Black: Episode 10
There’s a frisson of tingling excitement when you realize a script has been thoughtfully and painstakingly crafted, where every detail matters and will have meaning in the end. Black might have started as an unassuming, confusing mess of a show, but all those seemingly unrelated plot-threads are now being expertly woven into an intricate tapestry of intrigue and wonder.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
Black confronts Moo-gang’s mother with the photo of Joon and Moo-gang. Mom tells him that it’s a photo of him and his older brother, who died a few days later in a hit-and-run accident, although the driver who hit Joon was never caught.
Mom calls Joon, “Moo-chan,” explaining that “Joon” was the name given to him by his birth mother, but when he moved with them to Seoul, he decided to make a new start by changing his name to fit his birth father’s family.
Before Mom married Moo-gang’s father, he’d had a tryst with Joon’s mother, resulting in Joon’s birth. Mom and her husband had agreed to take care of Joon when his mother couldn’t, presumably when she was sent to jail. Moo-gang’s mother explains that Joon and Moo-gang were very close, only one year apart, and Joon always looked after Moo-gang. After Joon died, Moo-gang wore the red bracelet Ha-ram made as a way to honor his brother.
Black ponders over everything Moo-gang’s mother has told him, wondering what Ha-ram will do when she finds out that Joon actually died years ago. He quickly hides the photograph when Ha-ram arrives at his home, lugging a guitar case.
It’s the guitar that Joon left with her before he moved Seoul. She wants him to play it again, right now, and Black stutters that he’s forgotten, y’know, because of that whole memory loss thing. Ha-ram’s convinced he must still have some muscle memory, but Black’s relieved when the case seems to be locked and it won’t open.
That doesn’t stop Ha-ram, who tries to break it open with a screw driver. Thankfully for Black’s lack of musical skills, she’s distracted when she notices that Black doesn’t have a scar on his hand, one that Joon got while living in Mujin. Black tries to shoo Ha-ram out, but she sees him hiding the photo. Assuming it’s a pornographic picture, she teasingly tries to take it from him, but he holds it out of reach, unwilling to have her learn that Joon is actually dead.
In the morning, the detectives get word that the prosecutor has refused their request for an arrest warrant for Sang-min, which means he’s now released. They’re not happy, but they’re unable to stop Royal Group’s power and influence. Man-ho’s been busy calling in favors, using his political connections with a senator to help clear Sang-min’s name.
Black scoffs as he watches the news report that Sang-min regrets his actions, and the prosecution doesn’t think he would be a flight risk, which is why they let him return home.
Man-soo sees his brother and nephew arrive at the house, free from consequence, and he becomes more determined to find proof that Man-ho tried to have him killed. Man-soo realizes that Black was actually a witness of the attempted-murder.
When Man-soo asks him what he remembers happened that night, Black insists he didn’t see anything. It’s not like he could have followed the potential killer, anyway; not with the way Man-soo had his legs wrapped around Black’s body. Ha, I love the way Black flounces out, flipping his blazer back as though it’s his Reaper-like long trench coat. Man-soo’s still confused, though, because he’s confident he saw Black reaching for the killer that night.
Black arrives at the police station in time to see Kwang-kyun being yelled at for attacking a prosecutor. Wait, did Kwang-kyun actually bite the prosecutor? Pffft. Looks like “Crazy Dog” and his anger issues are not reacting well to the news of Sang-min’s release. Black’s primary concern, though, is for someone to teach him how to use social media.
Man-soo returns home, although he doesn’t stay in his room for long because Man-ho’s security guys drag him back outside where Man-ho’s practicing his golf swing. Uh-oh. Man-ho says that Man-soo should have better manners than to accuse his own brother of trying to kill him, but Man-soo breaks free from the bodyguards’s grasp to punch Man-ho in the face. Yes!
In return, Man-ho has one of his men bring Sip-gyeong out. He mockingly calls the dog “a witness,” asking Sip-gyeong if he saw Man-ho try to kill Man-soo. Man-ho brings up the golf club as if to hit Sip-gyeong, and Man-soo drops to his knees, begging for forgiveness, pleading with Man-ho to hit him instead of his dog.
As if Man-ho needs an invitation to beat up Man-soo, which he does, repeatedly. Man-ho is furious that Man-soo didn’t at least stay quiet if he wasn’t going to take the blame for Sang-min’s attack on Tiffany. Sip-gyeong breaks free from his leash and attacks Man-ho, biting at the man’s leg, which only makes Man-ho turn his anger on the dog. Man-ho beats Sip-gyeong to death with his golf club.
Man-soo, in pain from his own beating and stunned by Sip-gyeong’s brutal demise, is unable to resist as Man-ho makes Man-soo sign a waiver, declaring he’ll give up his Royal Group inheritance. Ugh, Man-ho is officially the worst, especially since he dips Man-soo’s thumb in Sip-gyeong’s blood in lieu of an ink pad.
Watching from upstairs is an amused Sang-min, who tells a friend over the phone that Korea is a great place to be if you’re a underage chaebol with criminal tendencies — you’re not held accountable for any of your actions, especially when you have a father who can pull some strings and get you off the hook. Sang-min then promises his friend to hook him up with marijuana later, laughing that everyone believes the story that he mistook a cigarette for weed.
Later, Sang-min wakes up in the middle of the airport. It looks like he’s trying to flee the country, which is a big no-no since he’s still under investigation. Even worse, marijuana — and illegal substance in Korea — is found in his suitcase. It’s impossible for Man-ho to cover for his son now, especially since footage of Sang-min’s bragging phone call has gone viral.
Netizens speculate that whomever leaked the video of Sang-min’s phone call must also be the same person who released the photos of Byung-shik, and they’re not wrong. Black used his teleportation ability to get inside Sang-min’s room, and then secretly filmed the conversation (which is why he needed someone to show him how to post it online).
Black then took Sang-min to the airport, planting the marijuana he found in Sang-min’s room in the suitcase. The vigilante hero for justice strikes again.
On his way to work, Man-soo sees a woman silently protesting about the unfair treatment of her son, who seems to have died. The woman is actually Man-soo’s birth mother, and Man-soo remembers going to her house as a young boy, begging to live with her instead of with his birth father. Even back then, Man-soo was scared of Man-ho.
But Man-soo’s birth motherforcefully telling him that she’s no longer his mother and that’s she’s pregnant with another child. Aw, baby Man-soo even has a puppy, which is the wrong breed if it is supposed to represent a baby Sip-gyeong, but at least it shows that dogs were likely the only loyal family Man-soo’s ever had.
Joseon and Hip-hop hilariously teleport their way out of a manhole. Not so hilarious is their next reaping assignment: Man-soo’s birth mother.
Man-ho is not only annoyed that his son’s scandal means bad press for Royal Group, but that Man-soo has actually managed to turn Royal Insurance around and is making a profit. Man-ho stubbornly insists on selling the insurance company, anyway, and then orders work to continue on building the Royal Group mall.
The mall has been on hold since Man-ho is building it on the same site as the Mujin mall collapse, and the protestors have been interfering. But he orders the crew to get to work, anyway.
Moo-gang’s mother calls the “Mujin Mom” — who’s actually Joon’s birth mother — asking to meet. She tells Joon’s mother about Moo-gang’s accident and how he’s lost his memory, then asks her to avoid talking to Moo-gang. She already blames Joon’s mother for being the reason Moo-gang left his job in America to become a detective in Korea. She doesn’t want Joon’s mother bothering Moo-gang anymore.
Joseon and Hip-hop patiently follow Man-soo’s birth mother as she meets with a doctor at a coffee shop, believing her son, Kyung-soo, died unfairly. Hip-hop wonders how Man-soo’s mother will die, until Joseon reminds him that Reapers aren’t supposed to show pity. Hip-hop agrees, admitting he’s always wanted to be like the cold-hearted and ruthless Black — well, at least until Black’s recent discovery of human emotions.
Black finds the two Reapers at the coffee shop. He clues them in about the half-brother relationship between Moo-gang and Joon, and Joseon’s delighted that it sounds exactly like the plot to a drama. Hee! Black is annoyed that he’s not in Joon’s body, though. He assumes that if Ha-ram figures out it’s actually Moo-gang’s body, Ha-ram won’t want to keep helping him since Moo-gang isn’t her first love.
Hahaha, it’s hilarious that he’s having this expressive discussion with Joseon and Hip-hop, but to all the human eyes around them, it looks like he’s talking to thin air. Hip-hop reminds him that with the missing capsule, Black is supposed to stay close to Ha-ram. Black, annoyed that he forgot about that, immediately teleports to her apartment.
Ha-ram’s not home, and neither does she answer his phone. Black’s annoyance fades away when he sees the stone she found tossed aside in his yard. It’s the stone that she used to trip over but he had removed. She’s drawn his face on it, much to his amusement, until he realizes that it’s not really his face, but Moo-gang’s.
Black stares into the mirror, wishing that he had a face of his own.
Aw, it turns out that Moo-gang’s chief actually took a pay cut as punishment for Kwang-kyun’s “Crazy Dog” actions. Missing-finger’s dirty detective taunts the chief for his ramshackle team taking on Sang-min’s case, knowing it will only cause them trouble. But the chief staunchly stands up for his team, insisting that Sang-min attacked Moo-gang — one of their own — so of course they couldn’t let anyone else investigate it.
Black teleports into one of the stalls, but stays put to eavesdrop as the dirty detective warns the chief that going against Royal Group will only end in disaster, since Man-ho is backed by a powerful senator who is on track to become the next president of Korea. The chief doesn’t care, though — he’ll take on the entire Blue House if it means defending his men.
Black exists the stall in a cheerful mood, bewildering both So-tae and the chief as Black expresses his appreciation for them (still in a very arrogant Black-like manner, of course, yet still somehow adorable nonetheless).
The Royal Group construction crew hits buried steel beams as they excavate for the mall’s foundation. When they move the beams, they’re shocked and horrified to discover a long-buried body.
Joseon and Hip-hop continue to follow Man-soo’s birth mother, and Hip-hop can’t stop worrying about how she’ll die. He suggests they ask Black to have Ha-ram take a look at the Shadow and see if there’s a way to save the woman’s life. Joseon firmly points out that Hip-hop that he’s not exactly acting like a Reaper right now.
Hip-hop’s body suddenly starts to turn into a black cloud. With fear in his eyes, Hip-hop asks Joseon what’s going on.
Ha-ram arrives at Royal Group, but the entrance is blocked by a security team as Congressman Kim gives a press conference, declaring that Royal Group should reveal what really happened with Byung-sik and Mujin mall.
The protesters, fired up by his speech, rush to the office building, demanding to meet with Man-ho, but the security team holds them back.
Ha-ram still manages to get overrun by the protestors, dropping her bag — which includes the photo of Seung-chul with his parents. Black finds her there and helps her get back on her feet. One of the protestors gets a call that a body was found at the construction site, and they all hurry to the hospital to find out which of the missing students has now been found.
Ha-ram follows, thinking the body might be Seung-chul’s.
Kwang-kyun interrogates Tiffany’s boss who used to work at the Singing Pumpkin, although he’s perhaps more interested in what she knew about Clara than about Jin-sook. The woman tells him that Clara actually ran away with Jin-sook twenty years ago, taking all of the Singing Pumpkin money with them.
After Clara and Jin-sook arrived in Seoul, they parted ways, so the woman doesn’t know what happened. She does know that there was another girl who went with them — Seon-young.
Soo-wan is still alive, but only because she’s promised to help Missing-finger find the video tape. She thought it was hidden in Moo-gang’s secret room, but Missing-finger knows that’s not the case since he was the one who ransacked it, and it wasn’t there. Soo-wan promises to find the tape for him if he lets her go.
Missing-finger agrees to let her go, warning her that if she tries anything funny, then he’ll cut off all her limbs. Coming from anyone else, that would seem like an exaggerated empty threat, but I’m pretty sure Missing-finger actually means it.
Kwang-kyun’s on the hunt for the mysterious Seon-young. As he flips through Mujin high school’s old record books, he notices that a page is missing. The administrator remembers that Moo-gang had asked about the same thing, which makes Kwang-kyun realize that Moo-gang was looking into Seon-young at least month before his accident.
The forensic doctors identify the newly discovered body — it’s Hyun-soo, one of the Mujin students that had been missing in the mall collapse and Seung-chul’s rap-loving friend. As Hyun-soo’s anguished parents cling to each other, Hip-hop stands in front of Joseon, bewildered that his Reaper body has changed to that of a middle school boy. Joseon explains that Hip-hop’s true self must have finally been found — Hip-hop is actually Hyun-soo.
Ha-ram is a little disappointed that the body wasn’t Seung-chul’s, but since she’s already in Mujin, she decides to visit his parent’s urns and leave the photo of them with their son.
Black gives her some privacy, wandering around the columbarium until his eye catches a familiar face — Kim Joon, smiling from a photograph next to his urn. Joon’s mother is visiting, too, and she’s surprised to see Moo-gang. He doesn’t recognize her, even though she calls him by name.
Joon’s mother finds it strange that Moo-gang was there visiting Joon’s ashes even though he supposedly doesn’t have any memory of Joon. Ha-ram calls out for Black, calling him “Joonie Oppa” (which also confuses Joon’s mother, making her wonder if she’s heard correctly). Black smootly blocks Ha-ram’s way so she can’t see Joon’s urn.
Kwang-kyun is suspicious about Moo-gang’s off-the-books investigation, wondering what it was that made an accountant from America decide to become a Seoul detective, especially when Moo-gang didn’t have the stomach for it (literally).
Soo-wan is back in her apartment, and she opens up a suitcase holding Moo-gang’s old blood-stained clothes. Her voice catches with emotion as she says it would have been better if they had never met.
A flashback shows Soo-wan at the columbarium, where she overhears Moo-gang, having recently arrived from America, apologizing to his hyung for taking so long to visit him. Moo-gang promises to visit Joon again, and leaves without noticing Soo-wan.
Later, Moo-gang is stabbed in the gut while working on a case, and Soo-wan ends up being the ER doctor attending to him. Moo-gang eventually comes up with more and more ridiculous reasons to be admitted to the ER just to see Soo-wan, who gradually begins to anticipate his visits. That brings them to the moment where Moo-gang tells her that his chest is bothering him, and he presses Soo-wan’s hand over his heart so she can feel it beating.
In the present day, Soo-wan starts to cry as she wishes she had treated Moo-gang coldly back then, so that none of this would have happened. She resolutely shuts the suitcase containing Moo-gang’s belongings.
Ha-ram returns home to find her mother waiting for her. Even though Ha-ram refuses to discuss it, Mom knows that Ha-ram saw a Shadow by her stepfather. Mom pleads with Ha-ram to help prevent her stepfather from dying because he’s the only one with matching bone marrow to Ha-ram’s stepbrother, who’s dying of leukemia. That’s news to Ha-ram.
Showing off the injuries she’s received from saving Tiffany’s life, Ha-ram angrily asks if Mom is more interested in saving a boy that’s not even her flesh-and-blood instead of being concerned about her biological daughter. Ha-ram slams the door behind her as she enters her apartment, where she tries her best to not think about her dying stepbrother.
But it’s to no avail, because she eventually finds herself in the cancer ward, cautiously watching her stepbrother sleep. There’s clearly a Shadow next to him. Reluctantly, Ha-ram decides to at least look at her stepfather’s Shadow.
Meanwhile, Kwang-kyun gets more information about Clara’s skeleton. There was a small trace of arsenous acid in her teeth, which is odd because the acid, once used in dyes and other preservatives, was outlawed in 1986.
Kwang-kyun thinks it’s strange that an illegal substance that’s no longer used was found on a body that was buried twenty years ago, until he discovers that there was an industrial dye factory that had been illegally using the acid. The factory was shut down in 1996, and no surprise where that factory was located: Mujin.
Ha-ram’s tracked down her stepfather to a temp labor office, where, desperate for money, he’s begged his way into being hired as part of a group to intimidate protesters. Ha-ram grows worried when she realizes that more than one of the men in that group have a Shadow following them.
Black, despite his frustration that Ha-ram never seems to stay safe at home, has been patiently waiting outside for Ha-ram. When she asks if he brought his car, without hesitation he tells her to follow him. Aw, maybe he’s finally figuring out that it’s pointless telling her what to do and instead should just accept that she’s going to try and save lives, no matter what.
Hyun-soo’s parents officially grieve for their dead son. Hyun-soo watches them, tears in his eyes as he tells Joseon that he remembers everything that happened leading up to his death — from ignoring young Ha-ram’s desperate warning not to go the movie theatre until the moment the mall suddenly collapsed, trapping him and Seung-chul under a beam.
Despite both boys being afraid and in pain, Seung-chul confidently told Hyun-soo that the adults would find them and save them. Hyun-soo cried, confessing that the last thing he told his mother was to stop trying to make him eat breakfast that morning. Seung-chul reassuringly told his friend that they’ll survive and he’ll be able to eat breakfast every day for the rest of his life.
Just then, the boys scream as the rest of the building collapsed, fatally crushing them.
Sobbing, Hyun-soo asks Joseon why he wasn’t able to remember who he was until just now, and why he thought he was a pure-born Reaper. Joseon tells him that he’s actually a “missing person.”
Joseon explains that missing people aren’t in their natural human form as Reapers, because their bodies are buried somewhere that no one has yet found. But once their bodies are found, then they turn into their true selves and regain their memories.
Hyun-soo asks about his Reaper number, 416, and Joseon confirms that the number correlates to the day that he died: April 16th. Weeping, Hyun-soo watches his grieving parents, wondering how they got so old.
Kwang-kyun enters the old dye factory, searching around until he sees a bottle of arsenous acid. That’s enough to confirm his theory that Clara was killed here, and he imagines her body on the floor. All this time he thought she had run away from him, but now he knows she was murdered.
Ha-ram and Black follow the thug-for-hire vans, wondering why they’re headed to Mujin. Kwang-kyun sees Moo-gang’s car and speeds to follow, cutting them off and forcing Black out of the car. Kwang-kyun demands Black tell him everything he knows about Clara’s death, but Black’s has no idea what he’s talking about.
Black opens Clara’s file, shocked to see his old Reaper partner’s face staring back at him in the “before” photo of Clara’s gender change surgery. Bewildered, Black doesn’t understand how a pure-blood Reaper could have the face of someone who was human. A flashback shows his old partner, staring sadly and longingly at Kwang-kyun, who was overseeing the scene were the Truck of Doom killed Ha-ram’s ex-boyfriend.
Hyun-soo realizes that Black’s old partner was a missing person, but turned into his original form when Clara’s skeleton was found. Hyun-soo wonders if Clara went to heaven, but Joseon sadly says that the sins of those who abuse and toy with children are never forgotten.
Hyun-soo wonders where he’ll end up, and Joseon reassures him he’ll join all his friends in heaven. Hyun-soo then asks if Black is also a missing person, and Joseon solemnly says that he is.
The Mujin mall protestors stand on the construction site for Royal Group’s mall, shouting that the construction should stop. Pouring out of the black vans are the thugs-for-hire, who immediately start beating up the protestors.
It’s chaos as the thugs kick and batter the protestors, and Ha-ram rushes in, trying to pull her stepfather away.
But all Ha-ram can do is look around and see the multitude of Shadows. The Reapers all stand around, patiently waiting to reap the souls that will die in the skirmish. Black runs after Ha-ram and dives into the fray, fighting off the thugs and shielding Ha-ram with his body.
From their rooftop vantage point, Hyun-soo and Joseon watch the battle unfold down below. Hyun-soo wonders where Black’s body is buried. Joseon doesn’t know, adding that from now on, that’s something Black must discover on his own.
Ooof. What an amazing yet gut-wrenching episode. When we first discovered that pure-blood Reapers were actually missing people, I immediately thought of Clara, wondering what happened to her when her skeleton was discovered — but I wasn’t expecting that. I had totally forgotten about Black’s original partner and the strange, melancholy way he acted during his last reaping assignment. The longing way he gazed back at all the people frantic in the street made me think he wanted to stay a little longer in the human world, but I couldn’t figure out why — now I know. Even though Clara may be in hell, enduring the punishment for dragging children into her ring of prostitution, at least she got to have one last look at the love her of life. Sniffle, sniffle.
I actually love the concept of the “missing people,” since it essentially confirms that Black is Joon. Based on the beginning of the show where Black dove into the water and found the skeleton in the car, wondering if it was really him, I think we all can guess where Joon’s missing body is hidden. Where Joon’s body was not, however, was on the road after that hit-and-run case. If that were really him, he wouldn’t be a missing person, and Black wouldn’t currently exist. I’m not sure why the lies and cover up, but I’m sure that will solved in due time.
I’m still puzzling over the Reaper numbering convention, though. I understand the logic of numbering them based on their date of death, but what kind of date is 444? For that matter, what kind of date is Joseon’s 007 (and where has his body been missing all these hundreds of years)? Unless, of course, it’s not a Gregorian date, which I will accept, but I am expecting an explanation eventually since this writer isn’t the type to have such lazy mistakes. There does seem to be some importance about the dates, however. Based on Hyun-soo’s number, the Mujin mall collapsed on April 16th, Clara was killed on April 19th, and Joon was reportedly found dead on the road on the 20th (according to the date on his urn). That’s a lot to happen in one week. Not that it all had to have happened in the same week of the same year, but April seems to be a pretty, ah, killer month.
This also confirms my suspicion that the Mujin mall collapse is a thinly disguised representation of the Sewol ferry disaster, where hundreds of people — particularly school children — lost their lives on April 16th, 2014. Hearing Seung-chul reassure Hyun-soo that they should just wait for the adults to save them was eerily reminiscent of the way the ferry victims apparently stayed put and waited, as instructed, instead of trying to escape. It also brings the impact of the fictional Mujin mall collapse into greater focus, since if it’s supposed to represent such a shocking tragedy like the Sewol ferry, then it’s no wonder that families are protesting the construction corruption all these years later.
Even though I really loved getting a deeper explanation of how the Reaper world works (despite not fully understanding it yet), my favorite part of the episode was watching Ha-ram wrestle with the dilemma of helping her stepfather in order to save her stepbrother. She’s been willing to do nearly anything to save a stranger’s life, only to stubbornly refuse when she’s confronted with saving someone who actually means something to her — and someone who she believes has made her life a living hell. I enjoyed watching her struggle with her inner conflict of not wanting to help someone she hates, but knowing that her intervention could save the life of an innocent child (who still means something to her, despite her protests that they’re not related).
No matter her parentage or what her ability to see Death says about her, Ha-ram is still totally human, with all the petty, selfish desires that come with it — but she also has an altruistic streak where she doesn’t want to see the innocent get hurt, not if she can possibly help prevent it. That’s what makes her such a likable heroine to me. She’s not perfect, and sometimes she makes things worse, but she refuses to give up on that hope that she might be able to save someone, no matter how afraid or unsure she might be. That, to me, is a true hero: “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know I have to do something!”
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