Alice: Episode 9
Our leads are growing closer to learning the truth about time travel and their roles in its discovery and (hopefully) ending, though mostly they’re still flailing around without much clear direction. Meanwhile, just being near the woman who reminds him so much of his mother has our endearingly awkward puppet growing closer to being a real boy… if he can stay alive long enough, that is.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. – Carl Sandburg
After falling off the roof of a high-rise with Hae-min, Tae-yi finds herself unexpectedly in the year 2021. She goes to the police station looking for Jin-gyum, only to learn that he died almost a year ago. She refuses to believe it, when he just saved her life moments ago.
Looking for Jin-gyum, she runs to his mother’s house where they were staying, but it’s obviously been empty for quite a while. She breaks down crying, sobbing that Jin-gyum promised to wait here for her.
In the present (2020), Jin-gyum watches Hae-min’s body being taken away and tries to call Tae-yi, but naturally her phone isn’t working. He also goes to the house, following the tracking app on her phone, which is pinging even though she’s not physically there. We see them standing in the same place, but separated by time.
Jin-gyum sees the sticky notes on the wall where he’d written to Tae-yi and she’d responded. He writes more notes asking if she’s in the house, urging her not to be scared, and promising to save her no matter what year she’s in. A year later, Tae-yi sees the notes and decides to have faith in Jin-gyum.
A little dazed, Tae-yi ends up in front of Crime Squad, her family’s restaurant. Tae-yeon is surprised to see her, as she’s supposedly in Spain for a month with someone named Mr. Kim. Tae-yi goes inside and her family notices her off mood, and they assume that she and this Mr. Kim broke up which is why she’s home early.
Later, she and Tae-yeon go to their apartment and Tae-yeon notices that Tae-yi obviously feels strange. In her room, Tae-yi finds a necklace she’s never seen before on her desk. She opens her laptop, and a picture pops up of her and Jin-gyum together. Oddly, she’s wearing the same necklace in the picture that she found on her desk. She searches online for Jin-gyum and finds an article saying that he was found dead in his home.
In 2020, Jin-gyum is looking at a storyboard of everything that’s happened when Dong-ho comes to tell him that CCTV cameras caught Tae-yi falling from the roof, but not hitting the ground. Feeling guilty for not protecting Tae-yi, he angrily demands that Jin-gyum tell him what he knows. He suddenly notices the board and asks why there are two pictures of Tae-yi, so Jin-gyum explains that one of them is his mother.
He tells Dong-ho that he thought they were the same person, too, until he saw them both on the same day (when he traveled back to 2010). Dong-ho is confused, so Jin-gyum reveals the truth: “There are time travelers who came from other dimensions.” He says that Tae-yi is probably in another dimension, which is exactly correct.
Still in 2021, Tae-yi goes to Oh-won (who must have somehow gotten free of his kidnapper) to ask if she can use her old lab to analyze something. He asks about her trip, so she assumes he means Spain, but he corrects, “No, time travel.” He tells her that she will return to 2020 and tell him about it, and he warns her never to think about time travel again once she’s back.
Tae-yi tells Oh-won how difficult it is to be in a time that appears familiar yet everything is foreign, and she begs him to explain why Jin-gyum died. Oh-won tells her about The Book of Prophecy and how it talks about the beginning and end of time travel. He says that Jin-gyum was after the missing final pages of the book, thinking he could end time travel and find his mother’s killer, but that the search got him killed by the same person who murdered his mother.
He says he’s never seen the final page of The Book of Prophecy because it disappeared in 1992. But he does know who had it, and when Tae-yi asks who it was, he gestures to her. He knows she can’t remember anything before she was left at the orphanage so he tells her, “There’s no way you can save Detective Park. Don’t even try to find him.”
At Jin-gyum’s old house, Tae-yi finds a box containing some of his things, including his dress uniform. Inside is the picture of the two of them from the online article, and strangely, a USB. She plugs it into her phone and sees that it’s CCTV footage of Captain Go behaving oddly.
In 2020, Captain Go sits in his car in a junkyard and reads the line in The Book of Prophecy that says The child who was born through the door of time, will eventually take control of time. Captain Go heads down some stairs to a concrete bunker, where Oh-won is still being held captive.
He asks how Oh-won got The Book of Prophecy, and when Oh-won asks if he’s in league with the person who tried to kill him, Captain Go just levels a gun at his head and demands to know where the final page of the book is. We see that behind his left ear, there’s a mark on Captain Go’s head that looks like a backwards epsilon.
Jin-gyum and Dong-ho check Hae-min’s autopsy report, but nothing seems out of the ordinary. Jin-gyum places a tracking device in Hae-min’s mouth, and he tells Dong-ho that the other time travelers will come for Hae-min’s body, so he plans to track down their base and save Tae-yi.
At the Alice base, Min-hyuk asks Shi-young if she saw Tae-yi (the version that was Jin-gyum’s mother) when she visited Sergeant Hong in prison. She says that she did, in 2011, but she continues to lie that Tae-yi had remarried. Min-hyuk storms out, not seeming to believe her.
He and Shi-young are called in front of Cheol-am when the Alice team learns about Hae-min’s death and a wormhole opening near his body. Cheol-am holds Shi-young responsible, since it was her team that was supposed to be observing yet they somehow missed it. She volunteers to fix her mistake personally, and after she’s gone, Min-hyuk asks to see her time travel records from 2011.
Soon Hae-min’s body goes predictably missing, and Dong-ho calls Jin-gyum, who quickly starts tracking the body’s location. Shi-young notices him tailing her and orders her driver to speed up. Jin-gyum ends up in an empty parking garage, and he’s taken by surprise when Shi-young steps up behind him and puts her scary, futuristic gun to his head.
He asks Shi-young where Tae-yi is, but she just tells him not to look for her. Jin-gyum recognizes Shi-young — she’d shown up at his mother’s funeral in 2010, and they’d briefly locked eyes. Shi-young offers Jin-gyum one chance to forget all this and stop looking for Tae-yi, but Jin-gyum says that he doesn’t care if she’s his mother or not, he’s still going to protect her.
Quick as a flash, Jin-gyum shoves Shi-young against a wall and orders her to tell him where Tae-yi is. Just as quickly, Shi-young kicks Jin-gyum’s shin, flips him over, and takes a shot at him. He dodges the bullet but takes a foot in the face, and when he gets off the floor, Shi-young shoots him in his left arm.
She says she did nothing wrong, that this is all his mother’s fault, then fires at his head. Jin-gyum watches, mystified, as the bullet stops in midair just inches from his face.
Meanwhile, in 2021, Tae-yi is crying at the cemetery where Jin-gyum’s body was interred, unaware that his mother’s ossuary is only a few feet away. It’s raining heavily, and she doesn’t notice when the rain and everything around her suddenly freeze in place.
Jin-gyum looks around and realizes that everything is still, not just the bullet. He goes outside, and everything is frozen there, too. A sharp noise rings in his head and he collapses to his knees as the world starts to move again. In 2021, his picture disappears from the ossuary, but Tae-yi doesn’t notice right away.
Dong-ho calls Jin-gyum to say that they’ve located Tae-yi at the cemetery. He hurries there, and he sees her standing in front of an empty ossuary. Tae-yi stops crying when she hears Jin-gyum’s voice, and she realizes that she’s somehow back in 2020. She hugs Jin-gyum tightly and thanks him, and he sighs that he’s okay then passes out.
Tae-yi takes Jin-gyum home, bandages his arm, and puts him to bed. He asks if she time-traveled, but she fibs that she woke up at the cemetery and doesn’t know where she was. She reminds him that she became a physicist in order to invent a time machine and go back to see her mother, but now that she’s actually traveled in time, she realizes that while the people in the future were her family, she missed her real family in the past.
She says that even if you can time travel and see someone who’s no longer here, they still can’t stay with you. She asks Jin-gyum to let go of his wish to travel back and save his mother, but Jin-gyum says that’s not her concern. Tae-yi replies that it’s her concern when he keeps getting hurt and breaking her heart: “Why do you keep being good to me and making things hard for me? Why do you keep making me think about you?”
Jin-gyum guesses that something must happen to him in the future, but Tae-yi doesn’t want to tell him the truth so she lies that he’s doing fine. She quickly leaves the room, and I don’t think Jin-gyum is convinced. Tae-yi finds the new sticky notes that he left on the wall for her and compares them to the old, crinkled ones she saved, and the reminder of his (lack of a) future makes her cry all over again.
The coroner at Alice finds a tiny device embedded behind Hae-min’s left ear, under a mark that looks identical to Captain Go’s, and tells Min-hyuk that this is how the illegal time travelers manage to travel without using the gate. Min-hyuk asks her what happens if a pregnant woman travels through the gate — will the baby survive? The coroner says it’s not impossible, but that the baby certainly won’t be normal. Something about it reminds Min-hyuk of Jin-gyum’s alexithymia.
Oh-won still hasn’t returned and his assistant is scared that he might be dead, but Tae-yi knows for a fact that he’s alive. Meanwhile, Dong-ho is going along with with Jin-gyum’s claims of time travelers, and Jin-gyum adds a sketch of Shi-young to his board and says that she knew his mother and Oh-won.
He tasks Dong-ho with finding Tae-yi’s mother — he doesn’t believe she died, because Tae-yi remembers her mother taking her to the orphanage. Jin-gyum thinks finding her mother will help him figure out why the time travelers targeted her family.
Sergeant Hong has finally noticed that Hae-min’s file has gone missing, and the team recalls that Captain Go stayed behind when they went out to lunch, the day they were reviewing the files. Jin-gyum looks unsettled, and later Captain Go reminds him that his mother’s memorial is tomorrow, but Jin-gyum refrains from asking Captain Go whatever he was going to ask.
Do-yeon finds a man who says that he witnessed Hae-min and Tae-yi falling from the building. The man tells her on the record that he and his coworkers saw both people fall, but when they looked down, there was only one body on the pavement.
Tae-yi arrives home that night to find Jin-gyum trying to wash his hair one-handed so as not to get his bandage wet. She offers to wash his hair for him, and haha, I think she’s enjoying it more than he is. Of course, Do-yeon busts in and sneers that they may as well just take a bath together.
The ladies glare daggers at each other as Do-yeon dries Jin-gyum’s hair, and they argue over who has more right to stay the night now that the suspect Tae-yi was hiding from is dead. The end up sharing a bed, insisting that they’re not the least bit uncomfortable, while Jin-gyum takes the living room again.
Do-yeon asks where Tae-yi was while she was missing, but Tae-yi doesn’t want to answer so she deadpans, “In a year, you and I will walk the Camino de Santiago together.” LOL. Tae-yi asks Do-yeon when she started having feelings for Jin-gyum, and Do-yeon smiles as she remembers a day ten years ago.
Soon after Jin-gyum’s mother’s funeral, Do-yeon had shown up at his house and when he hadn’t wanted to let her in, she’d thrown a rock through his window. Is that supposed to be cute?? Because it looks like stalking and destruction of property.
Once inside, Do-yeon had fussed at Jin-gyum for skipping the play they’d worked on in drama club. She left him some food from her mom, but he’d moped that he only eats his mother’s kimchi. She’d refused to leave unless he walked with her, claiming the ten minutes difference between the walk there and now means she’s now totally frightened to go alone.
In the present, Do-yeon tells Tae-yi that falling in love is the fastest thing in the world. She says she doesn’t know when she fell for Jin-gyum, it just suddenly happened. HAHA, Tae-yi gripes that the fastest thing in the world is light, duh.
The next day, Tae-yeon grudgingly delivers Chinese food to Jin-gyum and Tae-yi at the safehouse. She assumes that they’re shacking up together, but Tae-yi tells her that there’s another girl living there, too. Tae-yeon gasps, “Unni, I didn’t know you were so free!” hee.
She mentions that it’s Tae-yi’s birthday… oh right, Jin-gyum’s mother died on her birthday, so of course her memorial day is also this Tae-yi’s birthday. Jin-gyum asks how Tae-yi knows her birthday, so she tells him that it’s the only thing she remembers besides her name. She reaches up to scratch an itchy shoulder, and oh noooo, she’s got a radiation rash.
Jin-gyum drives Tae-yi home later, and she gently teases him for not getting her a birthday gift. He leaves her at Crime Squad, and although Tae-yi notices the strange woman lurking outside, she doesn’t know Shi-young.
At Alice, Min-hyuk reads Jin-gyum’s family register and suddenly he rushes out of the room. He goes all the way to the cemetery, where he sees his Tae-yi’s ossuary and confirms that she died ten years ago. He sees the photo of her with Jin-gyum, and the fact that Jin-gyum is his son hits him like a ton of bricks. He sinks to his knees, sobbing and apologizing.
Jin-gyum and Do-yeon show up at Captain Go’s home for the memorial, which Captain Go conducts with gravitas as if he’s not probably her killer. Do-yeon had been caught by her parents leaving Jin-gyum’s place that morning, so she tells him that she can’t sleep over anymore. She asks if he’s sad about it, and he says in a totally emotionless voice, “Yes, I am.” HA.
Tae-yi’s family throws her a little birthday party, and she surprises them with gifts for them. She explains that she was traveling and realized how precious family is, and when Tae-yeon asks when and where she went, she gives them the same answer Jin-gyum once gave her: “Somewhere very close, yet very far.”
Awww, Jin-gyum waits with a cake for Tae-yi to come home. She prompts him to sing, and for a moment he’s transported back to his mother’s birthday, when he’d choked on the “I love you” line of the song. This time he pushes through and sings it to Tae-yi, and when she blows out the candles, he even breaks into a genuine smile.
Tae-yi notices, and she tells him that he has a beautiful smile. She asks if he wants to go for samgyupsal and soju, reminding him again of his mother’s final birthday, and they head out together.
Outside, she asks if Jin-gyum really didn’t get her a birthday gift, then says the cake is enough, then pouts that she’s only getting him cake for his birthday, hee. She simpers happily when he produces a real gift box, but when she opens it and sees the necklace that she’ll be wearing in the photo she saw in the future, her eyes roll back and she passes out in Jin-gyum’s arms.
Jin-gyum notices radiation lesions on her arm and stares at them in shock. Out of nowhere, Min-hyuk runs around the corner, and he also sees the red rash on Tae-yi’s arm.
There’s so much going on plot-wise right now, I hardly know where to start. That necklace worries me… it’s a sweet gift, but the fact that Tae-yi is wearing it in the picture with Jin-gyum that’s used in future articles about his murder tells me that he’s still in danger. I think that’s why Tae-yi passed out… she realized the meaning of the necklace showing up now. I don’t understand why she won’t tell him the truth, because she really needs to tell him what she learned in 2021 so that he can take steps to stop it from happening! Tae-yi knows that he dies on October 15th, only a few days from now (seriously, that would have been the FIRST thing I told him him as soon as I got home!), so there’s really no excuse for her not to tell him about it.
As ide from my frustration with her at the moment, one thing I’ve noticed is what a positive influence Tae-yi has had on Jin-gyum. His mother was working on helping him with his actions and behaviors to that he could more easily function in society, but after she died, he sort of stagnated and never progressed any further. Tae-yi isn’t making any kind of conscious effort to continue his lessons, but she’s making an impression on him anyway, and I can see how much he’s growing. He’s learning to join in when there’s silly fun happening (that dance party!), and he’s even starting to tell little white lies to make people feel better, though he’s still pretty stilted about it. But just the fact that he’s trying and evolving is really nice to see.
I feel like I want to talk about Captain Go and what his heckin’ deal is, but we really haven’t learned much more about him in the last two episodes. At this point, I’m not sure if he’s Teacher or if this is all a huge misdirection, since all the “evidence” we’ve seen could easily weigh on either side. At first I think, why would he let Jin-gyum live with him for years and help him become a detective if he didn’t want him to find out the truth and was only going to kill him later? But then I think, maybe Captain Go was just trying to keep Jin-gyum nearby so he could redirect him whenever he got too close to the truth? The whole scene where he held a gun to Oh-won’s head seems pretty damning, as well as the mark behind his ear that might be for the device that the illegal time travelers have. But Tae-yi saw Oh-won in the future and he’s perfectly fine, plus he didn’t mention Captain Go at all. I don’t really know what to think, but I’m dying to know more then “Captain Go seems awfully suspicious!”
I’ve felt from the very beginning that Min-hyuk is the most tragic character in this story, and now all that tragedy has finally come home. I’m so invested in his experiences that I almost — almost — wish this drama had been told from Min-hyuk’s point of view… imagine Alice as the story of a man who dedicates his life to something he feels strongly is a benefit to mankind, only to discover that that very thing has ruined his own life. I’ve even enjoyed how the show has let Min-hyuk fight with and be hateful to Jin-gyum without knowing who he was, because it makes the revelation that his Tae-yi is dead and Jin-gyum is their son that much more wrenching. All this time, Min-hyuk has seen Jin-gyum as the enemy and repeatedly tried to neutralize or even kill him, but now he knows that this man is his child. I wonder what he’ll do now that he knows the truth?