Memorist: Episode 10
Our detectives decide that it’s time to turn the tables on their killer, but it’s not easy to fool a monster that can read your thoughts. Our hero’s memory-reading ability does no good when his opponent can remove all memories of himself, and when he’s caught unprepared, it could cost someone their life.
EPISODE 10: “Trauma Trigger”
At the last second, Dong Baek stops Sun-mi from shooting the masked figure in Jae-gyu’s underground tunnel. There seems to be something wrong with the person, and when Dong Baek removes the black mask, they see that it’s In-tae, Sang-ah’s husband. Dong Baek quickly scans In-tae, but he’s been wiped completely clean of all of his memories, even his ability to speak.
They take In-tae to the hospital, and when Sang-ah arrives, he’s thrashing wildly in his bed. But some part of him seems to recognize his wife, because seeing her calms him. Dong Baek’s doctor predicts that In-tae can recover since he suffered no physical damage, and she’s shocked to hear that there’s someone who can erase memories.
Dong Baek tells Sun-mi that the Eraser left him a message in In-tae’s mind: “This isn’t over. The third victim that you touched with your dirty hand will die before the last day of the month. The cursed third offering.” It only gives them three days to catch the killer, but Dong Baek says that he’s done playing the Eraser’s game and chasing him, so he’s going to set a trap.
Step One: Casting
A week after Reporter Jo’s murder, the media are slamming the police for keeping tight-lipped about the details. Deputy Chief Lee asks Sun-mi and Chief Byun how they intend to handle the situation, though he forbids them to release any information about the killer having supernatural powers, saying that the decision comes from “the man above.”
He orders them to quietly capture the killer alive, show up the NIS, and restore the police department’s reputation. Sun-mi requests Dong Baek on her team unofficially, saying that she needs someone with supernatural powers to catch a supernatural monster and promising not to let him get any credit.
She also asks for promotions for both her and Chief Byun when she catches the killer, figuring she’ll get the promotion since Deputy Chief Lee is aiming even higher, and he seems impressed with her boldness. But Chief Byun tells Sun-mi that she made a mistake asking for a promotion, because the higher you rise, the less time you get to spend in the field.
He says that Deputy Chief Lee knows how much she loves solving cases, so he believes that Deputy Chief Lee now thinks she’s lying. But this is exactly what Sun-mi wants Deputy Chief Lee to think, and she calls Dong Baek and tells him that her “casting” is complete.
Dong Baek goes to see Jae-gyu in the hospital and asks him to be part of his plan to catch the Eraser. Jae-gyu says he’s not interested in helping since Sang-ah and Hyun-soo didn’t get out of the country safely, but his expression changes when Dong Baek tells him that In-tae was found with his entire memory erased.
We flash back to China in 2002, and see a young man buying a vial of poison guaranteed to be “strong enough to kill ten elephants.” He returns to the gang den where he appears to be low man on the totem pole, and he pours the entire vial of poison into the pot of soup he’s made for the gang’s dinner.
He ladles up a bowl for the hard-voiced madam who leads the gang, but she tells him to feed it to their captive in the back room. The young man takes the soup to the captive but whispers to him not to eat it, then loosens his bindings. When he returns to the main room, the gang members have helped themselves to the soup, and their bodies are all over the room.
Madam is barely breathing, and she asks the young man why he did this. He says, “It’s revenge for my brother,” just as she collapses. But then Madam starts to laugh, and she and the rest of the gang get up, grabbing the young man and holding a knife to his throat.
Madam growls that she knows everyone in the black market, and made sure he was sold harmless sugar. She produces a vial of the real poison and begins to force it into his mouth, but she’s struck in the neck by a knife. The captive is loose, and he proceeds to kill every last one of the gang members while the younger man gapes in shock.
Suddenly the captive is shot in the shoulder by Madam. She pulls the knife from her neck (OMG ouch), then puts the gun to the captive’s head. She asks who he is and pulls down his mask — and it’s Jae-gyu. A shot rings out and Madam finally falls down dead, shot in the back by the young man.
Jae-gyu takes the gun from him and apologizes, saying with real remorse that he can’t let him live since he’s seen his face. The young man says he doesn’t mind dying now that he’s gotten his revenge. Impressed, Jae-gyu asks his name… Yoon In-tae.
Back in the present, In-tae attempts a simple block puzzle for the doctors while Jae-gyu watches him sadly. Sang-ah enters the room and Jae-gyu turns to leave, both of them looking awkward and uncomfortable. Drawing up her courage, Sang-ah asks Jae-gyu if it’s true that he killed her mother because she was planning to kill her.
Jae-gyu twists up his face and snarls that a murderer needs no reason, and that he killed her mother because she was such a good person. Sang-ah turns her back on him and walks away, and he looks sad but resigned as he shuffles out of the room. Se-hoon asks why Jae-gyu did that, and Chief Gu just says that he’ll understandcccc when he has children of his own.
Dong Baek calls Sun-mi to tell her that his “casting” is finished, so now they wait and see if Jae-gyu takes the bait. He says it’s time to move on to —
Step Two: “Identifying his Allies”
Sun-mi instructs her team to check the alibis of everyone on the special team during the time they know the Eraser was under the drain listening to her and Dong Baek talking to Jae-gyu. Her people are doubtful that any of the detectives are involved, but Sun-mi wants to be sure of who their allies are.
Reporter Ji-eun is also under pressure from her bosses, who want her to find something on Dong Baek that could get him fired from the police force. Their company hasn’t been doing well since Reporter Jo’s murder, so they consider it a matter of pride to destroy Dong Baek. Ji-eun is given 48 hours to dig up something or lose her job.
Since she can’t get close to Dong Baek himself, Ji-eun contacts Chief Gu, who’s more than happy to sit and gab with her. The very first thing he says is that Dong Baek will be working with Sun-mi’s team, which is supposed to be a secret from the media. Ji-eun asks about Dong Baek’s personal qualities, and Chief Gu spills a lot of tea, assuming that Ji-eun is just interested as a friend.
He tells Ji-eun that he hates Dong Baek because his strong desire to catch the culprit makes him annoying. Ji-eun asks about the rumors that Dong Baek just wants fame, and Chief Gu admits that Dong Baek likes attention, but it’s because he has a lot of empathy. He explains how Dong Baek feels the emotions of the people whose memories he reads, and how his violent outbursts happen because he’s avenging the victims against their abusers.
Meanwhile, Dong Baek is in the middle of the worst apology ever to the special team for his behavior two years ago that got him kicked out. He couldn’t possibly sound less sincere, and he gets busted for reading his apology from a note instead of speaking from the heart. He balls up his note and pings it off of Chil-gyu’s forehead, ha.
Outside, Chief Gu is telling Ji-eun that Dong Baek’s peers hate him because he’s so rude and arrogant, and the press makes things worse by only reporting the negative and never the positive (such as harping on human rights instead of praising how many criminals Dong Baek catches).
He’s talking about how much his son idolizes Dong Baek when they get inside and find Dong Baek being dogpiled by the entire special team. Sun-mi and her right-hand man (whose name I’ve never caught) come in, and Sun-mi’s guy barks at the cops to knock it off.
Dong Baek spits out the arm he’s gnawing on, and he and Sun-mi go outside to talk. The fight turns out to have been part of the plan — Dong Baek had scanned every memory on the special team who didn’t have an alibi for that night. LOL, brilliant and efficient.
He wasn’t able to get anything specific, but he did confirm that none of them is suspicious. Sun-mi is still convinced that the Erasure is close enough to be getting information from their team, and Dong Baek says that’s why he acts the fool… to throw him off (Sun-mi: “You always act like a fool…” hee).
Dong Baek believes that the Eraser’s next victim will either be Chief Gu or Se-hoon, specifically to cause Dong Baek as much pain as possible. Sun-mi offers them the chance to flee abroad (their assumption is the the Eraser somehow can’t go abroad, since he never followed Jae-gyu during the twenty years he was gone), or stay and help them set a trap.
Chief Gu is ready to cut and run, but Se-hoon decides to stay. Sun-mi gives him a tiny camera to wear so that they’ll all see the Eraser when he shows up. Dong Baek warns Se-hoon that this is extremely dangerous, but Se-hoon says resolutely that it takes a brave person to be partners with a telepath.
Step Three: “D-day, Setting the Bait”
A SWAT team is called in to escort Jae-gyu to the courthouse for his trial, and Chief Gu and Se-hoon are positioned near him. At the last second, the SWAT members are called away to attend a terrorist threat, and Jae-gyu smirks like he knows this was no coincidence. Se-hoon positions himself with his camera facing Jae-gyu in the transport van, and Bong-kook watches from the situation room, wincing at Jae-gyu’s creepy tuneless humming.
In court, Lawyer Im, who’s still as smarmy as ever, claims that Jae-gyu never committed any murders — not now, and not twenty years ago. He’s unaware that Jae-gyu wrote a full confession, and when he sees it, he starts to stammer that Jae-gyu’s word can’t be trusted since he’s mentally ill.
Jae-gyu stands and says that his mind is perfectly clear, and when Lawyer Im continues to argue the point, he screams, “I’m not INSANE!!” Jae-gyu mutters something under his breath, forcing Lawyer Im to lean in to hear him, and he repeats, “If I were given another chance to kill someone, I’d choose you.” Then he bites Lawyer Im’s ear off.
He takes Lawyer Im’s fountain pen and holds it to his throat like a weapon. Then he grins that crazy grin, and stabs himself in the jugular. Se-hoon gets to him first and presses his hand to the gushing wound, and Jae-gyu is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery where he narrowly pulls through.
Of course, Deputy Chief Lee is furious that the police were there in the courtroom, drawing negative attention once again. Sun-mi ignores his calls and orders her people to set Jae-gyu up in the top floor VIP ward, which is empty due to remodeling. Even doctors are only allowed to see Jae-gyu with two officers accompanying them at all times.
Step Four: “Contingency Plan”
Se-hoon and Chief Gu stay in Jae-gyu’s room, with Se-hoon getting more nervous the later it gets, since this is the night the Eraser said he would kill his third victim. Chief Gu tries to get him to eat, but Se-hoon says it will make him sleepy. But a nurse fusses at Chief Gu for eating in front of someone who has to fast and Se-hoon quickly shushes her. Hmmm, why would he be fasting?
Sun-mi monitors things from a nearby office converted into a temporary situation room. Bong-kook asks if her profiler instincts pick up anything strange regarding Dong Baek, particularly the way he always acts goofy, but when you look back, there’s always a reason for his behavior.
He says it feels like Dong Baek is always wearing a mask, but before Sun-mi can respond, the power goes out at the hospital and interrupts their cameras and radio communication. Sun-mi’s entire team was in the security room, Sun-mi having anticipated that this would be the Eraser’s first move.
The team take the stairs, and on the way, they find the cops that were stationed outside Jae-gyu’s room (including Chil-gyu) sitting unconscious in the stairwell, their memories of how they got there erased. When they finally arrive at Jae-gyu’s floor, the stairwell door is locked.
Sun-mi calls Chief Gu and tells him to move Jae-gyu, so he and Se-hoon find an empty room to hide in. They’re suddenly surrounded — whew, it’s just Dong Baek with a small SWAT team. Everything is going perfectly according to Dong Baek and Sun-mi’s plan, and Dong Baek gleefully anticipates finally meeting the Eraser face-to-face.
As it turns out, Jae-gyu is the Eraser’s true target, and he was secretly taken to Sun-mi’s temporary office with a SWAT soldier keeping him in line. He tells Sun-mi that she was smart to fool the special team so that the Eraser wouldn’t get any information if he read them, but she just snaps at him to shut up.
Dong Baek and the SWAT team wait in the empty hospital room, and soon someone creeps through the door. Sun-mi and Jae-gyu watch through Se-hoon’s body camera as the person is surrounded… but it’s only Sang-ah, who wails that she heard Jae-gyu was dying so she wanted to see him one last time.
Dong Baek reads her and says that she’s telling the truth. He runs from the room, gasping that Sun-mi is in danger, at the same time that the SWAT soldier assigned to Jae-gyu activates a device and all of the power goes out in the situation room.
Jae-gyu is the first to realize that the Eraser is standing behind him in disguise, and he suddenly apologizes to Sun-mi for murdering her father. She says this isn’t the time, but Jae-gyu replies that he has to do it now. He says that he would do it again if he could turn back time, but that the pain it caused Sun-mi is part of his karma.
He whispers that the room smells of death, then he jumps up, grabs his IV pole and swings it at the Eraser. The Eraser knocks Jae-gyu to the floor as Sun-mi pulls her gun, and Jae-gyu yells at her to shoot.
The Eraser lost his weapon in the fight, so Sun-mi opens fire, and he takes two bullets in the chest. He must be wearing a bulletproof vest, because he throws a flash bomb, and when the smoke clears, he’s standing over Sun-mi and pointing a gun at her.
He starts to squeeze the trigger, but Jae-gyu grabs the gun and tells Sun-mi again to shoot. but Sun-mi doesn’t take the shot for fear of hitting Jae-gyu, and the Eraser gets loose and runs from the room. He heads up to the roof where he has climbing equipment ready to rappel down the building.
Dong Baek catches up to him and shoots him in the back, but it only slows him down for a second. He leaps off the side of the building and heads towards the ground, and with a curse, Dong Baek shoots him again. This time it works, and the Eraser falls to the ground and doesn’t move.
This was one of those episodes where a lot seems to happen, but when you look back on it, it feels more like there was just a lot of talk and maneuvering to get our characters in position for the final countdown to the end. That’s not a bad thing, but it makes it difficult to write much in the Comments, because there wasn’t a lot of forward motion in the plot. I do appreciate that Dong Baek and Sun-mi finally realized that they’ve just been reacting and letting the Eraser run the show, so they’re making an effort to get ahead of their prey.
The problem is that it’s proving nearly impossible to surprise an enemy who can get information out of anyone then just erase all of their memories of them. How do you find clues when nobody even knows they encountered the Eraser, much less what s/he looks like or is trying to accomplish? Even Dong Baek’s memories seem to have been altered by the Eraser at least once, if not twice when you consider that he showed up out of nowhere as a child with no memories. And while Jae-gyu has been a great source of information, vague and unreliable though he is, I don’t think there’s much more we can learn from him about the nebulous enemy.
And I don’t believe for one second that the person Dong Baek just shot off the building is the real Eraser. There’s no way he would put himself into such a dangerous situation where he’d be so likely to get caught. I actually think that the person in the room with Jae-gyu and Sun-mi may have been the real Eraser, but that the person on the roof was a decoy who had been coerced into pretending to be him. Regardless, the real confrontation with the real Eraser will be much more dramatic and the reveal of their identity will be emotional — I have a pretty solid theory on who it is, but it’s too soon to say.
Even though the story has its problems, particularly when it comes to clarity, I’ve mostly been able to figure out what’s going on at any given time. But it’s starting to get muddy again, and I think it’s because there are too many unimportant details cluttering up the already-convoluted plot. A lot of “clues” are considered that lead nowhere, or Dong Baek investigates situations that end up having nothing to do with what’s happening. A good example is the son of the caretaker in the previous episode — he seemed to be a lead because he was obsessed with pictures of four parallel lines, the same as the Eraser supposedly has carved into the back of his hand. But a long time was spent on that plot thread and ultimately it meant nothing, so now I’m confused because I spent half an episode trying to figure out connections that weren’t even there. I’ve seen comments, and I do agree, that this story might have been better told with fewer episodes and a tighter, more straightforward storytelling style. It’s got a compelling and unique plot, but the story would be easier to follow if it were simpler.
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