Memorist: Episodes 13-14
Our team has all the clues, now they just need to put them together to find the identity of their killer. I suspect that he/she is a lot closer than they think – in fact, if I’m correct, the Eraser is right under their noses. They just have to put the pieces together in the right order, then begins the real work of catching a killer who can literally control minds.
EPISODE 13: “The Name of the Prophecy”
April 20, 2000
In the warehouse in Shimbae, Jae-gyu frees Deputy Chief Lee of his gag and tells him that he will die tonight. He says that Deputy Chief Lee has become the “young devil’s” target, then they hear the Eraser coming so Jae-gyu replaces Deputy Chief Lee’s gag.
Jae-gyu wakes up later after having his memory wiped, and Deputy Chief Lee breaks free when Jae-gyu tries to untie him. Deputy Chief Lee frees himself just as the seven young men are dropping dead, and he’s knocked out. When he opens his eyes, he sees young Dong Baek.
Dong Baek slips away in the smoke, and the fireman shows up while Deputy Chief Lee is taking the unconscious SA’s gas mask (wow, that’s a particularly shitty thing to do). He leaves while the fireman is distracted, and a short distance away he runs into Dong Baek again, but the boy keeps going in a seeming haze.
In the present, Dong Baek screams a denial that he could be the Eraser. Deputy Chief Lee throws him off and says that the Eraser’s victims have all been Dong Baek’s enemies. Even the girl who was killed by the two teens who were later made into statues by the Eraser, was one of Dong Baek’s friends at the orphanage.
Dong Baek stammers that Deputy Chief Lee is the one who ordered Chun Ki-soo to cover up the murder of Moon Young-dae twenty years ago. He’s about to read Deputy Chief Lee’s memory again to find out who gave Deputy Chief Lee the order, but the cops come in, so Dong Baek flees.
Sun-mi stays behind and says she’s long since known about the connection between Dong Baek and the victims, but she didn’t understand why Deputy Chief Lee is so determined to frame him for the murders. Now she knows it’s to cover for his own crimes. Deputy Chief Lee argues that Dong Baek is at least the Eraser’s accomplice, but Sun-mi asserts that Deputy Chief Lee is trying to crush Dong Baek because he figured out that Deputy Chief Lee covered up Young-dae’s murder and the incident in Shimbae.
Meanwhile, Dong Baek escapes, and he’s reminded of another time he ran this desperately, just after Cho-won disappeared. He’d been passing out flyers, and a political candidate named Go Hyun-ah had come by and shaken his hand. Dong Baek had read her memories, then he’d screamed and shoved her to the ground. He’d run to a bridge tunnel, where he’d found Cho-won’s body under a tarp.
Deputy Chief Lee heard of Dong Baek again while he was on trial for assaulting Go Hyun-ah. Dong Baek’s defense was that he had read her memory, and Deputy Chief Lee had been reminded of the young boy at the Shimbae incident. In the present, Deputy Chief Lee learns that the Eraser is targeting family members of his enemies, so he orders his wife and teen son taken to a safe house.
Dong Baek is designated the primary suspect in the Eraser case, but Chil-gyu argues loudly that Dong Baek can’t be guilty. Sung-han, Sun-mi’s former right-hand man, just tells them to use deadly force if necessary. Chief Byun goes so far as to request evidence of Dong Baek’s guilt from Deputy Chief Lee, but he just gets put in his place.
Dong Baek hides out in the attic at Jae-gyu’s house, and when he comes downstairs in the morning, sick from reading Deputy Chief Lee’s memories, he’s surprised to see Sun-mi. She wants to interrogate him, asserting that she hasn’t ruled out that he might be the Eraser and will arrest him if he says anything suspicious.
She asks if Jae-gyu was really a shaman, and Dong Baek says he had psychic powers he got from his mother, a shaman. We flash back to 1971 when Jae-gyu was eight, and he’d watched her slaughter a goat in a ritual for a family. The teenage daughter, Dong Baek says, was Jae-gyu’s “worst enemy,” and the reason his powers manifested.
The girl, Hwang Pil-seon, had been the leader of a gang of thugs, and had instructed one of them to pee on Jae-gyu. Jae-gyu had suddenly started speaking in a strange voice, then he’d hissed that the boy’s brother died horribly in Vietnam two days prior.
The boy had believed him when Jae-gyu channeled his brother and begged him to look after their parents. Next, Jae-gyu had turned to Pil-seon, and in that demonic voice, had told her she would die a brutal, pathetic death.
Stumbling home, Jae-gyu was knocked off the road by a car on its way to his mother’s shrine. When he arrived, well after dark, he’d found his mother dying after drinking pesticide.
Hearing this about Jae-gyu, Sun-mi tells Dong Baek that Jae-gyu made four statements to her before he died: That the Eraser is hidden in Dong Baek’s memory, that she would find Dong Baek at his home, to find Cho-won, and that Dong Baek was at the church the night Park Ki-dan was murdered. Dong Baek admits that he did go there to scan Park Ki-dan’s memory, but he changed his mind and never went inside because he knew Cho-won wouldn’t want him to hurt anyone.
He tells Sun-mi that Go Hyun-ah, the woman running for office, had been driving with her lover when she hit Cho-won with her car. They’d thought she was dead and had hidden her body under the bridge, but then they’d seen her moving. Thinking of her political career, Hyun-ah had taken a rock and finished the job.
Sun-mi says that her instinct that Dong Baek would never kill anyone was correct, but it had crossed her mind that he might suffer from multiple personality disorder, with an alternate personality that became the Eraser. Now she says that she trusts him and wants to keep working together until they catch the Eraser.
They go back to discussing the Shimbae incident and conclude that someone else besides Dong Baek was there, who went on to kill Dong Baek’s mother. Sun-mi thinks that when Jae-gyu referred to the “young devil,” he could also have been talking about Young-kang, who was a teenager at the time and might have become the Eraser after those seven boys killed his brother.
What they still don’t know is the identity of the Eraser’s ultimate target. Sun-mi tells Dong Baek to let him handle things, still worried about his health, and she says she has a lead on someone who’s been helping Young-kang..
Meanwhile, Se-hoon is upset by a nasty anti-Dong Baek article written by Ji-eun’s agency, so he asks her to write the truth about Dong Baek. He even cries, thinking about the day he met Dong Baek, who’d seemed very lonely. Se-hoon had fearlessly offered to shake Dong Baek’s hand, and they’ve been friends ever since.
Se-hoon says that Dong Baek isn’t as cocky as he seems, it’s just that when Dong Baek reads memories, the emotions of the victims fade over time while the evil memories of criminals become more vivid. The love of his fans is what gets Dong Baek through it. Se-hoon tells Ji-eun that he’s going in front of the disciplinary committee with Dong Baek, but that he’ll stay beside Dong Baek, even if it means losing his badge.
Dong Baek and Sun-mi approach Secretary Seo at Assemblyman Bang’s home and show her the video Sun-mi took of Young-kang holding a knife to her throat. They’ve noticed that she was actually helping him get to the stairs to escape. Secretary Seo insists that Young-kang is a good person and begs them to save him.
Next they head to the hotel where Secretary Seo said Young-kang is hiding out, and they recognize Deputy Chief Lee’s men, which means that Deputy Chief Lee and his family are sequestered there. Sun-mi sighs that Young-kang isn’t hiding — he’s here to kill his next target.
Deputy Chief Lee has men all over the hotel, so when Sun-mi calls to warn him that he’s the Eraser’s next target, he brags that he can protect his family. They go up to see him in person anyway, and Deputy Chief Lee orders Dong Baek arrested and interrogated. Suddenly the lights go out and the armed men outside the room fall unconscious from gas piped into the hall.
A hooded figure in a gas mask steps over them and enters Deputy Chief Lee’s suite. Dong Baek and Sun-mi also brought gas masks (Secretary Seo told them what Young-kang was planning), and they come out of hiding, shoot him in the leg, and disable him. Dong Baek scans Young-kang, but while he’s still scanning, Deputy Chief Lee (also masked) approaches and tases him and Sun-mi. He points Dong Baek’s gun at Dong Baek, but the emergency responders enter in time to foil his plan.
Luckily, Chief Gu hijacks the van that Deputy Chief Lee’s men put Dong Baek and Sun-mi into and saves them. But Dong Baek insists they go back to the hotel, and he calls Deputy Chief Lee and yells that Young-kang was just a decoy.
Sure enough, one person dressed in an emergency responders’ uniform hangs back after the others have left. When Deputy Chief Lee rushes to his room, what he sees makes him scream in horror. Deputy Chief Lee’s son is rushed to the hospital with twenty nails in his body, and thankfully, the doctors are able to save him.
Dong Baek tells Sun-mi what he saw in Young-kang’s memory — when the seven Shimbae victims killed Young-kang’s brother, there was actually an eighth person there… Assemblyman Bang. They return to his home to confront him, and Soo-kyung’s mother tearfully begs Dong Baek to save her daughter and “our Cho-won.” After a moment of shock, Dong Baek realizes that Cho-won is the name of Soo-kyung’s unborn child.
But what really grabs Dong Baek’s dismayed attention are the family photos on the wall. He immediately recognizes someone from Jae-gyu’s memories, and suddenly he knows who the Eraser’s ultimate target is — Jae-gyu’s half-sister and Assemblyman Bang’s mother, who force-fed Jae-gyu’s mother the poison that killed her… Pil-seon.
EPISODE 14: “Two Layers of Evil”
One day when Jae-gyu was a little boy, a rich man had come to the shrine to visit his mother in private (if you get my drift). That night, Jae-gyu told his mother that he wanted to grow up to be a prosecutor or a judge, but then his mother died and the spirit she served had entered his body.
He’d been found the next day, praying over his mother’s body in vain. Jae-gyu had been committed to a sanitorium for fifteen years, until one of the nurses (Sang-ah’s mother) helped him escape. Jae-gyu had gone to the rich man’s home, knowing he was his father.
Jae-gyu had confronted Pil-seon for poisoning his mother and bribing the hospital director to keep him locked up. He’d pointed his gun at Pil-seon, but then he’d sunk to his knees and begged her to let him go or kill him. Pil-seon had taken the gun and shot him in the chest.
In the present, Pil-seon condescends to speak to Dong Baek, who tells her gleefully that the Eraser is after her for covering up the fact that her son committed murder. Pil-seon pretends to know nothing of any of this, and Dong Baek quips that he’s starting to understand the Eraser.
He tells Assemblyman Bang to come clean about Young-dae’s murder if he wants to save the lives of his wife and unborn child. But Pil-seon says that all she cares about are her family and her son’s reputation, and that anyone who harms Assemblyman Bang’s reputation will pay.
Deputy Chief Lee visits Young-kang’s hospital room and orders him to say who the Eraser is if he wants to live. Young-kang snarls that he died twenty years ago when his brother was murdered, his mother killed herself, and his father disappeared. He warns Deputy Chief Lee that the Eraser didn’t miss his son’s vital spots by accident, and says this is just the beginning of his suffering.
Young-kang can’t say who the Eraser is as his memory’s been erased, so Deputy Chief Lee lets Chun Ki-soo, who’s been in hiding, into the room. Ki-soo tortures Young-kang, who just laughs and says that his brother was burned then fell to his death, but that the Eraser promised that Ki-soo will hit rock bottom, then be burned slowly.
Flying into a rage, Ki-soo strangles him and asks again who the Eraser is. Young-kang only laughs like a crazy person, so Ki-soo pulls out a huge knife and prepares to end him.
In the hall, Secretary Seo meekly asks to be allowed to visit Young-kang, but she’s turned away. Chief Byun is alarmed to see that Deputy Chief Lee’s people are guarding Young-kang’s room when they don’t have jurisdiction, so he and his people barge through them. Ki-soo calmly leaves Young-kang’s room, and whew, Young-kang is still alive (though still cackling insanely).
Chief Gu and Se-hoon sneak into Jae-gyu’s house through the underground tunnel (Se-hoon gets slapped for making mouse noises and freaking out Chief Gu, hee). Dong Baek tells them about Hwang Pil-seon and how all of the Eraser’s murders connect back to her, but Sun-mi still has a lot of questions.
First of all, why did the Eraser wait twenty years before resuming his quest for revenge? Why did Jae-gyu let Pil-seon live when she killed his mother? Dong Baek has an answer for that one — he’d predicted her brutal death, so killing her early would have been a mercy she didn’t deserve.
Ji-eun is caught writing a positive article praising Dong Baek. She’s bullied and threatened, but she says that she’ll sue the company if they fire her unjustly. Everything changes when they get an anonymous call from the Eraser offering an exclusive scoop, but only if Ji-eun writes the article. Ji-eun refuses, saying that they would be giving the Eraser what he wants.
Sun-mi also asks what the Eraser had against the Shimbae victims — he helped Young-kang get revenge on those who killed his brother, but why? She thinks that the answer to this question, and the reason why he waited twenty years, will lead to the Eraser’s identity.
Dong Baek complains that Sun-mi didn’t mention the Eraser’s resentment for Pil-seon’s family so he could have scanned her, but Sun-mi forbids him to scan anyone else. Dong Baek moans that his doctor is being a worrywart, but Chief Gu and Se-hoon are also very concerned for him.
The Eraser also sent an envelope containing horrific photos of Soo-kyung, Assemblyman Bang’s wife. He’d threatened to drive a nail into her every day until Dong Baek dies, and one of the photos is of Soo-kyung’s foot with a nail through it. Most people are fascinated by the reference to Dong Baek, and speculation rages regarding why the Eraser is targeting Dong Baek.
Deputy Chief Lee personally shows the photos to Assemblyman Bang, who shakes and screams with frustration. Assemblyman Bang accuses Deputy Chief Lee of creating this mess because he couldn’t control Dong Baek, but Deputy Chief Lee points out that it was Assemblyman Bang’s actions twenty years ago that created the Eraser.
Interrupting, Pil-seon says that she doesn’t care if Soo-kyung lives, only that her son isn’t harmed by a scandal. She tells Deputy Chief Lee that anyone who poses a threat to her son must be buried, meaning the Eraser and Dong Baek.
Dong Baek dreams of Cho-won, but when he touches her arm, she turns into Soo-kyung and he startles awake. He gets caught trying to leave the house by Sun-mi, who says gently that Soo-kyung’s unborn baby isn’t his Cho-won, and that he shouldn’t be reckless out of guilt.
He tries to storm out anyway and sets off an alarm, waking up Chief Gu and Se-hoon. Chief Gu nags and Se-hoon says he’s Robin to Dong Baek’s Batman and goes wherever he goes. They devolve into their usual bickering, but it’s Sun-mi’s simple “We’re a team” that convinces Dong Baek to stay.
After learning that his son will recover, Deputy Chief Lee meets with Ki-soo in the parking garage. Ki-soo says sadly that nothing has meaning since his son was murdered, so Deputy Chief Lee tells him to take a break and let him get revenge. Ki-soo insists on helping and asks who the Eraser is, and Deputy Chief Lee tells him that Dong Baek is either the Eraser or an accomplice.
He shows Ki-soo a CCTV still of Dong Baek wearing a backpack to the hotel and claims that he used a tool hidden inside it to attack his son, though he himself inspected the backpack and knows it only contained Dong Baek’s gas mask.
Assemblyman Bang is at home preparing for a press conference and Secretary Seo brings him water and some medicine. Pil-seon says that a televised plea won’t get Soo-kyung home, and that even if she did return, she’s not as loyal as servants like Secretary Seo and would probably leave him when she finds out why she was abducted.
She notices Secretary Seo’s strange expression and orders her guard to kill Secretary Seo, and without hesitation, he begins to strangle her. Pil-seon laughs that that’s true loyalty and lets him release Secretary Seo. Pil-seon tells Assemblyman Bang that even if Soo-kyung dies, losing her will allow him to amass even more power.
At the venue where the press conference is to be held, the cops have set up a trap for Dong Baek. He sneaks in and seems to be going right for it, and he’s cornered in the elevator. Thankfully Chief Byun is a man of principle, and despite Deputy Chief Lee’s orders to kill Dong Baek on sight, Chief Byun tells his men not to shoot no matter who they see.
When the elevator doors open, Dong Baek is standing with his back to the door and his hands in the air. He turns around… and it’s Se-hoon, who grins cheekily at his friends.
Assemblyman Bang begins the press conference and speaks directly to the Eraser, offering his own life for his wife’s safe return. He gets on his knees, and as the reporters are snapping pictures, the real Dong Baek steps onstage and touches Assemblyman Bang’s shoulder to read his memories.
What he sees is a nightmare — not only did Assemblyman Bang help kill Young-dae, but that same day, he’d raped and killed a young woman. Dong Baek takes a gun from his pocket and uses it to hold off the cops while he escapes, but he’s so dizzy from scanning Assemblyman Bang that he sags weakly.
Ji-eun steps up to help him and they meet up with Chief Gu, and the three of them make it to the parking garage. Dong Baek drops the gun on the way, and one of the cops realizes it’s just a tear gas gun. Chief Gu stays back to delay the cops and Ji-eun goes to get the car.
Dong Baek calls Sun-mi and tells her about Assemblyman Bang’s other victim, a twenty-year old woman named Yoo Ah-young, who just so happened to be the daughter of Shimbae’s fire station chief. He gasps that the chief is the Eraser, and we see Soo-kyung in the filthy warehouse, with the fire chief nearby watching the press conference intently.
Dong Baek staggers out to the van when Ji-eun pulls up, but he’s too weak to move quickly. Ki-soo has been waiting for him and speeds towards Dong Baek with his car, intending to kill him. At the last second, Chief Gu shoves Dong Baek into Ji-eun’s van, and Dong Baek watches with horror as Ki-soo’s car bears down on his friend.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Show, if you hurt my Chief Gu — or my Se-hoon for that matter — I will never forgive you. One of this drama’s weaknesses is that it hasn’t paid much attention to developing the characters (more on that later), but the actors who play Chief Gu and Se-hoon are extremely charismatic on their own and have managed to carve out a little place in my heart for themselves anyway. Dong Baek doesn’t have many people on his side, but those two love him like family, and if the Eraser possesses a shred of compassion (I still think it’s a woman and that the fire chief is another decoy, and I have a pretty good idea who she is by now), she won’t take them from Dong Baek.
This is honestly one of the most convoluted drama plots I’ve ever seen, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a lot of the reason I got so far behind on recaps is because I just keep getting so confused. the Eraser certainly has a lot of targets, and while we can see now how they all point in the same direction, I wish the show had done a little bit better job in laying out all the relationships and connections. Every time there was a new murder, we learned everything backwards and only got the full picture well after the action took place. I’m not a screenwriter and I can’t say how it could have been done better, but as a viewer, I just wish it had been a little easier to understand while things were happening instead of after the fact.
I don’t mind stories with meandering plots, because often the twists allow the story to misdirect and bamboozle the audience in fun ways, which I do think Memorist has accomplished. But there’s a point at which the meandering becomes too loose and it just gets confusing. I think Memorist crossed this line just enough to make it difficult to understand a lot of the time, though not so far that I ever lost interest. I just wonder if some of the murders and scenes of the team gathering evidence that ultimately led to dead ends could have been shaved down. I would have rather had a bit more straightforward of a story, and filled that time with scenes where we got to know our characters better. As it is, I feel like I know their stats and histories, but nothing much about them as people. I’d have liked to see Dong Baek and Sun-mi relaxing at the pojangmacha, drinking soju and talking about why they got into law enforcement. I would have loved more scenes with Chief Gu and Se-hoon being hilarious together. I would even have liked to get to know Jae-gyu better — the episode with his backstory is probably my favorite episode of the whole drama, because I found his duality of killer versus loving father to be fascinating.
I’m going to keep this Comments short, so I can quickly move on to the final two episodes. But I’m curious to hear what you guys think will happen. Who is the Eraser and why is s/he targeting Dong Baek? And how does Dong Baek’s past connect with everything happening now?
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