Memorist: Episode 8
Somehow, it feels like our detectives are getting closer to the truth, and further away from catching the killer, all at the same time. They have a suspect in their sights, but all is not what it seems, and while they’re distracted looking in one direction, the real danger is creeping up on the other side.
EPISODE 8: “The Red Herring”
Chief Gu and Se-hoon run into the killer at Reporter Jo’s house, but when they try to handcuff him, he uses his supernatural powers to freeze them in place. He takes Chief Gu’s gun, and just as Dong Baek and Sun-mi arrive, they hear a shot ring out. They go inside and find both Chief Gu and Se-hoon alive (whew) and sitting near Reporter Jo’s body.
They’re still stunned from their encounter, and they both say in emotionless voices that they can’t remember anything. Dong Baek scans them and reports that their memories of the killer have been wiped, which also confirms that the killer has the ability to manipulate memories.
Sun-mi’s team is monitoring the entrance to Jae-gyu’s secret tunnel, ready to arrest him as soon as he tries to enter it to return home. But Jae-gyu never shows, and Chief Byun spots him on the surveillance camera at his own home already. Sun-mi deduces that he must have used the secret passage just minutes after they left it, before the team got there.
Dong Baek and Sun-mi go to Jae-gyu’s house, where he’s outside playing with the little boy (whose name is Hyun-soo). Dong Baek accuses Jae-gyu of ordering an accomplice to kill Reporter Jo this time, and when he laughs, Sun-mi asks if he’s the accomplice.
Jae-gyu asks Sun-mi why she’s so angry, when what happened to her father was fair. He outlines how Sun-mi’s father was supposed to testify on behalf of two thousand wrongfully fired members of a labor union, but he committed perjury in exchange for a payout and a cushy new job.
Seventeen of the people that Sun-mi’s father was supposed to have helped committed suicide, so the killer stabbed him seventeen times in revenge. Sun-mi demands to know how Jae-gyu knew about the number of stab wounds, which was never revealed. But Jae-gyu continues that her father betrayed his colleagues because of her — because she was a genius and required special, expensive schooling.
Sun-mi asks how he knows how her father felt, and Jae-gyu answers, “I met your father’s ghost. The Executioner had the greatest time while killing your father.” ~shiver~
He says that the first two victims he predicted have died, and the third has been chosen — someone that Dong Baek touched. He finally offers to let Dong Baek scan his memories, and he doesn’t hesitate to sign the waiver allowing Dong Baek to read his memories and submit them as evidence.
But before Dong Baek touches him, little Hyun-soo pours water on his shoe, and his frantic mother runs up wanting to know why her son is here. Jae-gyu tells her that his school dropped him off since his parents weren’t home. Hyun-soo’s mother, whose name is Sang-ha, tells Jae-gyu that she can’t work for him anymore and leads her son away.
Jae-gyu accuses Dong Baek of ruining his reputation, but he still consents to be scanned. Dong Baek sees scenes of Jae-gyu praying to his animal-bone altar, and then using the hidden entrance in his greenhouse to leave his property.
There seems to be someone else in the underground passage, and when Dong Baek follows, he sees a pair of female legs covered in blood. Jae-gyu reappears and says, “It’s a curse. Everyone you come in contact with will die.” Behind him is someone wearing a black mask with glowing red eyes.
Unwilling to be scared off, Dong Baek concentrates harder as Jae-gyu laughs evilly. Suddenly Dong Baek’s eyes fly open, and the masked face is only inches from his own. He becomes overwhelmed, and he breaks the connection and falls to the ground.
He wakes up in the hospital, and there’s a woman in his room who introduces herself as Manager Kim, though Dong Baek knows she’s from the NIS. She’s concerned that this keeps happening, and even though testing showed that Dong Baek is physically fine, she tells him to stop scanning people.
Dong Baek insists on making his own decisions, so she says the NIS can’t fix a trial but they can influence public opinion so that he can keep his job even if he’s found guilty. Of course, they’d expect him to help them out occasionally, so Dong Baek tells her to get lost or he’ll read her and expose her weaknesses.
She leaves when Chief Gu and Se-hoon show up, and Dong Baek asks them what happened with Jae-gyu. Se-hoon says that he was arrested and questioned for 48 hours (Dong Baek has been asleep for three days this time), but the warrant was declined so they had to let Jae-gyu go again.
Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, Jae-gyu’s lawyer is former chief prosecutor Im Joong-yeon, the scumbag who was CEO Oh’s “client” and who was helping Chairman Park hide the evidence of his murders. Further, Sun-mi’s team searched Jae-gyu’s escape tunnel but didn’t find any traces of Reporter Jo’s DNA.
Dong Baek insists on leaving the hospital, telling his friends that Jae-gyu was able to control what Dong Baek saw when he scanned him.
Several detectives follow Jae-gyu onto the bus, where he appears to fall asleep. But during a stop, he suddenly leaps up and exits the bus, losing all of them except one female cop dressed like a high schooler. She follows Jae-gyu into a building and up to the eighth floor, changing her disguise on the way, but he’s not up there when she arrives.
She goes back to the elevator and when the door opens, he’s there. She’s forced to get in or blow her cover, causing the guys in the team’s van to lose contact with her. They get down to the parking garage, where Jae-gyu notes that there are no cars there, then he lets loose this creepy giggle and lunges at her. When the detectives find her, she’s confused, has no memory of what happened, and her gun is missing.
Very soon after, Jae-gyu finds Sang-ha and Hyun-soo at an outdoor market. Hyun-soo sees him, but when his mother looks, he’s gone. She turns back to pay for her purchase, and in the short time she’s not looking, Hyun-soo disappears.
Sang-ha drives to Jae-gyu’s house just as he’s arriving on foot, and she asks if he’s seen Hyun-soo. In a low, angry voice, Jae-gyu says, “He’ll be punished. He’ll be punished for what your family has done. He’ll be punished for what your mother did. Don’t you know who I am? I raised you when you were young.”
He reaches out to touch Sang-ha, but Dong Baek is suddenly behind her and she falls backwards into his arms. He reads her memories and sees a shirtless man with a tattoo between his shoulder blades of the same symbol as the one on Jae-gyu’s bone altar. A little girl watches the man raise a machete and bring it down viciously, spraying his face and body with blood.
Jae-gyu chuckles and steps inside his gate, and Dong Baek demands to know where Hyun-soo is. Jae-gyu says that Dong Baek read Hyun-soo’s memories, which now qualifies him to be the killer’s third victim. Jae-gyu has another vision, and he moans that the killer still has more to do, then his eyes clear and he tells Dong Baek that the third murder will happen tonight.
Sang-ha is terrified for her child, but she does her best to answer Dong Baek’s questions about Jae-gyu. As it turns out, he was her stepfather until she was nine years old, and she firmly believes that he killed her mother.
She tells the detectives that just before her mother disappeared, she went looking for her puppy in the woods one day. What she found was Jae-gyu, shirtless and performing some strange ritual in front of an altar. Her puppy was lying on the altar, and Jae-gyu had hacked at the poor animal over and over again until he was covered in blood.
It had begun to rain, and Jae-gyu had started to convulse and scream, then he’d turned and looked straight at Sang-ha. She says that her mother ran away from home after that, taking a necklace with her that Sang-ha used to wear, but leaving her daughter behind. Jae-gyu had gone away for a few days, and when he’d returned, he’d given Sang-ha her necklace back.
Later, she’d learned that her mother had been found hanging in the woods beside the man she ran away with, and the police assumed it was a murder/suicide. But Sang-ha had seen the evil, satisfied smile on Jae-gyu’s face, and she’d believed that he’d killed them, so she’d run away to her grandmother’s.
Se-hoon finds it a strange coincidence that Sang-ha’s husband just happened to live near Jae-gyu when they got married. They express interest in questioning him, but he’s out of town.
Dong Baek wants to have Jae-gyu arrested again, but Deputy Chief Lee says they’ve already struck out twice with questioning him, so they have to catch him leaving through the secret passage. Dong Baek loses his temper, yelling that a kid’s life is on the line, but Deputy Chief Lee thinks Jae-gyu is just using the boy as a distraction and instructs the special team to look into everyone Dong Baek has scanned.
After Dong Baek storms out furious, he gets a call from Sun-mi and goes to see her in person. She’s been laying low and doing her own research, so she asks what Dong Baek saw in Jae-gyu’s memory. Dong Baek says that the only real thing was the secret passage and the rest was an illusion created by Jae-gyu.
Sun-mi sighs that Jae-gyu’s power is stronger than Dong Baek’s since he can both alter
Dong Baek believes that he’s decided on Hyun-soo as the third victim, but Sun-mi thinks that the boy might be a red herring meant to distract them. She also thinks it’s no coincidence that the two people investigating the case are children of his original victims, but she wonders why he’s been baiting them by leaving clues and showing them his powers.
Dong Baek thinks it’s not that deep… he kills to avenge other victims, and he doesn’t think their parents’ deaths was enough, so now he’s after them. He includes Sang-ha in his assessment and thinks there must be some secret about her mother’s betrayal that they don’t know about. Sun-mi says that Hyun-soo might not be the third victim — it might be her.
The special team continues to monitor the entrance to Jae-gyu’s secret passageway, and has put trackers on his car and his motorcycle. Deputy Chief Lee is called away from the command center, leaving Chief Byun in charge. Somehow Jae-gyu manages to get out of his tunnel unseen, and he attacks Chil-gyu and his partner and steals their vehicle.
Meanwhile, Sun-mi tells Dong Baek that it’s been bothering her that Jae-gyu left the water pump leading to his tunnel in plain sight for them to find. She thinks he has an accomplice, and she thinks it’s the same person whose company restored the building — Hyun-soo’s stepfather and Sang-ha’s husband, Yoon In-tae.
She says that he’s not actually out of town, but probably nearby taking Jae-gyu’s orders. This makes it more likely that Hyun-soo is tonight’s victim, so Sun-mi tells Dong Baek that she’s taking him to Jae-gyu and In-tae’s real hideout.
At Sang-ha’s house, she hears a phone ring and realizes that it’s her husband’s. When she answers, it’s In-tae himself, and he tells her in a frantic voice to come out through the back door. He screams for her to get out of the house, then there’s a loud thump, so the cop with Sang-ha goes to investigate. She runs into Jae-gyu in the kitchen, and he throttles her and then turns on Sang-ha.
Sun-mi leads Dong Baek to an abandoned warehouse near where Hyun-soo went missing, one of In-tae’s many buildings, and tells him to just break in. They don’t find the boy, but they do find a car and a motorcycle. Further in, there are shelves full of ropes, shackles, and multiple weapons.
The team gets a report that Jae-gyu has kidnapped Sang-ha, and luckily Chil-gyu’s partner’s phone is still in their car, so the team tracks it heading towards Incheon. They’re able to box the car in, but when they approach, it’s just Sang-ha, sobbing with fright.
Meanwhile, Dong Baek and Sun-mi hear the car engine fire up, and Dong Baek runs after it and jumps onto the back. The driver swerves to shake him off and drives away. Dong Baek and Sun-mi take the motorcycle and follow, helped by Dong Baek’s smartwatch which he’d strapped to the back of the vehicle, and they catch up to the driver in a parking lot near a dock.
It’s Jae-gyu, who obediently gets on his knees when Sun-mi orders him down. He says that it will take five minutes for their backup to arrive but only three minutes for him to deal with them and get on the boat. As soon as Dong Baek tries to cuff him, Jae-gyu goes on the attack.
He jumps up and punches Dong Baek, then pulls the stolen gun on him. Dong Baek kicks the gun, and Jae-gyu ends up shooting Sun-mi in the arm and making her drop her own weapon. She struggles to pick up and aim the gun as Dong Baek and Jae-gyu grapple, but she can’t get a good shot because they’re too close together.
Sang-ha explains that after Jae-gyu left her house, she did as her husband said and found Hyun-soo in the car, perfectly fine. She and In-tae made plans to meet and leave the country on a boat together, which he said was the only way to stay safe.
Jae-gyu pulls a knife and swings it at Dong Baek, and Sun-mi sees her opening and shoots, hitting Jae-gyu in the torso. Unfortunately, he managed to bury the knife in Dong Baek’s chest, but Dong Baek pulls it out and stumbles over to punch Jae-gyu and handcuff him to the car.
Sun-mi tells Jae-gyu that he failed to harm Hyun-soo, who is safe with his mother and still in the country. But on hearing that, Jae-gyu’s sick grin fades and a look of true fear comes into his eyes.
Dong Baek insists on reading Jae-gyu, and he finds that it was Jae-gyu who warned In-tae to take Sang-ha and Hyun-soo away and keep them safe. Dong Baek also learns that Jae-gyu has no supernatural powers, and that everything he’s been doing was to protect Sang-ha and Hyun-soo from the real murderer, whom he calls the Eraser.
Somewhere, In-tae is tied to a chair in the dark. He hears footsteps growing closer, then a hooded figure in a black mask steps into the room.
Well, I was right about Jae-gyu not being the killer, though he’s still creepy as hell and his “protection” methods are sketchy and dangerous. But as nuts as he sees to be, he really was trying to protect Sang-ha and her son, and is truly terrified that they didn’t make it out of the country safely. I’m not sure how this ties in with Sang-ha’s memory that Jae-gyu killed her mother, but I’m guessing that her 9-year-old interpretation was wrong and that Jae-gyu actually tried to save his wife but failed. I guess we’ll find out.
This means that Dong Baek and Sun-mi aren’t any closer to finding the true culprit, and now that they know he’s probably after them, things are getting much more personal. And I say “he,” but I’m open to the idea that the killer might be a woman — with no need to physically overpower the victims, a woman could be just as capable of these murders as a man. All we’ve seen is someone wearing prosthetic makeup or a hood and mask, and very baggy clothing, and my spidey senses are telling me that the killer may be female. I have no evidence of that, just the same sort of feeling that told me Jae-gyu wasn’t the killer, and I was right about that so…
So Sun-mi is a target, according to Jae-gyu, because she was the reason her father accepted a crooked deal and attracted the attention of the killer. I don’t think that makes a child responsible and therefore deserving to die, but the killer’s logic isn’t exactly sane, and I can see why he would target her. But then what did Dong Baek do to put him in that same category? Jae-gyu said previously that his mother’s death was because of him, so I’m assuming it’s a similar scenario to Sun-mi’s though possibly relating to his supernatural gift like hers related to her intellect.
The storytelling quality of Memorist backslid just a bit this week, but only in the sense of unfolding the plot in a very roundabout way. The show tends to follow the rule of “show, don’t tell,” which is usually good, unless you’re not telling us much or telling us in a confusing way. We end up seeing the conclusion of a situation before hearing the explanation, which can be an effective way of building tension, but not when almost every scene is done that way — it gets difficult to tell what happened and when. But I’m still glad that we’re narrowing things down to the real killer, and Jae-gyu seems to know who it is, which will be a big help if Dong Baek and Sun-mi can make him talk.
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