takes photos of Byung-joon, Joo-shik, and Dong-seul. Pre-memory-loss Sung-joon also researches Doctor Lee and cloning, which explains the collage collection that the current Sung-joon finds on the makeshift wall in the garage living quarters. There’s a nifty shot of Sung-joon, as the memories return, watching his earlier self gather the information.
Meanwhile, Deuk-chun and Sung-hoon are at the abandoned warehouse for a hostage exchange. When Deuk-chun demands to see Soo-yeon before he hands over Dong-seul, Director Baek carries her out. Whatever sleeping medication they gave her seems to have worn off, and she pleads with Director Baek to let her go so she can return to her father.
But Sung-hoon refuses to hand her over until Deuk-chun produces Dong-seul. Deuk-chun reassures Soo-yeon that she just needs to wait a little bit longer, and then he returns to the car to pull Dong-seul out of the trunk. Dong-seul, bound and gagged, is shocked to see Sung-hoon, who greats him with a smirk.
Deuk-chun isn’t going to hand Dong-seul over that easily, though. Deuk-chun points a gun at Dong-seul’s kidney as he tells Sung-hoon to let Soo-yeon go, or the kidney will be destroyed. In response, Sung-hoon points his gun at Soo-yeon’s head, telling Deuk-chun to leave Dong-seul in the middle of the warehouse first.
Dong-seul walks forward and obediently stands in the middle between Deuk-chun and Sung-hoon. Soo-yeon, free to return her father, runs toward him with a smile on her face, yelling “Dad!”
But as she reaches the middle of the warehouse, Dong-seul breaks free from his bonds and grabs her. Dong-seul holds a knife to Soo-yeon’s neck as he warns everyone not to come closer.
The warehouse is not as abandoned as it looks, because Jo-hye and the rest of her team are hidden about with their guns at the ready as they watch the hostage exchange. Deuk-chun spots Jo-hye as she nods to her team, who immediately step out from their hiding spots and surround everyone, each one pointing a gun at someone else.
Jo-hye points her gun at Dong-seul, ordering him to let Soo-yeon go. It’s eerily reminiscent of the time when Deuk-chun’s wife was held hostage, and fearing that Soo-yeon will also be accidentally killed if Jo-hye shoots, Deuk-chun screams at everyone to stop.
Meanwhile, Sung-joon’s memories continue to return, overwhelming him. He recalls tiny Sung-joon and Sung-hoon sitting face-to-face on their hospital beds, looking like mirror reflections of each other as tiny Sung-hoon proudly shows off his portrait drawing of Sung-joon. They’re so adorable.
Back to the warehouse, where Jo-hye gets Dong-seul’s daughter on the phone to prove that Min-ji is safe. Jo-hye explains that the person who’s trying to hurt Dong-seul is really Sung-hoon, and that the prosecutor/detective team will help him if Dong-seul lets Soo-yeon go.
Dong-seul agrees, and Jo-hye switches her aim to Sung-hoon, ordering him to put down the gun. Sung-hoon is still aiming at Dong-seul. With a glance at Director Baek, Sung-hoon says it’s a pity, but he has no choice to break his promise to Dong-seul.
As Director Baek shoots out the fuse box, sending the warehouse into darkness, Sung-hoon shoots Dong-seul. The bullet hits him in the shoulder but thankfully misses Soo-yeon.
Everyone scrambles in the darkness as Deuk-chun tries to save Soo-yeon, but Director Baek has already put her and Dong-seul in the car. Sung-hoon has his gun pointed directly at Jo-hye. He’s so close that the barrel of the gun touches her forehead.
Jo-hye knows that he’s not Sung-joon — so who is he, then? Sung-hoon grins as he tells her that he never said he was Sung-joon. Jo-hye just believed that he was. Then he grabs her and holds her hostage as he backs up to the car to make his getaway.
Just as Sung-hoon’s turning to open the car door, Jo-hye spins around and pushes him away, which gives Deuk-chun the opportunity to shoot at Sung-hoon without hurting Jo-hye.
Even though Sung-hoon quickly gets into the car, Deuk-chun’s bullet still managed to hit him in the side. Director Baek speeds away, and Deuk-chun soon follows in the car he’s borrowed from Mi-rae. A car chase ensues, but Director Baek manages to lose Deuk-chun.
Back at Sung-joon’s newfound garage of information, Sung-joon staggers back as the memories return. Mi-rae is concerned, but Sunbae intercepts her efforts to help Sung-joon sit down and rest, preferring to help Sung-joon himself. Sunbae is thrilled that Sung-joon shouldn’t need their help any more since Sung-joon has figured out who he is now.
But Sung-joon doesn’t think it’s safe here since Gi-dong knows where he lives, which means Sung-hoon (who Sung-joon refers to as his “dongsaeng”) could also figure it out. Sunbae doesn’t understand why Sung-joon would want to run away from his brother, but Sung-joon just laughs and admits it sounds strange.
At any rate, Mi-rae supports Sung-joon’s decision, and agrees they all should return to Sunbae’s safe house. Poor Sunbae.
Director Baek, pleased by his ability to lose Deuk-chun’s tail, worries over the fact that Sung-joon was shot. Sung-joon dismisses it as just a graze, but it looks pretty painful and bloody. Sung-joon is more concerned about getting Dong-seul’s kidney than about his own wound.
Right now, it’s more important that they return to the lair to remove Dong-seul’s kidney while he’s still alive. Director Baek agrees, and seems even more pleased that they now have the kidney and Soo-yeon.
Hyung-shik calls Deuk-chun, apologizing because they also lost Director Baek. But they promise to comb through the CCTV footage of the area and figure out where Director Baek and Sung-joon went.
Jo-hye’s team report the same thing, but at least they’ve managed to figure out that Deuk-chun is driving Mi-rae’s car. They’ve pulled up info on Mi-rae, but for now, Jo-hye tells them to focus on Soo-yeon’s kidnappers.
After she hangs up, though, she thinks about all the hints that Sung-hoon really is someone other than Sung-joon — and who could have tried to kill Dong-seul twenty-four years ago that looked exactly like Sung-joon/Sung-hoon.
Tennis Chaebol Lady is at the VIP hospital room, and it’s apparently her father who is the sick one. She also has a name, PARK SEO-JIN.
Seo-jin gently reassures her unconscious father that, even though her brother still hasn’t stopped by for a visit, he is taking good care of the company. She then gets a call, updating her that the kidney has been found. Seo-jin is delighted, asking that it be taken directly to the hospital.
Deuk-chun, still traumatized by his brief glimpse of Soo-yeon, calls Mi-rae. Deuk-chun wonders if Sung-joon has met the friend who Sung-joon said might have a clue about where Soo-yeon might be. Deuk-chun is stunned, though, when Mi-rae reveals that Sung-joon’s memories have returned.
At the garage-apartment, Sung-joon lifts up the mattress to reveal the hand-drawn portrait that tiny Sung-hoon did all those years ago. Sung-joon struggles to tamp down his emotions as he gently strokes the childishly drawn portrait.
Dong-seul wakes up in the medical basement of Sung-hoon’s lair. He must be having a deja vu flashback to the 1993 medical trial, because once again, he’s tied to the bed. Director Baek disapproves of Sung-hoon waking Dong-seul up since time is of the essence when it comes to kidney extraction, but Sung-hoon thinks it’s only fair that Dong-seul understand what’s happening to him.
Dong-seul quickly catches on that they’re going to take his kidney, like, right now, and begs Sung-hoon not to kill him. Dong-seul tells him that it’s pointless — his kidney is useless. Dong-seul desperately tries to plead his case, insisting that he only took the kidney save his own life.
Calling Sung-hoon a crazy bastard, Dong-seul says that Sung-hoon should be the one to die. It seems that Dong-seul is convinced that Sung-hoon is actually Doctor Lee.
Sung-hoon’s Cheshire grin fades when Director Baek reveals that they’re not doing the surgery here, but instead, Director Baek will be transporting Dong-seul to the hospital. Sung-hoon is not happy about the change of plans, but Director Baek points out that Sung-hoon still has the upper hand because Sung-hoon is the only one who knows who the other four people are that have Doctor Lee’s organs.
As the anesthetic starts to take effect, Dong-seul repeats that it’s pointless. The same disease he had in the medical trial has come back, and Doctor Lee’s kidney is now also diseased. That also wasn’t in Sung-hoon’s plan.
Sung-joon finds Gi-dong where he works as a car mechanic, telling his worried friend that his memories have returned. Oh, and Sung-joon needs to borrow Gi-dong’s car.
Sung-hoon’s bullet wound definitely looks pretty nasty. Sung-hoon tries to fix himself up by literally stapling his side together (ouch!), but he soon passes out on the floor of his medical basement.
This brings back a memory of a sick tiny Sung-hoon, and as a worried tiny Sung-joon looks on, a mysterious woman whose face we can’t see gently dabs at his face and gives tiny Sung-hoon some medication. As she turns to leave, tiny Sung-hoon grabs her arm, pleading with the woman not to leave, even calling her “Mom.” The woman tells him that he’ll feel better soon.
Grown Sung-hoon wakes up in confusion when he finds a pillow under his head and a cloth on his forehead. A concerned Soo-yeon asks how he’s doing — aw, she was the one who tended to him after he passed out. Soo-yeon helps him up, telling him he needs to go the hospital and wondering if she can call an ambulance for him.
Sung-hoon snatches his phone from her, and she starts to cry, wondering why he’s always angry with her. Soo-yeon tearfully points out that Sung-hoon wouldn’t let her return to her father — does that mean Sung-hoon is a bad guy?
Sung-hoon tells her that yes, he is, so she should stop caring about him and go back to sleep. But darling Soo-yeon says that no one deserves to be hurt — not even bad guys. Her father taught her that, and when Sung-hoon asks if Soo-yeon thinks her father is a good person, she confidently answers that he is.
Sung-hoon reveals that his injury is due to Deuk-chun shooting him, which shocks Soo-yeon. She finds it hard to believe, since her father told her he only uses a gun to threaten bad guys — not actually shoot them.
As Sung-hoon staggers to his feet, he gives a life-lesson to Soo-yeon: “Nice” is subjective. Just because someone is nice to one person, doesn’t mean they’re nice to everyone.
But Soo-yeon continues to prove that “nice” can be inherent, as she worries about Sung-hoon’s ability to make it up the stairs. She starts to cry when Sung-hoon shakes her off, and she asks him when he’ll let her see her father. He doesn’t answer as he slowly staggers upstairs, where he injects himself with his medicine.
As he watches the CCTV footage of Doctor Lee also injecting himself with the golden syringe, Sung-hoon remembers Dong-seul’s warning that his kidney is now useless.
Dong-seul is also now useless (and minus a kidney), because Jo-hye gets a call that his body has been found abandoned in a field. Not just any field, but the one in front of Deuk-chun’s precinct. This was no accident. Someone is toying with them.
Deuk-chun meets up with Sung-joon, who admits that his memories have returned. Sung-joon hands over the photo of Doctor Lee and tells Deuk-chun that he and Sung-hoon are this man’s clones. Deuk-chun’s bewildered face at receiving this news is priceless.
Meanwhile, Sung-hoon, still in pain although trying to hide it, demands to know what happened to Dong-seul’s kidney. Director Baek admits that the kidney was in as bad of a shape as Dong-seul told them. This means that Director Baek and Sung-hoon are also in a precarious position.
Seo-jin arranges flowers as Director Han (aka the guy once known as Big Boss that Director Baek reports to) informs Seo-jin of the same bad-kidney news. This means the stem cell cure never worked in the first place (back in 1993). She angrily smashes the vase of flowers on the floor, demanding to know what exactly Doctor Lee injected into himself, then.
Even more bad news: Chairman Park’s condition is getting worse. Seo-jin grabs the doctor, demanding the doctor save her father. But not all the money in the world can cure him. Even so, Director Han believes that the stem cell treatment is working — that is, the current stem cell treatment, the one that Soo-yeon was receiving.
Seo-jin gets a scary glint in her eye as she says they should give the treatment to Director Park. Her brother insists that it’s dangerous and that they haven’t been able to fully test it, so they don’t know what kind of dangerous side effects it could have. Because, y’know, Soo-yeon was kidnapped before they could finish.
But Seo-jin is confident, explaining to her clueless brother that since the lab test results on the rats did well, it should be find to give humans. Her brother is surprised she knows so much about the stem cell research. Keeping her knowledge of Soo-yeon’s whereabouts a secret, Seo-jin says all that matters is their father’s life.
Sung-joon gets Deuk-chun up to speed about Doctor Lee and the missing organs. Sung-joon also believes that his skill with a medical needle comes from sharing Doctor Lee’s memories. Actually, those are shared memories he had before, too, because Sung-joon made a living as an underground doctor performing illegal services for people who might not want to use an authentic hospital.
Deuk-chun asks the question we’ve all been wondering: Does Sung-joon also have Sung-hoon’s memories? Sung-joon isn’t sure, but he does remember waking up in what he thought was a hospital room, but now realizes it was Sung-hoon’s medical basement because he saw Soo-yeon there, too.
In a flashback, Sung-joon blearily starts to wake up in the medical basement as Director Baek tells Sung-hoon that the other clone’s organs are just as bad his own, and that at least Sung-hoon is getting death-defying injections.
Director Baek also blames Sung-hoon for making things complicated (ah, yes, his favorite complaint) since Sung-hoon not only left behind DNA evidence when he kidnapped Soo-yeon, but Deuk-chun saw his face.
Sung-hoon realizes that if they can’t use Sung-joon’s organs, they can at least use his DNA. That’s how Sung-joon ended up in the back of Director Baek’s car (and eventually at the bus station in Busan). On the drive, Sung-joon wakes up and tries to get his phone from his pocket, but Director Baek pulls over and tosses it aside.
The current Sung-hoon attempts to retrace his steps that day based on the vague memories he had of landmarks along the route, but isn’t able to figure out where the lair was — although he does find the abandoned phone. Deuk-chan says they should try looking again, and they head out, leaving Mi-rae behind to hold down the fort.
Hyung-shik and Soo-ho comb through CCTV footage near the field where Dong-seul’s body was found, and they spot Director Baek. Yay, a lead! But when Boon-suk and Song-yi arrive with lunch (Subway! I was wondering when we’d see you!), the detectives quickly hide what they’re working on. During their usual bickering, Boon-suk grouses that they should wait for Jo-hye so they can all eat together — but she’s having lunch with the chief prosecutor.
It’s a fancy, expensive boxed lunch, and she eyes it warily as she sits down, forcing a mouthful down when the chief prosecutor tells her to eat. Jo-hye knows this is actually his modus operandi before giving someone bad news. She reminds him that she still has a few days left based on their originally agreed upon due date.
The chief prosecutor reminds her that Dong-seul has been killed while under police protection, and they still have no idea where Deuk-chun or Sung-joon are. As much as I don’t like the chief prosecutor, he does have a point. The chief prosecutor suggests Jo-hye take a vacation for a couple of weeks, which is less of a suggestion and more of an order to stop working.
After the meeting, Jo-hye realizes that she’ll have to focus on something bigger than just catching Deuk-chun if she wants to save her job. Jo-hye thinks over all the odd connections between Sung-joon, Sung-hoon, and the man that Dong-seul said they had killed twenty-four years ago.
Jo-hye orders her team to look into the cash flow of any big pharmaceutical companies in 1992 and 1993. She wants to find out if there really was an illegal experiment happening back then, and the easiest way is to follow the money. She also wants to know everything they can find out about Doctor Lee.
Deuk-chun and Sung-joon retrace Sung-joon’s steps as far as he can remember, and Sung-joon describes the house as looking modern. Sung-joon also recalls seeing a sign on a telephone that helps pin down that the house must be near a certain temple. Deuk-chun gets Hyung-shik to send him pictures and addresses of any modern houses in the area, and yep, one of them is the lair, which Sung-joon recognizes.
The guys make their way there and creep up the driveway, but it seems no one is around. Deuk-chun wonders how they can get in, since the entrance seems pretty secure. But Sung-joon notices a pad that looks like it reads biometrics, and easily unlocks the door thanks to his identical DNA, which makes me question how seriously Sung-hoon — who knows there’s a clone out there — takes his security.
Deuk-chun and Sung-joon cautiously investigate the lair, but they don’t find anyone there until Sung-joon realizes there has to be a basement. They creep downstairs, but the hospital beds are empty. Just as they’re wondering where everyone is, since Deuk-chun recognizes it as the room he saw Soo-yeon, Sung-joon finds Sung-hoon passed out on the floor.
Deuk-chun is willing to leave Sung-hoon to die until Sung-joon points out that Sung-hoon is their only way of finding out where Soo-yeon is. As Sung-joon preps to sew up Sung-hoon’s wounds, Deuk-chun finds Sung-hoon’s phone and calls Director Baek (who, again, is actually named Cha Gil-ho, but for ease of recapping will forever be known as Director Baek).
Director Baek answers, assuming Sung-hoon is calling because Soo-yeon has disappeared. Deuk-chun silently hands the phone to Sung-joon, who hesitates before asking where Soo-yeon is. Sighing, Director Baek tells “Sung-hoon” that it’s not like he’s enjoying this, either, but he has to follow orders. Director Baek says they can talk in person since he’s almost at the lair.
Director Baek also has a security team with him, which is new, and he tells them to wait in the hall. Sung-joon, posing as Sung-hoon, greets Director Baek as though he’s just stepping out of the shower. Sung-joon-as-Sung-hoon casually asks after Soo-yeon, but Director Baek finds it odd that “Sung-hoon” referred to her by the informal “Soo-yeon-ie” and not the way Sung-hoon has been referring to her, which is the more the formal “Jang Soo-yeon.”
Sung-joon manages to act as imperious as the real Sung-hoon to coverup his gaffe, but Director Baek also finds it odd that “Sung-hoon” took a shower since he still has a fresh gunshot wound. At the stairs to the basement, Deuk-chun hides behind the door while the real Sung-hoon, neatly patched up by Sung-joon, is still passed out on the hospital bed.
This episode felt a little slower than the ones we’ve had so far, filled with more exposition to make sure everyone’s on the same page in terms of the cloning and organ stealing than any real edge-of-your-seat action. You could call it a “transition episode” since it’s led us to the this marvelous setup of Sung-joon now pretending to be Sung-hoon. All the slowness of the episode and “Yes, I know, I’d already figured that out” complaints are redeemed by my anticipation of this switcheroo, since I’m eager to see how Sung-joon — with his memories intact — will be able to persuade everyone that he’s really Sung-hoon. (Also, Yang Se-jong is going to win all my love forever if — or should I say when? — he proves how skillful an actor he is by portraying a character who’s portraying another character, which is also a character that he plays, yet is still convincing as that first character. That sentence sounds just as confusing as I think it would be to act out.)
I say the episode felt “slower,” but honestly it’s nice to have a bit of breather, and for once Sung-joon didn’t get beat up! Instead, Sung-hoon got shot — a clone just can’t catch a break — but at least there’s been a flip-flop in power. Sung-joon, with his memories returned and relatively pain-free body (rapidly aging organs notwithstanding) is now in a position of power, even if he’s not sure what it is yet. After so many episodes of the “good guys” getting knocked down — sometimes literally — I really hope the fact they’ve finally got a good lead on how to not only track down Soo-yeon, but figure out the truth of what happened in 1993, will mean that they’ll somehow manage to stay on top. Or at least gain more allies.
Jo-hye seems to be almost there, although she’s less of an ally than someone who is conveniently headed in the same direction. I still don’t trust her, but there’s a teeny-tiny kernel of hope that if she’s faced between choosing to save Soo-yeon or further her own career, she’ll do the right thing. I feel like that could be Jo-hye’s redemption arc, actually. We’ve had it battered into our heads that she’s all about the prestige and money and will do anything to get ahead, so a heroic sacrifice from her would actually mean a lot more since it shows just how much she would have to lose.
In that sense, I feel the same way about Sung-hoon. It’s easy to paint him as the “evil” clone and Sung-joon as the “good” clone, but clearly something happened to them when they were children that made their lives turn out very differently. Sung-hoon may seem to have less of a conscience than Sung-joon, but I can’t believe he’s truly “bad,” no matter what he says. After all, “bad” and “good” are subjective, as Sung-hoon pointed out, and even though he acts tough, I still have that faith there’s something still good in him. He’s just been treated really, really, really unfairly by those around him. I get the feeling that Sung-hoon may not have had the chance to escape whatever lab-rat lifestyle he and Sung-joon grew up in, whereas Sung-joon somehow got out to the orphanage. Even though Sung-joon’s life may not have been ideal either, at least he apparently got to have one.
I also want to believe that Sung-joon-as-Woo-hyun was working on a way to save Sung-hoon. He’s kept the photo under his bed, he calls Sung-hoon “brother,” and he’s been researching like crazy to figure out the connection between Doctor Lee and the men who stole the organs. Sung-joon doesn’t seem the type who would be doing all that just for himself, to save his own failing organs. Which does make me wonder when the clones’ organs started to fail. Sung-hoon has been getting his injections, and even though Sung-joon got the one injection while he was at the lair before he was dumped at the bus station, surely he was struggling to survive before then. Also, Sung-hoon seems to need the injections on an alarmingly regular basis, but again, Sung-joon has only received the one (that we know of, at least), and he hasn’t collapsed once since he got better at the abandoned clinic. Does that mean Sung-joon is a “better” clone than Sung-hoon? Hmmmm.
I like the fact that Doctor Lee’s organs aren’t infallible, because it adds another sense of danger and mystery that goes beyond “Whoever collects all five organs first, wins!” It throws a wrench into Sung-hoon’s plan to use the organs himself, but it also gives him leverage since he’s the only one who knows who the other four transplants are, and potentially their organs may still have some of the Magical Golden Injection left in the cells. Also, now that Soo-yeon is essentially kidnapped again, this means Sung-hoon can now partner up with Sung-joon and Deuk-chun to find not only the organs, but Soo-yeon as well (because no matter what he says, Sung-hoon has a soft spot for Soo-yeon). This excites me not only on a “Yay, more allies!” level but also on a shallow “Oooooh, think of having two Yang Se-jongs on my screen at the same time for the rest of the drama!” level. Er, I mean, a “Wow, OCN, what technical skills you have with the camera trickery, oh my,” level. Yeah.
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