Criminal Minds: Episode 9
As one parent desperately holds onto hope that her child is still alive, a hand reaches out and pulls her out of the darkness. Though the main task of the NCI team requires them to fight against the monsters of society, it also means that they save innocent lives. The show reminds us that not all heroes wear capes, and that courage can arise from even the least of us.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
After his dinner with Chief Director Baek, Ki-hyung sits alone in his car and takes a pill for his PTSD. The chief’s question continues to rattle Ki-hyung as he contemplates whether his presence has become a danger to the team.
A police officer seeks help from the NCI concerning the recent missing child Yuna, who disappeared at the amusement park. Hyun-joon asks why he thinks it might not be a simple missing person case, and the officer hands him a file of another missing child, Jin-woo, from eight years ago.
Min-young hands Hyun-joon a file on all the missing people over the last ten years. Eleven children are still missing from the same area as the amusement park, but no kidnappings were reported; they were filed as disappearances. Overhearing their conversation, Sun-woo asks if they’re investigating the amusement park case, and Hyun-joon explains how another child was reported missing at the same place in the same way eight years ago.
Sun-woo asks him if he thinks it might be the same culprit, and Min-young wonders why the criminal would start again after all these years. Hyun-joon says that it’s their duty to figure out why since there could be more victims.
Hyun-joon and Sun-woo arrive at an apartment complex and run into the landlord, who eagerly tells them about Jin-woo’s mom. The landlord complains that she won’t leave because her missing son might come back, and has become an alcoholic in the meantime.
They knock on Jin-woo’s mom’s door to no answer, but as they turn to leave, she frantically opens the door. She lets them inside, and empty soju bottles, medicine, and boxes of fliers about Jin-woo fill her small apartment.
Jin-woo’s mom is initially meek, but when Hyun-joon asks about Jin-woo, she stares at them in shock and answers their questions with more fortitude. She tells them that the same people who kidnapped her son stole Yuna, and gets up to show them something.
It’s a wall of information connecting the children who went missing in the same district as Jin-woo, and Jin-woo’s mom explains how she saw her son three years ago. Flashing back, Jin-woo’s mom had been reluctantly taken to a restaurant by a friend, and across the street, she spotted her son. She chased after Jin-woo, calling out his name, but as he turned back to look at her, he vanished before her eyes.
Sun-woo asks why she didn’t tell the police, and Jin-woo’s mom answers, “No one believed me. And because no one believed me, the truth became lies. Lies became illusions, and illusions became delusions.” She wondered if she was going crazy, but knows for certain that she saw her son that day.
Hyun-joon offers to help her find Jin-woo, but only if she promises to stop drinking. Jin-woo’s mom thinks back to her lonely search for her son, and we see her deteriorate as the years go by. She narrates, “Losing my child only took a moment, but I’m afraid looking for him will never end.”
Hyun-joon reports to the rest of the team about the missing children, and emphasizes the fact that Jin-woo’s mom’s information closely matches with their own. The rest of the team is on board with the mission, but Ki-hyung tells everyone that abduction cases are outside their jurisdiction.
The NCI team chases after Ki-hyung to convince him otherwise, and Sun-woo hands him a picture of a little girl, asking if he remembers what he said to her in the past. In flashback, Ki-hyung handed Sun-woo the picture and told her that he sometimes dreams of the monsters they encounter, but then he reminds himself of the children they save.
Sun-woo tells Ki-hyung that they saved the girl in the photo even though everyone else lost hope, and reminds him that even if it’s only a one percent chance, they must still try and save the child. Her words strike a chord with him, and Ki-hyung tells her to bring him the rest of the information.
A composite artist sketches a more recent image of Jin-woo according to his mom’s memory, and once he’s done, Jin-woo’s mom stares at the sketch, speechless.
Hyun-joon and Sun-woo begin their profiling at the amusement park as they imagine the kidnapping from the criminal’s viewpoint. Hyun-joon narrates the criminal’s actions as Sun-woo retraces Yuna’s mom’s movements, and they guess that while the woman was causing a distraction, the man carried Yuna away.
Sun-woo chases after the imaginary kidnapper, and watches the criminals escape in a van. They realize the kidnappers are working as a group, and Hyun-joon notes a third accomplice—the driver.
Nana searches through the database and finds a match with the composite sketch. Sun-woo and Hyun-joon also share their findings with the group, and tell Ki-hyung that they profiled three people. Ki-hyung grimly says that if a group is kidnapping children, then the kidnappings could have started before Jin-woo.
A woman eerily sings a well-known children’s song (“Why did You Come to my House?”) as a boy carries Yuna to a dark room. When Yuna wakes up on a dingy bed, she cautiously walks to the door and peeps through a hole. In the next room over, Yuna witnesses a lady call herself “mom” and scold a bunch of crying and disheveled children. Suddenly, a boy—who looks like Jin-woo –pops up and scares Yuna. She scrambles away and hides behind the bed, crying as echoes of a cracking whip fill the room.
Han asks Ki-hyung if the children could still be alive, especially Jin-woo, who’s 16 now. Ki-hyung says that it’s possible since Jin-woo was kidnapped when he was older. Ki-hyung envisions himself walking into the kidnappers’ hideout and watches as the male kidnapper whips a child.
Ki-hyung explains that the kidnappers probably sacrificed a child to keep the others obedient, and we see the female kidnapper hand a syringe to Jin-woo. Ki-hyung guesses that Jin-woo followed their commands to survive, and Han says that Jin-woo could be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. However, Ki-hyung still has a lingering question: Why did they kidnap the children?
Jin-woo takes a photo of Yuna, and advises her to remember her real name even when the kidnappers give her a new one. In voiceover, Ki-hyung wonders how the kidnappers kept the children hidden all these years, and on a bulletin board in the kidnappers’ hideout, photos of all the kidnapped children are posted.
It’s been over three days since Yuna’s disappearance, and the officers in charge attempt to close the case. As Yuna’s parents beg them to stay, the NCI team arrives, announcing their plans to take over. While Min-young speaks with the parents, Ki-hyung asks the officer in charge if he’s closing the case because the golden time has passed.
Sighing, the officer says that he’s done multiple cases like this and thinks the culprit is a pedophile. The NCI team disagrees, and Ki-hyung tells him that they believe it’s a serial kidnapper and need to reinvestigate.
Yuna’s parents approach Ki-hyung and beg him to say that their daughter is still alive. With some hesitation, Ki-hyung reassures them that she is.
Nana finds a suspect, Yoon Seok-ho, after searching the security camera footage, and tells the group that Yoon was an employee of a company that subcontracts with Yuna’s dad’s company. However, Yuna’s dad doesn’t recognize the man.
Meanwhile, Yoon watches videos of Yuna alone in the dark. Hyun-joon and Sun-woo arrive at a house, most likely Yoon’s, and when the lights go out after they ring the doorbell, they decide to break in.
In the kidnappers’ hideout, the other children (conspicuously missing Jin-woo) wake up Yuna. They plan to escape while the kidnappers have left to get another child—because whenever a new kid comes, someone dies.
Hyun-joon signals to Sun-woo to go towards the back, and he carefully makes his way through the front. Once inside, he notices Yoon hiding behind a wall, but Yoon dashes out the back door before Hyun-joon can react. Though Sun-woo sees him run out, she’s too slow to stop him.
The children slowly climb up the stairs to make their exit, but the door is blocked by a washing machine. After some pushing, they manage to open the door enough to escape. Elsewhere, Hyun-joon chases after Yoon, and Sun-woo trails behind.
As Sun-woo passes an alley, the children pass by the same one, and Sun-woo turns around in time to see their receding shadows. The children walk down a dark street with blinking lights—when suddenly, the kidnappers appear and apprehend them, clapping hands over their mouths to keep them quiet.
Sun-woo reaches the same blinking streetlights, and just around the corner, the kidnappers drag the children away. As Sun-woo turns toward their direction, the kidnappers disappear into the shadows, and Sun-woo misses them by mere seconds.
Meanwhile, Yoon runs towards the subway station, but a ringing sound stops him from fleeing. Using this moment, Hyun-joon tackles Yoon and arrests him.
Nana discovers that Yoon’s wife and their unborn child died, and coincidentally, Yuna’s dad’s company had a major recall on a product. After some more digging, Nana tells the group that the company tested its products on its employees, and it seems that the recalled product may have led to the death of Yoon’s wife and child.
While the police search Yoon’s house, Hyun-joon finds an envelope filled with pictures of Yuna, and Sun-woo discovers Yoon’s prescriptions. Throwing the photos in front of Yoon, Hyun-joon asks him where Yuna is, but he refuses to answer.
Hyun-joon mentions Yoon’s wife and how she was the only one not approved as an industrial accident, and Yoon accuses the company of experimenting on his family. He claims to have kidnapped Yuna, but Sun-woo interrupts the interrogation.
She informs Hyun-joon that Yoon is taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, and most likely has panic attacks. Remembering their chase, Hyun-joon realizes that Yoon didn’t escape into the subway station because he was having a panic attack.
Hyun-joon informs Ki-hyung about Yoon’s agoraphobia, which means that Yoon can’t be the culprit. Thus when Yoon insists that he kidnapped Yuna, Sun-woo asks him why he’s lying. She says that he must have felt angry when someone else stole his opportunity to kidnap Yuna, but realized that the pain inflicted on the family is still the same. She asks why he ran from them, but Yoon stares at her with frightened eyes.
In the kidnappers’ den, the children kneel in a line with their hands taped, and refuse to eat the food Jin-woo gives them. Seeing Yuna cry, Jin-woo offers her a chocolate bar, but the boy next to her smacks it away, yelling at Jin-woo to let them go.
The kidnappers walk in, and the female kidnapper takes the uneaten food from Jin-woo and drops a piece in front of each child. Everyone but Yuna eats the food, so another child warns her to eat or else she’ll be taken to the “glass room.”
As Yuna continues to cry, the female kidnapper kneels down and threatens to punish her if she doesn’t behave. When she grabs Yuna’s arm, the other children beg for mercy, but once the female kidnapper threatens to put them in the glass room, they stay silent.
The female kidnapper leads Yuna to the glass room, which is filled with all sorts of mirrors—plane, curved, distorted. A quick flashback reveals a woman laughing maniacally as a young girl cried in the same room. Yuna has been dressed in a prim white dress and wears bright red lipstick, looking like a dress-up doll, while the kidnapper calls her daughter and says that the glass room is for bad children to look at their bad faces to reflect on their wrongdoings.
She cradles Yuna in her arms while singing the children’s song from before, and asks Yuna if she knows the meaning behind the song. She explains that the song was written when Yuna’s mother sold her to them, and Yuna cries louder. Frustrated, the kidnapper shakes her to stop, and yells at Yuna to repent before she leaves.
The police drag suspect Yoon away, and Sun-woo wonders what he was trying to hide. She digs through his photos for a clue, and finds a gray van captured in multiple pictures. With this new hint, Hyun-joon imagines the scenario when Yoon snapped those photos of Yuna from afar, picturing himself in the scene.
Hyun-joon guesses that Yoon discovered the suspicious van while stalking Yuna, and Sun-woo realizes that this means the kidnappers knew Yuna before Yoon did. Hyun-joon suggests that they check Yoon’s black box for more clues.
Nana looks at the security footage of Yuna, and Min-young says that the kidnappers must have crossed paths with her at least once. Han notices Yuna smiling in one frame, but they can’t figure out why. Zooming in further, they discover Yoon taking pictures from a distance.
Cross-matching with Yoon’s photos, they learn that a car appeared in front of Yuna, so Sun-woo traces Yuna’s footsteps, reimagining the scene. Hyun-joon explains that none of the acquaintances owned a gray van, and none of the pictures show a clear image of the license plate. Undeterred, Sun-woo says that the kidnappers must have left some trace behind.
While investigating Yuna’s room, Sun-woo sees animal dolls and stickers, and hears from Mom that Yuna has allergies and can’t be around dogs or cats. The NCI team look over the images of Yuna’s room, and share ideas with each other.
Hyun-joon says that the kidnappers probably own a house to hide the children, which means they haven’t moved for a while. Sun-woo adds that they most likely have specialized jobs which don’t require strict working hours, and Ki-hyung tells the group that two of the kidnappers are probably related or married. The team splits up as they look through the images for more clues.
Sun-woo wonders if there might be any reports if abnormal psychological behavior is involved, and Han guesses that the culprits suffer from separation anxiety disorder. Min-young says that they could have been abused or exposed to violence as children, and Ki-hyung agrees about the possibility of a traumatic past history.
Min-young asks if the kidnappers could be a type of hoarder, and Hyun-joon notes that if it’s true, then the criminals must be used to kidnapping and discarding children. Ki-hyung points out that given the kidnappers’ current time-consuming pattern, it’s likely that there were some failed attempts, and that means they may be able to find reports of such incidents.
Ki-hyung decides to release the information to the media, but Sun-woo objects, citing the danger the children would be in if the kidnappers feel threatened. Hyun-joon says that they need to make the case public and find more commonalities among the victims’ parents, so despite the risks, Ki-hyung chooses to go public.
Min-young holds a press conference and reports the criminals’ profiles and kidnapping patterns. She urges anyone who has experienced something similar to share information, and a young boy watches Min-young on the television and directs his mother’s attention to the screen.
The kidnapped children gather around Yuna’s bed, urging her to eat something, and Yuna begs them to stay with her. The oldest girl tells Yuna that they have to return to their own rooms before they’re caught, but it’s too late as the female kidnapper and Jin-woo enter the room.
The female kidnapper reaches for Yuna, but the children block her path, trying to protect Yuna. Angered, the female kidnapper raises her hand to slap the oldest boy, but Jin-woo intervenes. Though the boy is saved from a slap, he’s chained up for his execution.
Jin-woo asks the female kidnapper if he could do it, calling her “mom,” and she lights up and happily hands him the syringe. Jin-woo whispers to the boy to stay still, and stabs the needle into the boy’s sleeve, missing his skin. Noticing something off, the female kidnapper throws Jin-woo aside and realizes his betrayal.
She screams at Jin-woo and tries to pull him back, but he’s too strong for her. However, the male kidnapper arrives and easily grabs Jin-woo away. Though Jin-woo fights back to shield the other children, he’s no match for the grown man and cries hopelessly as he’s dragged away.
This episode is solely about the kidnapping case, and as a result, it feels more focused than when it tries to balance multiple storylines in one episode. Though we get less moments and revelations about our NCI team, I thought the show handled the eeriness of the criminal and the deprivation felt by Jin-woo’s mom well. The scene where we see the progression of her weariness and hopelessness was well executed, and portrayed a lot about her character in such a short amount of time. In addition, I find the cases about everyday possibilities (just the thought of losing a child makes me panicky) much more compelling than threats of epidemics sweeping the nation.
For the most part, the show deals heavily with criminals and how the NCI team fights against them, but for this case, there was much more emphasis about saving lives rather than catching criminals. This brought up some interesting questions about the role and responsibilities of the NCI team, especially concerning the victim’s family. Compared to the other cases, the victims’ families were given a lot of screentime, and it was interesting how some of the team members deliberately chose to give hope to the parents. Ki-hyung obviously gave hope to Yuna’s parents when they asked for it, but Hyun-joon’s words and actions towards Jin-woo’s mom also seemed to be a similar act. It makes the NCI team feel almost idealistic in the way they doggedly chase after the bad guys even if there’s only a one percent chance for success, and while their main task is to catch the criminals, at the end of the day, they’re also saving lives and bringing hope to the world.
While the camerawork makes me sigh because of all the fuzzy images, I do like the director’s depiction of the NCI team’s profiling. By having them imagine events, the audience walks alongside both the victim and the profiler, allowing the viewer to experience the moments and the profiler’s thought process. While some of the team’s deductions seem to be based more on guesswork than evidence, I did like how this episode revealed clues piece by piece as the team dug deeper into the case and really examined the evidence. There weren’t any major revelations that came out of thin air, but rather, we saw how the team continuously pored over the photos and used their knowledge to reach reasonable conclusions. In addition, the characters built upon evidence others found, and it felt more like a team effort with actual discussions between members.
Overall, Criminal Minds doesn’t seem to offer anything new in terms of the genre since it feels like most Korean procedural dramas. That’s not a bad thing, but it does help reorientate expectations. I still think the show’s strengths lie in its characters rather than its attempts at intricate plots and criminals, so I do hope we get to learn more about the team in future episodes.
- PD Lee Jung-hyo quits tvN’s Criminal Minds
- Premiere Watch: Falsify, Criminal Minds
- Assembling our profiler team in extended teaser for Criminal Minds
- Criminal Minds promo galore with takedowns and stakeouts
- High-speed chases through the streets of Seoul in new Criminal Minds teaser
- Script read clip and character stills for tvN’s Criminal Minds
- Premiere date and teaser released for Criminal Minds
- Park Shi-eun joins Criminal Minds as Lee Jun-ki’s first love
- Profilers team up to take down serial killers in tvN’s Criminal Minds
- Lee Jun-ki’s tense gun standoff in first stills for Criminal Minds