The Game: Towards Zero: Episodes 11-12
Boy, you just never know what’s going to happen in this drama. Every time it seems as though things are headed a certain way, something surprising happens and everything changes. The moral of the story, for our heroes and for us as viewers, is that when you factor human involvement into a situation, even fate can’t predict how things will turn out.
Tae-pyung convinces Joon-young that Do-kyung is the person he saw murdering Mi-jin in his vision, so she makes an emergency arrest. They only have twelve hours to come up with enough evidence to formally arrest him, so Joon-young takes a team to Do-kyung’s house to collect everything they can find that might link him to the murder. Meanwhile, Tae-pyung asks Yeon-hwa to learn everything she can about Do-kyung and whether anyone from Hope Orphanage knows him.
Only Teacher Baek is unhappy about this turn of events. He’s worried about Tae-pyung working with Joon-young and getting closer to her, since the one time he found someone whose death he couldn’t see, he felt it was because he caused it, and he believes that Joon-young will die because of Tae-pyung.
Tae-pyung asks Teacher Baek why he tried to commit suicide years ago, when he’s seen his own death and knows that’s not how he dies. He guesses that it’s because a foretold death can be changed by murder, and suicide is a form of self-murder. Teacher Baek confirms it, but he says that it’s not so easy to change someone’s fate, so Tae-pyung needs to stop now before he causes Joon-young’s death.
Tae-pyung asks, what if he does that but Joon-young is still in danger? Teacher Baek says that that’s her fate, but Tae-pyung refuses to believe that being murdered is someone’s fate.
He mentions that he’s seen how all of Joon-young’s colleagues die — from terrible injuries caused by an explosion at the police station. He says that the explosion claims many more victims, worried that Joon-young may be one of them but he can’t see it.
He knows who’s trying to kill her and thinks he can stop it, but Teacher Baek warns that he may die instead. Tae-pyung says that he means to try and persuade Do-kyung, because he saw his distraught expression when he killed Mi-jin and doesn’t think that he wants to kill.
While Do-kyung waits in the interrogation room, Joon-young and the team go through everything they found at his home, but they don’t find much. Bong-soo reports that the CCTV footage shows someone going into Mi-jin’s room, but he was wearing a mask and seemed to know where all the camera blind spots are. In addition, the clothes he was wearing have probably been sent to be incinerated, so their best chance of conclusive evidence is the DNA they found under Mi-jin’s fingernail.
While looking up Hope Orphanage, Kang-jae finds an old article about Jo Pil-doo’s son Hyun-woo being sent there. Looking worried, Joon-young rushes out saying she needs to check something. She goes to see rookie reporter Ye-ji for one of Joon-hee’s old photos of Jo Hyun-woo, and eventually she finds one that he took of her, with Hyun-woo standing in the background.
Meanwhile, Chief Nam begins questioning Do-kyung, starting with asking if he knew a kid named Jo Hyun-woo at Hope Orphanage. Do-kyung very carefully tells the misleading truth, saying that yes, everyone knew Hyun-woo and that no, he wasn’t his friend. Chief Nam leaves the room and watches Do-kyung as he drinks from the paper cup of water he left him, glancing at the one-way mirror as if he knows what Chief Nam is planning.
Yeon-hwa returns to Tae-pyung with the information she gathered on Jo Hyun-woo. Teacher Baek had told Tae-pyung that after meeting Jo Hyun-woo twenty years ago, he’d been very ill for ten days, and he hadn’t told Teacher Baek about seeing Hyun-woo’s suicide until a month later. Teacher Baek had believed that suicide (as self-murder) could be prevented, so he’d written to Hyun-woo often and sponsored him so he could study, but he’d lost touch when the mother superior died.
Returning to the station, Joon-young is upset that Chief Nam never told her that the boy she befriended at the orphanage was Jo Hyun-woo. She goes in to question Do-kyung, making sure to turn on the camera. She asks when he met Mi-jin and he lies that it was the same night he met her, and that he was at that hospital because he’s writing a paper with a colleague.
She says that in checking his background, she learned that Jo Hyun-woo was at Hope Orphanage at the same time she and Do-kyung were there (she doesn’t know yet who he truly is). Do-kyung says they weren’t close, but that he remembers Hyun-woo as being very quiet. Joon-young asks if that’s because of the reporter who harassed him, and a dark expression enters Do-kyung’s eyes as he remembers Joon-hee.
Joon-young says that Joon-hee is Mi-jin’s father, and Do-kyung pretends this is the first he’s heard of it. She tells him that Ji-won committed suicide, and again Do-kyung pretends not to know. He asks for a break, and interestingly, he carefully rinses his mouth out in the restroom. While he’s out of the room, Chief Nam takes the cup Do-kyung drank from, bags it to send for DNA testing, and replaces it with a new cup.
When Joon-young resumes her questioning, Do-kyung denies knowing Jo Pil-doo or ever visiting him in prison, adding slyly that she must have found evidence that only makes sense if he knows Jo Pil-doo. Just then, Joon-young gets a text from Soo-hyun asking her to call back about the DNA results, and when she does, Soo-hyun says to her surprise that the DNA found under Mi-jin’s fingernail belongs to Jo Pil-doo. Wait, how is that possible when Do-kyung has that scratch??
Their time is up and they haven’t found anything on Do-kyung, so they’re forced to let him go. Tae-pyung is waiting for him outside the station, and Do-kyung makes a dark joke that his death must be so powerful that Tae-pyung wanted to see it in his eyes again.
Joon-young takes Jo Pil-doo’s written confession to Chief Nam and asks if he coerced Pil-doo to write it. Chief Nam admits it, justifying that saw Pil-doo kill Joon-young’s father. Joon-young asks if Jo Pil-doo was truly the Midnight Killer, but Chief Nam just says that Pil-doo’s fingerprints were on the last victim’s ID and the bodies were all found at construction sites where Pil-doo worked.
Joon-young asks if the DN matched, but when Chief Nam snaps again that he killed her father, it’s obvious that it didn’t. She asks how it’s possible that Pil-doo’s DNA was found under Mi-jin’s nails, and if he’s sure that Pil-doo was the killer, but by now, Chief Nam can’t even meet her eyes.
Tae-pyung follows Do-kyung back to his place, where Do-kyung openly bandages the scratch on his arm. He asks how Tae-pyung knows who he is, so Tae-pyung says there’s a man who knows Do-kyung very well, thinking of Teacher Baek (who told him that Do-kyung is Jo Hyun-woo). Do-kyung quips that people who know him well tend to come to bad ends, so that person should be careful.
Tae-pyung asks Do-kyung if he’s looking for revenge for his father, but Do-kyung just laughs, so Tae-pyung changes direction and asks if he truly wants to commit suicide. He says he’ll help Do-kyung get what he wants as long as it doesn’t involve murder, but when Do-kyung says that maybe what he wants is Joon-young, Tae-pyung growls that he’ll kill him first. Do-kyung sneers, figuring out that if Tae-pyung is offering to help, it must mean his foreseen suicide can change.
Later, Tae-pyung calls Joon-young, saying that he’s at home, though he’s actually at the station secretly watching her from outside the room. He looks extremely worried for her, fearing that he won’t be able to help if she’s in real danger.
Joon-young works until dawn, and on her way out of the building, she finds Tae-pyung sleeping in his car. Awww. He grins sheepishly and offers her a ride home, and they stop on the way for breakfast. Tae-pyung watches Joon-young eat like she’s the most fascinating thing in the world, and when she asks, he admits that he was at the station all night.
He asks if she’s curious about how she’ll die, and Joon-young says that in her profession she could die at any time, so she doesn’t want to know. She forbids Tae-pyung to tell her, so he confesses that she’s the only person whose death he can’t see, and that it worries him.
After her daughter’s tragic death, Ji-won goes through the motions of preparing for her funeral alone and in a semi-catatonic state. She limps around the hospital aimlessly, forced to watch as every television broadcasts the details of Mi-jin’s miraculous rescue then subsequent murder.
When Ji-won finds Joon-hee, he’s on the phone with Han-gyu, who tells him that Jo Pil-doo’s DNA was found under Mi-jin’s fingernail. Ji-won snatches the phone and listens as Han-gyu (who thinks he’s still talking to Joon-hee) says that Pil-doo is obviously Mi-jin’s killer, and the name of the hospital where Pil-doo is currently receiving care for his endstage cancer.
Seeing that Ji-won is growing unhinged, Joon-hee tries to calm her, but she yells that Mi-jin would be alive if he’d answered the phone when she’d called him. She declares that she’ll never forgive him, and that she’ll kill everyone responsible for Mi-jin’s death.
Tae-pyung and Yeon-hwa discuss whether they should tell the police that Do-kyung is Jo Hyun-woo. Yeon-hwa also wants to investigate Jo Hyun-woo’s supposed suicide fifteen years ago, guessing that it might have been the real Gu Do-kyung who died and that Hyun-woo assumed his identity. While she’s at it, Tae-pyung asks her to find someone from Hope Orphanage who knew both Do-kyung and Hyun-woo.
While Jo Pil-doo is in the hospital again, Chief Nam visits the prison and asks to see his cell. He bags Pil-doo’s toothbrush and takes it to the forensics lab, asking for a paternity test against Do-kyung’s DNA from the drinking cup.
He runs into Joon-young on his way out of the lab, and she tells him that she figured out that he turned off the recording in the interrogation room in order to switch Do-kyung’s drinking cup and get his DNA. She pleads with Chief Nam to tell her what he’s hiding, so he reveals that he believes Gu Do-kyung is actually Jo Hyun-woo, Jo Pil-doo’s son.
He also tells her about the call he received three years ago that he believes was from Jo Hyun-woo. The caller had claimed that someone named Kim Hyung-soo was the real Midnight Killer and had taunted Chief Nam for arresting the wrong man. Chief Nam had tried to wave it off, but after a month he’d gone to check out the caller’s story just in case, only to find no evidence and no sign of Kim Hyung-soo.
Chief Nam defends that twenty years ago, he felt justified because everyone was convinced Jo Pil-doo was the murderer, but now he confesses that the DNA evidence didn’t match up. Distraught over Joon-young’s father’s death, Chief Nam himself had mislabeled the hair found in a victim’s coffin as Jo Pil-doo’s in order to make sure the DNA results were positive.
Tae-pyung goes to the station looking for Joon-young, but she’s not there, and she’s not answering her phone. Yeon-hwa calls him to say that she learned that Joon-young was at the orphanage at the same time as Do-kyung and Hyun-woo. She adds that Joon-hee would follow Joon-young and Hyun-woo around writing stories about their tragic circumstances, which is probably why Hyun-woo targeted his daughter.
Tae-pyung eventually reaches Joon-young, who’s at the hospital where Pil-doo is being treated, and he says he’ll meet her there. When he arrives, he stops a doctor to ask if Jo Pil-doo is here. The doctor doesn’t know, but when Tae-pyung catches up to Joon-young, he says that he saw that doctor in his vision of Pil-doo’s death — Pil-doo dies on the operating table, and that doctor is the one trying to save him.
Suddenly they hear a scream across the lobby. Nearby, Jo Pil-doo crumples to the floor as Ji-won drops the knife she just used to stab him. Joon-young runs over and tries to stop the bleeding as the policeman who was escorting Pil-doo arrests Ji-won.
Ji-won is taken to a police vehicle, and Joon-hee experiences the other side of the coin as he frantically tries to stop the reporters from taking pictures. Ji-won is taken away, leaving Joon-hee in shock.
The news of the attack, and Pil-doo’s death on the operating table not long after, is soon all over the news. At his home, Do-kyung hears that his father was killed by the mother of his victim, and he stares up at his eerie painting of a dead man.
Oh, how terrible. We know for sure now that Pil-doo was innocent of all except Joon-young’s father’s death (and even that was an accident), but now he’s dead with the world believing he was a killer. Ji-won and Joon-hee’s lives are now ruined — she’ll go to prison for murder, and he’s lost his entire family. I’ll admit that I have a hard time finding much sympathy for Joon-hee, who consistently lets his job come before his family to the point that his neglect led directly to Mi-jin’s death and Ji-won’s mental state that sent her to kill Pil-doo. If Joon-hee had pulled his head out of his ~ahem~ at any point and prioritized his family, maybe his daughter would still be alive, his wife would still be sane, and Pil-doo might have been exonerated.
And that’s possible, because we’ve established one very important piece of information regarding Tae-pyung’s ability to see death — a death can be changed when it’s a murder (and dammit I wish Teacher Baek had told Tae-pyung this so much sooner!). That makes sense to me because human beings are unpredictable and can change their minds, so Tae-pyung’s ability probably can’t keep up with all the different ways a murderer might switch up their plans or an intended victim might fight back and save themselves. I think that he can see a death if it’s the murderer’s current plan, like he saw Mi-jin’s death at 7 p.m., but when Do-kyung changed his plan to 4 p.m., Tae-pyung’s vision changed as well. It stands to reason that if a murder can be changed, then the murderer can be stopped, and that the change will be reflected in Tae-pyung’s visions. Hopefully this means that it’s possible for the explosion at the police station to be avoided, and those lives saved, as well.
We’re beginning to unravel the mystery of Do-kyung’s past and why he killed Mi-jin, but there’s still so much we don’t know. I’m with Tae-pyung in believing that Do-kyung didn’t seem to want to kill Mi-jin, so why did he do it? Revenge on Joon-hee seems obvious, but all Joon-hee did was hound him for a while… it seems like overkill (sorry for the pun) to recreate a serial killer’s MO and kill a girl just because a reporter did his job — albeit a terrible job in a heartless way — twenty years ago. And how on earth does Do-kyung’s DNA keep flagging as his father’s? Is he planting it? If so, how did the DNA from the scratch on his arm match up? Hopefully the paternity test will turn up something in that regard. I’ve said before that committing murder to prove someone else innocent makes little sense, especially when his father was about to die of his disease soon anyway, so Do-kyung’s behavior is still a total mystery to me.
It’s tragic that Jo Pil-doo was innocent all along, and that the evidence even backed him up, but that he spent twenty years in prison and died violently, still believed a killer. But I have questions about him, too, such as why he confessed in writing. That indicates that Pil-doo was either hiding something or protecting someone, or both. I still have a niggling suspicion that Hyun-woo may have been the Midnight Killer, even at such a young age (it would explain why the DNA from the mislabeled hair twenty years ago, and the scratch on his arm from now, are a match), and that his father knew and confessed to protect him. But then we’ve seen through Tae-pyung’s eyes that the seventh victim was killed by a grown man, so still, the pieces don’t quite fit. There’s definitely a lot of information to dig up before we get to the truth, and my fear is that there will be a lot more deaths before that happens.
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