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Forest of Secrets 2: Episode 12

Now that our missing prosecutor case has stalled again, the police and prosecution turn their attention back to the ever-present issue of investigative authority. Both sides prepare for the second Police-Prosecution Council meeting, and the leaders are still just as unwilling to compromise. But not everyone is ready to move on from the kidnapping case, and the stress of the situation may be affecting our righteous prosecutor more than he realizes.

 
EPISODE 12

We flashback to Ki-hyuk first learning of the reward money through the video of Dong-jae’s wife pleading for information. Yeo-jin reports to Chief Choi that Ki-hyuk indeed intentionally chose Joong-gi from the lineup since he’s a cop.

They’re upset they have to turn him over to the prosecution, and Chief Choi argues this is why they need investigative authority. Chief Choi: “Tell Prosecutor Hwang thank— good work.” Pfft. Shi-mok, meanwhile, is updating Tae-ha who is clearly not having a good day. Yeo-jin passes along Chief Choi’s message and asks Shi-mok to grab a drink with her.

Elsewhere, Chief Choi and Tae-ha meet for some PPL coffee and a chat. Tae-ha wants her opinion on whether he should talk to Kwang-soo’s wife to see what she told Shi-mok, but Chief Choi isn’t worried about her. If someone came to her claiming her late husband was doing Hanjo’s dirty work, but they covered it up since he was a former prosecutor …

In a flashback, we see Tae-ha telling Kwang-soo’s wife that they may be forced to reinvestigate her husband’s activities prior to his death. The prosecutor in charge (Shi-mok) didn’t even know her husband, so he encourages her not to say anything about Hanjo or drinking “if you care about your husband and the prosecutors who covered for him back then.” She replies that of course she cares.

We fade back to Chief Choi saying that she’d never tell anyone anything in that situation. Tae-ha thinks they’re in good shape with Hanjo and Kwang-soo’s wife staying silent, but he can tell something is bothering Chief Choi. She shocks him by saying there’s someone else who might know: Oh Joo-seon.

Chief Choi relates what Joo-seon said about his dead colleague in Namyangju when he came to her office as Director Kim’s lawyer. She discovered that Joo-seon volunteered for the case and was brought in by the higher ups who want Director Kim’s actions to stay hidden.

Joo-seon has called her twice since they met, making her wonder if he knows something about Kwang-soo. She’s considering meeting up with him to feel him out, but Tae-ha worries he could cause problems.

Tae-ha regrets not taking Shi-mok off the team sooner, but Chief Choi points out he’s the reason they learned the witness was lying. He notes that Shi-mok and Yeo-jin seem to share everything; is she going to leave Yeo-jin alone? She thinks the council meetings will distract them.

As Yeo-jin drinks and Shi-mok munches on cabbage, Yeo-jin wonders if the culprit will send them anything else, but Shi-mok reminds her it’s only been two days since the photo was sent. Shi-mok raises the possibility that the photo wasn’t sent by the real culprit. He suddenly muses about how even deer can hit your car sometimes, leaving Yeo-jin naturally confused.

He says that the wife of someone who got in a fatal car accident (with a low blood alcohol level) says her husband drank regularly while his secretary says the opposite. Yeo-jin thinks it sounds like the wife is getting back at her husband for being a drunk. Why else respond to her husband’s death under the influence by saying he sometimes drank a lot?

Shi-mok gives her the rundown of the Kwang-soo case and explains that Dong-jae was looking into it right before he went missing. She doesn’t see how it’s related but can tell Shi-mok thinks it might be. It suddenly hits Yeo-jin that the case happened under Chief Choi’s jurisdiction, making her wonder if Dong-jae was targeting Chief Choi again.

She starts looking up articles and notes that he was in the 25th class. Shi-mok has a realization and calls Chief Prosecutor Kang. Without even saying hello, he just asks if he was in the 25th class. Pfft. Chief Prosecutor Kang tells Shi-mok he can stop by the office the following day.

Shi-mok gets a text from Tae-ha about the next council meeting, but Yeo-jin hasn’t heard anything. She calls Chief Choi who’s surprised she already knows and guesses Shi-mok must’ve told her. She thinks of Tae-ha’s comment that they seem to tell each other everything.

Yeo-jin’s eyes go wide when Chief Choi tells her the investigation is over – their office only got involved since cops were suspects. While Chief Choi speculates that they won’t find Dong-jae alive, we cut to a bound, unmoving Dong-jae. Someone shakes him and removes his blindfold and gag, but he looks pale and remains unresponsive. Oh, no. Chief Choi continues they should hand over the case before they get blamed.

The following day, Tae-ha refuses to let Shi-mok continue investigating, saying it’s not their case anymore. When he berates Shi-mok for not doing a better job, Sa-hyun steps in to tell Shi-mok that a new minister might be appointed, which spells bad news for the prosecution. (Aw, look at him being all sensitive.)

Tae-ha orders Shi-mok to prepare the reformation proposal. He wants to prove they’re able to conduct their own internal investigations without needing the police. Tae-ha is back in council mode and reiterates that they have to ensure nothing changes with investigative authority. Later, Sa-hyun dumps an ungodly number of documents related to the proposal on Shi-mok’s desk, telling him the rest is in the cloud.

Elsewhere, a blank-faced Joong-gi is released from custody. As he walks outside, he wishes he’d never allowed his officers to take bribes.

At the National Police Agency, Chief Choi directs Yeo-jin to pull data from the past nine years that demonstrates the prosecution’s screening system is ineffective. She wants her to find abuse of authority cases as well. Yeo-jin doesn’t look thrilled at the prospect but dutifully begins combing through data.

And we finally catch up with Yeon-jae and her shadow Director Park who is giving her a status report. It seems things are looking up for the moment. Yeon-jae wonders whether she should call Joo-seon off – if things stay this quiet, it’s not necessary to dig into Chief Choi.

Director Park agrees they shouldn’t draw attention to themselves and carefully notes, “Most importantly, the person who brought up Choi Bit is now gone.” He leaves looking suspiciously happy that Yeon-jae agreed to go home early. But returns immediately to report that Joo-seon set up a meeting with Chief Choi.

She sends Director Park to meet with Joo-seon since she’s sure the police are up to something; there’s no way Chief Choi would just agree to meet. Yeo-jin instructs him to prepare cash, and if Chief Choi doesn’t have ulterior motives for meeting, give Joo-seon enough info to help him get intel. Don’t mention the vacation home or Dong-jae.

Director Park goes in some vault containing mountains of cash and casually drops what looks to be enough cash to pay my student loan in a bag. He then meets Joo-seon and hands the money over to pay his “expenses.” When Director Park questions Chief Choi’s decision to meet, Joo-seon asserts it’s only because he asked for info on Director Kim.

Joo-seon gets visibly nervous when Director Park checks that he hasn’t told anyone that he’s working with them. Director Park stares at him unsettlingly and asks menacingly if he should pay Joo-seon’s wife a visit, but Joo-seon assures Director Park he didn’t tell her anything. It’s just that he needed to get info on Kwang-soo, so he got drinks with Chief Prosecutor Kang who knew Kwang-soo.

Yeon-jae is aghast that he went to Chief Prosecutor Kang, especially because she knows that Shi-mok will go to him too. Now two people will be asking about Kwang-soo, which is bound to arouse suspicion. On top of that, Chief Prosecutor Kang said he didn’t even keep in touch with Kwang-soo after they graduated. She orders Director Park to have Joo-seon arrange meetings with both Chief Choi and Chief Prosecutor Kang.

At the Supreme Office, Tae-ha is not happy when he sees that Shi-mok’s proposal includes suggesting law changes. Tae-ha throws a fit at his mention of political bias and the Constitution and demands Shi-mok redo almost all of it. Shi-mok’s attempt at explanation just makes it worse, so Sa-hyun sends him out.

Sa-hyun appeals to Tae-ha, saying Shi-mok is allowed his own opinion. Tae-ha is not in the mood to be contradicted and throws him out too. Sa-hyun pulls Shi-mok aside to ensure he understands the situation. He acknowledges that Shi-mok did his job well, but in proving the culprit wasn’t a cop, he threw a wrench in the proceedings.

Shi-mok asks if he’s supposed to apologize, but Sa-hyun just doesn’t want him to take Tae-ha’s anger personally. Aw. Something on Sa-hyun’s shelf catches Shi-mok’s eye on his way out but we don’t see what.

In the main office, Shi-mok asks the assistant which prosecution branches charged Ki-hyuk, and one of them (Seongnam) seems to stand out to him. Meanwhile, Yeo-jin details her report to Chief Choi, arguing that the reason the police indict at a higher rate is that they take on far more cases, not that they indict indiscriminately.

At the next council meeting, Yeo-jin presents an abuse of authority case wherein a tax official who took bribes was let go by the prosecution after the police spent a year tracking him abroad. His brother was a deputy chief prosecutor, and he palled around with other prosecutors on the golf course who made reservations using fake names. If there were no corruption, the police would’ve been able to get a warrant – it was denied.

Sa-hyun counters with a case in which a tax official was accused of taking bribes only for it to be discovered that the true culprit was a police officer. Director Shin argues that they suspended him. Sa-hyun then mentions a chief who pressured that same precinct to leave a law-breaking demolition company alone since it’s CEO was his old classmate. That demolition company was left out of the materials given to the prosecution. Were the police to have the power to close cases, the company would’ve gone free.

Chief Choi says they’re here to try to better the system and make sure citizens aren’t wronged. This argument has spanned decades, but for the first time, the public is disappointed in the prosecution and supporting the police in this fight. Tae-ha admits the prosecution needs to change but doesn’t think turning the country into a “police state” is the way.

They go back and forth over who’s better suited, insulting each other and getting nowhere. Director Shin recites that prosecutors only lead investigations 4% of the time, but Shi-mok jumps in to correct his skewed statistic. That number refers to when a prosecutor directly intervenes from the start because of coerced investigations and the like.

Chief Choi accuses them of only trying to protect their privileges while pretending this is about human rights. Shi-mok argues that it’s not about privileges but maintaining the rights to investigate and indict given by the citizens. Chief Choi thinks those rights should be separated to prevent over-indicting.

Yeo-jin brings up that the police have no ability to investigate the prosecution – the police were able to summon a prosecutor (not counting DUIs and accidents) only once in their history. Tae-ha snaps that they can point fingers too, and Chief Choi blurts out that they could talk about corrupt prosecutors all day.

Gun speaks up, “It’s like watching a National Assembly meeting. You’re taking sides and fighting each other no matter what the issue is.” Thank you, sir! That effectively chastens everyone, and they decide to take a break.

Right then, Shi-mok gets one of his attacks. He tries to hide his pain, but Yeo-jin notices from across the table. He manages to slowly get up and walk out, leaving everyone confused by his abrupt exit. They’re even more confused when Yeo-jin runs out after him.

She catches up to Shi-mok while he stumbles down the hall and helps him sit in the stairwell. It seems they’ve decided to end for the day. While they all file out, Sa-hyun and Tae-ha wonder what’s going on with Shi-mok and Yeo-jin.

In the stairwell, Yeo-jin breathes a sigh of relief when Shi-mok nods that he’s okay. Yeo-jin notes he’s gotten stronger and pats his back comfortingly as she praises him for enduring the pain well. She then runs to get him a cold drink.

As they’re leaving, Chief Choi calls Tae-ha to tell him about her meeting with Joo-seon. She’s suspicious when he says he wants to go too, but she sends him the address after he says he’s concerned about her bearing it alone.

Yeo-jin tells Shi-mok that she sent a text to everyone saying that he wasn’t feeling well, so they all left. They probably think he has bad diarrhea. When he looks up at her, she defensively says she wasn’t about to them that she had it. Aw, he smiles! His first smile of the season.

Yeo-jin takes a swig of his drink and sighs that she was worried. When he apologizes, she gives him a hard thwack on the back like old times. Ha! He gets irritated but denies it, which Yeo-jin finds hilarious. Shi-mok complains he’s having trouble breathing now. Pfft.

Yeo-jin gives him a ride, and Shi-mok wants to accompany Yeo-jin to Yongsan, but she thinks he should rest. Even if there’s nothing new, he wants to check. Yeo-jin concernedly says that people can turn up fine after being missing, so he shouldn’t stress too much.

She guesses that he planned to visit Yongsan after the meeting to work on Dong-jae’s case, but the meeting kept dragging on with all their fighting. That’s probably why he got so stressed. It’s only when she correctly suspects that his head was fine in Tongyeong that he seems to consider she’s right.

Yeo-jin finds it funny that they were arguing just a short while ago. Shi-mok clarifies that he wasn’t saying the police can’t be trusted. For her part, Yeo-jin admits that getting investigative rights won’t solve everything either. When she explains that she didn’t say that at the meeting because it’s better to wait, Shi-mok observes that she was never the type to postpone things.

Elsewhere, Chief Choi and Tae-ha arrive for the meeting at Hanjo Hotel. The location tells them that Joo-seon must be working for Hanjo. They’re instructed to turn off their phones, but they’re thrown when Yeon-jae is the one waiting for them.

In another room, Joo-seon meets with Chief Prosecutor Kang. Joo-seon claims he’s torn about what to do and appeals to Chief Prosecutor Kang. He shows him a financial statement (given to him by Director Park) and whispers conspiratorially that it’s for Hanjo Engineering.

Meanwhile, Yeon-jae greets her guests. She’s never met Chief Choi, but she met Tae-ha at her husband’s funeral. Yeon-jae claims Kwang-soo mentioned Tae-ha and asks how they met. It was at the Incheon office. In a flashback, Tae-ha receives a text from Kwang-soo with an address.

Yeon-jae knows Tae-ha’s role, but she’s unsure how Chief Choi got involved. “Why did Lawyer Park die?” she asks them. While Director Park watches and listens from yet another room, Tae-ha throws Yeon-jae’s question back at her. “What did you do to Lawyer Park?”

 
COMMENTS

I had assumed that everyone involved in the Kwang-soo case was more aware of each other’s roles, but it doesn’t seem that way. I can’t tell who knows the truth of Kwang-soo’s death at this point. We know that Tae-ha and Chief Choi had a role in hiding Kwang-soo’s shady dealings with Hanjo, but it’s anyone’s guess whether either of them is involved deeper than that. And how is that vacation home Yeon-jae mentioned relevant? I remember Tae-ha nervously asking Shi-mok about a vacation home a couple episodes ago, so I’m guessing it’s that same one Yeon-jae was talking about.

Tae-ha is getting more unglued as the stress ratchets up. He’s even starting to alienate Sa-hyun, his staunch ally in the beginning. It’s kind of adorable how Sa-hyun is all Team Shi-mok now, taking him under his wing. In the beginning, Tae-ha was the one telling Sa-hyun to give Shi-mok a break, but now it’s flipped. I think he realizes Shi-mok isn’t being willfully disrespectful but instead just doesn’t fully get the social protocol. I’m genuinely surprised at how much nicer Sa-hyun is coming off lately. He was super annoying early on, but he’s grown on me. I think he might just be insecure and try too hard.

It’s interesting that Shi-mok didn’t even connect his attacks with stress. He’s usually so good at putting pieces together, but I guess if he doesn’t process stress psychologically, it would be hard to link the two. At least he’s got Yeo-jin who knows his condition and can help him connect the dots. I loved seeing them interact like old times. Everything this season has been so serious and grim that watching Shi-mok smile and Yeo-jin laugh was really refreshing. With everyone exhausted and jaded, some levity is sorely needed.

Round two of the council went about as well as round one. I’m not sure what they expect this council to solve or if it’s really expected to solve anything. There’s no plan – it’s just people talking at each other. I feel like it’s more for show than anything, a way for the organizations to show good faith and say, “See? We’re doing something.” But it’s so haphazard and vague that I don’t see how they’ll manage to agree on a proposal. Gun was like the audience mouthpiece, wondering what the point of it all is if they’re just fighting for the sake of fighting. They need to find some way to work together or it’s all just a waste of time.

We finally got a glimpse of Dong-jae, and it is not looking good. He really looked dead there, but with a show like this, I need to see confirmation that he’s dead to fully believe it. Even if he’s barely hanging on right now, the fact that his case has been punted to another office and all but pushed to a backburner is disheartening. If the public pressure eases, I fear there will be no incentive to work so hard to find him, especially since everyone already thinks he’s dead. Shi-mok’s idea that the note may not have been sent by the true culprit is intriguing. If it was a ruse just to set the police up or for some other reason, then they really have nothing to go on for this case. I still want to know why they kidnapped Dong-jae and have held him for about a week without making any demands. If they want revenge or want him gone, you’d think they’d kill him. If they want to use him for some goal, why aren’t they making a move? When even the motivation is so hard to ascertain, it’s no wonder little progress has been made despite a lot of hard work.

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God I feel like this show is going around in circles...
4 episodes left now, you'd think that by now we'd be getting some answers but I'm somehow even more confused than before.

The lack of a central plotline is really making it hard for me to engage with the season.

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I get the storyline can feel laborious but my reaction is different, because it is much like what I felt viewing FoS1 and Watcher, shows with a shared pedigree and similar themes. While I can feel confused and exhausted at times, I think that is meant to parallel what Shi-Mok and Yeo-Jin must be feeling wading hip-deep in seemingly endless corruption and political agendas. All three shows come with such a cynical, jaded perspective I can't enjoy them giddily but they really resonate, like a terrific film noir or a dark Russian novel. (Not that I am equating one thing to another.)

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Makes one wonder if corruption in the South Korean police is really a huge problem. It seems to me that most dramas about the police have corruption as the main theme.

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I think less a police-specific problem and more of a different-rules-for-the-rich and powerful issue. In more multi-cultural countries identity politics rage on the forefront but in homogeneous nations like SK, economic/class conflicts appear to be predominant.

In Singapore right now a fascinating four (?) year saga just concluded with a positive result where a Singaporean plutocrat tried (almost successfully) to rig the judicial system again an Indonesian maid who worked for him as a maid. It makes for a truly engrossing case study.

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Indonesian migrant, not maid

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yes, it is

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You might need something lighter, like a romantic comedy. This isn't a drama that goes from A to Z, and comes with an handsome oppa to boot.

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Can we just lock Shi-mok and Yeo-jin in a stairwell together and finish out the rest of the season like that? Those were the best few minutes of Stranger 2 so far.

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"Shi-mok munches on cabbage"

Shi-Mok eats! (albeit vegetable strips) We need more Shi-Mok and Yeo-Jin not only for bonding but so the poor man doesn't starve.

"Chief Choi and Tae-ha meet for some PPL coffee"

Lol, for all things FoS does differently, expecting less or no PPL is like expecting the sun not to rise, I guess. But it did get me thinking of other cliches I dearly wish would get retired. The strict no-romance zone of this show means no wrist grabbing of females, no pulling into a clinch to avoid traffic and no accidental hand-touching but I would like to also do without sweeping off a table in anger and clenching hand into a fist.

I also find it amusing that consistent with the no-romance dictate (?) although characters comment on the closeness between the lead characters, there is no explicit comment/joking about dating which appears to be de rigueur for other shows. Intentional, ya think?

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There was Sa Hyun's assumed ribbing earlier in the drama, but I believe it is mostly intentional.

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I can't recall it...was it an explicit dating reference or was it a question more like "What's with you two?" If the former, the expected shocked expression on Shi-Mok's face would have been sufficiently priceless for it to stick in my memory, i think.

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Tae-ha acts caring towards Chief Choi (if the translations are correct). He asks how she is feeling and dealing with the situation. He brings her coffee her and takes her cup.

Hate to say it but they either have something going on between them (or did), or he wanted her fingerprints and DNA (hahaha).

And did Tae-ha drink from the same cup as Choi Bit? Nope, only ShiMuk and YeoJin do that ;)

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I thought the fact that Tae-ha took Choi Bit's coffee back was because he wanted her fingerprints as well. I found it an odd thing to do. I was half expecting her to find out she'd been poisoned or something. idk he just seems so shady sometimes. It could just be a misdirect.

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Call me a gullible old softy, but I thought the coffee cup was meant to be a considerate gesture, almost mirroring Yeo-jin and the cola can. I assume the show is setting us up to believe that there's a lot of wariness between Choi and Woo, especially as they've been playing dirty tricks on each other in their capacity as council members. And each time they've met, they accused one another of suspicion or duplicity or whatever. E.g. Choi might really think Woo is tagging along to the meeting with Oh Joo-seon because he's afraid she might lay all the blame on him in his absence. But somehow I think they are truly supportive of each other, and I'm glad Woo didn't let Choi go to the meeting alone. Tbh when the two of them strode through the building, I was kind of cheering them on like they were Yeo-jin and Shi-mok.

Less sentimentally, IMO an experienced cop like Choi would be able to spot such DNA and fingerprint gathering tricks from miles away.

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I saw it as a networking meeting between two people who were pseudo-friends. Each wanting to get something out of the other. Fingerprints didn't cross my mind at all!, though I agree with @knewbie that someone like Choi would pick up on that quickly enough.

Separately, even as the drama is demonstrating what the real world is like for a woman in a leadership position, I like how it is balancing misogynists with other characters who are respectful of such female leadership and don't spend the entire 16 eps trying to belittle them.

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I had the same thought! Romance or evidence??

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Sorry Dalkomm, Taeha and Bit sitting in a cafe don't really fit you have to make do with just a takeaway. Hopefully the close up shot of the cup made up for it lol

I think the show gives just the right amount of male lead-female lead interaction in a no-romance drama. It's consistent with the no-romance but not too dry. It still gives a bit of something to squeal about. In season 1 with hints of Eunsoo's attraction toward Shimok. And Shimok Yeojin, it's not romance but they're so sweet nevertheless.

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Tbh, I have been bugged with the coffee PPL. It should have been woven in better - this is too unsubtle for the tenor of the show.

I liked the first season because it didn't have any and when I asked in an earlier post whether this show would have any PPL at all, I was hoping it wouldn't. :/ I guess no one heard me.

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But Season 1 have coffee PPL too~ I still remember the coffee sachet made a rather awkward appearances. The close up shot completed with a compliment "Wow this is as good as a cafe coffee". I guess some brands' PPL are kind of given for a drama produced by Studio Dragons. At least there's no Subway with matching Tshirts lol

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Ah I didn't see those as PPL! :p

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Hahaha I remember that. Eun-soo made that coffee for SDJ's assistant after he caught her in Dongjae's office. I remember it because it was overtly a PPL, but I thought it was intergrated into the story well enough (as well as a PPL can be).
Another one I distinctly remember was the coffee shop with the rabbit logo, just because that was a clue to the mystery early on, but that one was super well integrated (if it was an actual coffee shop)

I think the PPL this season is more overt. Dalkomm coffee is like right there in your face, but at least it's not Subway & it doesn't appear too much.
But I also think this show subverts it and balances it out with moments you THINK would be PPL, but chooses not to insert it. Like Shimok's colleagues getting their lunch delivered to their office and it not being PPL (I was actually amazed by that) or Shimok and Yeojin meeting in a non-descript restaurant this episode (wasn't this where he also met Kang Wonchul?)

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@yuyuu also when the special team having dinner on ep16, Clerk Kim made the coffee from the restaurant's water dispenser for him and Jang Geon..
But yes, like you said, the PPL is kind of balanced overall. When it was being a little too obvious, me and my friend always say "Okay, alright, we got it" at the same time and laugh it off. For Hyundai they did it better in Season 1 though. Remember the Lane Keep feature on Shimok's car, when he was driving absent mindedly following ambulance that bring Eunsoo's body? That was cool PPL.
The makgeolli house do have similar vibe with where Shimok met Kang Wonchul but I think it's different restaurant...

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I was gladly surprised that they didn't have coke PPL for the staircase scene. It would have ruined the whole mood.

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Agree~~

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I was expecting Chilsung cider to appear!

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Someone on DB commented on their fan wall after ep 11 that WTH and CB both seem connected by a green lighter.. In particular, WTH doesn't seem to have a lighter of his own in the first episodes but later acquires a green one.
-In ep 11, CB reveals a green lighter when she goes up to the rooftop to smoke around the 44-45 min mark.
-In ep 12, the culprit uses a green lighter when trying to wake/check up on SDJ. There's at least 2 cuts I thought the direction intentionally tried to "drop clues" so to say, like why did the ending shot need to center around scissors, a water bottle and a green lighter? Maybe it's a coincidence, but like Shi-mok's point about the license plate, you can't miss the green even in darkness.

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Oh, also now open to the possibility Sa-hyun is the culprit and whatever Shi-mok noticed in his office will bring the investigation forward.

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Now that I'm liking SaHyun...

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Se-won also turned from shifty to likable in FoS 1 and look how that turned out..

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Don’t remind me of that please 😭😭😭😭

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he is also hot...woah

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Er... yes I'm another one who thinks Kim Sa-hyun is kinda hot. But frankly I'd be a bit irritated if he turns out to be related to any of the cases. Unlike Mr Yoon, who was established as a fairly important supporting character quite a while before the reveal, Sa-hyun has had much less screen time and far fewer interactions with the main characters. Unless there's going to be absolute Stacks of Sa-hyun in the next couple of eps, I might find it a bit hard to accept him as a baddie.

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well, sa-hyun IS a self-proclaimed flower boy (or he was, once upon a time), so he kinda knows it too....

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Whenever I start liking a secondary character in this show, I remind myself that the show characterizing them as likeable could just be for the purpose of gutting me when they're revealed to be the culprit à la Mr. Yoon

But then again, I doubt (hope) the culprit will be truly despicable, because this show gives good motives to its villains and know how to still humanize their plight.

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We don’t know what SM saw in KSH’s office that triggered his suspicion. The office in charge of the fake’s witness’s case was where prosecutor Ryu and KSH used to work.
So far, there are three smokers: CB, WTH and KSH. CB and WTH definitely meet often and share more information than what they shown us. What puzzles me is why the kidnapper left the green lighter together with other things on the floor?

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The scissors near DJ may be significant. I'm expecting that he will somehow use them to escape. I'm in denial about any other possibility.

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So woof, there is a lot to take in. For me the biggest mystery isn't the vacation house or the council, it is Don Jae. So although it has been placed on the backburner in the show, it is foremost in my mind. I think when we know what happens to him it will make everything clear. I believe as suggested in a theory by other beanies that all the things happening are not connected to each other and are part of the petty corruptions of the justice system.

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Twins think alike!
I wrote my comment before reading yours and the theory of nothing really big being “the crime”.

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Can we just have more episodes like this?! I always thought of Forest as more of a character driven show, and I feel like sometimes we're foregoing chemistry in favor of adding to the plot.

Also, it's crazy to think that there's only two weeks left until the finale. If Netflix is aiming for a season 3, I'm curious if they'll end the season on a cliffhanger.

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"If Netflix is aiming for a season 3"

OMG, please do not let this be an off-the-cuff tease. Because there does not seem to be a shortage of demand for any of the critical players (especially Bae Doo-Na), I was not remotely wondering about a three-quel. Puh-leeze let there be a third installment, and let's have a road trip way down south with Shi-Mok, Yeo-Jin and Dong-Jae (if he is still around.)

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The writer is clearly showcasing her ability to write tight scripts with a clear vision over even "small" cases. And that's what's most impressive to me - the writer doesn't have to rely on a Lee Chang-jun-esque level of drama/conspiracy to keep us engaged, which I think bears well for a multiple season format.

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truly. she's created a whole overarching world. if it was seasonal it would be able to do so and that's a very interesting mode of working considering kdrama format

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I've said this a few times already elsewhere. This was THE BEST single episode in a drama (any drama, any genre) that I have watched in a long long time.

It was so tight, had all the elements, the right amount of tension, humour, sentimentality, (the PPL is a minus), it was perfect scriptwriting and brilliantly executed.

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i didnt even NOTICE the ppl omg when!!

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argh! so much PPL - way more in your face than S1 (which I didn't notice haha). There's a PPL discussion a few comments above in this thread.

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Ordinarily I wouldn't have expected a third season but since Netflix is involved, you never know. Especially since they approved a third season for Kingdom. Although, I think that show has a higher viewer rating as well?

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Can I say that that scene in the stairwell was fantastic? From the anguish of ShiMok an his pain, to YeoJin's concern, to his recovery and her anxiety, to that final smile and YeoJin laughter. I loved how it made me change from being worried abut ShiMok to melting when the old camaraderie came back in the form of that back slap!

I like you mentioned the fact that ShiMok hadn't connected his attacks to stress. Well, let me tell you: that is so normal!. As someone who suffers migraines, I always dismiss that a crisis is related to stress. Every. Single. Time. Just because I also have crisis when I'm not stressed, like when I'm on vacation. As if stress is only related to work. People suffering from any chronic disease will just accept the pain and not relate to anything that actually happens in their lives as related to that pain / crisis / attack. I guess it's a way of dealing with it. At least it is to me. And so it seems, to ShiMok.

I talked last week about how much I have changed the way I thought about SaHyun. Last week I said I didn't dislike him, and this week I'm really liking him. He's a spoiled privileged man who's always had things "easy". I mean: he was a good student, but he grew up in the environment to go to an elite Law School that would make his future easier. He surely work hard in college to get the highest ranks, but also, he probably didn't have to work as studying and had the money to pay private tutorials. He earned his place as a prosecutor by passing the exam, but he probably got the best teacher money could pay. He's climbed up in the Prosecution because of his hard work... and also because of his connections. Everything in him shouts privilege. But he's not fool. He knows it. And he acknowledges both hard work and talent in ShiMok and something very grey turning black in TaeHa in this case.

Because TaeHa and Choi Bit are being totally opaque on this one. I may trust a bit more Choi Bit than WTH, but everything seems to point they did something not totally right.

Now, I have the feeling that all this Hanjo secret will turn out to be something shady but not so significant in terms of an actual crime. Why do I have this One, two, three</b) vibes? Like everything is a big Macguffin?

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some thoughts on the ShiMok and YeoJin:
In the opening where they are sitting and drinking, he holds the bottom of the teapot she is pouring from; and later she notices he is running out of food and calls for more.

In the stairwell, she removes him to a place that is low stimulus. Not only do we get a smile between them but after ShiMok drinks, she takes it and drinks from the same can. I can't imagine doing that with someone you don't feel super close to.

In the car he makes sure she knows he doesn't blame ALL police.

This is the comradeship I was expecting when FOS2 started but instead it's taken this long to get there which is rather disappointing.

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addition : Yeojin poured a tiny amount of Makgeolli on Shimok's bowl cup and poured full amount on hers.

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I find Shimok overacted this episode! :P The way he helped Yeo-jin to hold a tiny pot of wine. And he got annoyed with her slap...But I like drama queen Shimok. More please :)

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Yes to ShiMok drama queen 😂😂😂😂

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Overacted? Heh I didn't even notice he was annoyed. In fact, when YJ said he was, I was nodding and thinking "of course she'd see it, she understands him better than anyone else".

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Sa-hyun has grown on me too. He seems to have caught on the fact that there's something about how the world works that Shi-mok doesn't fully process. I think he attributes it to some sort of youthful innocence or something. But he's gone on to treat Shimok like a competent but idealistic, innocent hoobae and has taken it upon himself to explain the workings of office politics to him. I like that he's taken him under the wing, but I still don't trust him entirely.

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Nope. can't trust nobody here.

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Call me a psycho but I've been replaying the stairwell scene 10 times a day.

About Choi Bit, everytime she seems shady, I always reminded that Yeojin seems to like her much and she must've reasons for that. She's worked under her for two years. So I always cleared Bit up from suspicion and dump all the bad to Taeha. Is that too naive?

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This writer is the master of characterisation.
Take KSH and the ex judge Oh for examples, with little screen time they appeared with no information about their family or background, we could almost tell many things about their life and personality.
Hye-Jin said every time she received a script for a new episode, she was surprised by little revelation and additional layer of her character Choi-bit. One of the reasons she accepted her role was because of the well-developed character.

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Well, I can now stay awake while watching this drama. Why did they wait so long to abduct Dong Jae? That incident finally made the story really interesting.

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I never dislike Sa-Hyun because if he was condescending, he always wanted to protect the prosecution rights. He doesn't want to be the one who lost them. But as a prosecutor, he looks professionnal.

I don't understand why there isn't a third neutral party in their discussions, someone who can lead them, giving time to speak, etc. A mediator would be so useful... They could come to an arrangement.

For the investigation, I'm like Shi-Mok I can't see which detail is relevant or not...

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I think in the end, they're aiming to keep the status quo and really don't want to get anything done. They do want to show the public that they've tried to do something. I don't think each side can gain anything without giving something up and vice versa and no one wants to give anything up.

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So the question I ended up posing in last week's comment section I'll pose here again: What if there's no big overarching conspiracy here to uncover? What if it's all just petty little acts by self-interested individuals and when it all comes together, the picture will be of nothing?

I said in my blog post that the cut restriction line and the drowning showcased how the system as a whole responded to the incident. It was as much (if not more) about how everyone responded to it rather than the incident itself (although if they revealed there was more to that I'd believe that to). I've also compared the way the show canvasses everyone's behaviour to an intricate game, whereby one move (like a crime) sparks off a set of responding moves from all the parties involved and all those moves are constrained by the rules of the game. Like a dance where everyone is following the rules of the dance but also navigating a dance floor of others.

At the end of the day maybe all these cases won't connect into some big picture of corruption or conspiracy but simply showcase the system in all its flaws, one that is ultimately made up of people.

I mean, Dong-jae was still kidnapped. That happened for sure. But what if everything else is just a mirage?

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At the end of the day maybe all these cases won't connect into some big picture of corruption or conspiracy but simply showcase the system in all its flaws, one that is ultimately made up of people.

This!
This is exactly the whole point this season. Though I'm still holding out that some of the cases are connected. But even if that's not the case, I trust that this show will tie it all nicely together to illustrate its point of how people use the system for their own gains (we could get into the matter of whether the system wasn't designed to always benefit the elite anyways).

For example I found it very striking when it turned out that the Segok officers took bribes to save a life, and the opportunity that the writer took yet again criticize a system that allows life to get to such a point.
Although I found the bit about not releasing the suicide note a little sketchy. Which still makes me doubt the authenticity of the officers' version of events, so I'm still waiting for conclusive evidence on that front.

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if it turns out it was bc of the kid that would also amplify ur point. i didnt think abt it until u mentioned it last week but tbh...probably lol. it's just like sometimes bad things happen and there's a reason but all the reason simply do not have to connect (though the source of the problem is one like u said! :) )

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I think it will go down that path. I'm reasonably convinced it is the kid.

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Shimok and Ye Jin scenes ..YAYY !!
This little Shimok and Ye Jin scenes speaks volumes of their friendship. When Shimok started getting his pains , Ye Jin looked worried and I was really hoping that she run after him and i thought she didnt which really saddened but she DID. I think although Shimok doesn't know it himself but Ye Jin is really precious to Shimok , she is the only one besides his parents who knows about his condition and she is only one who can actually genuinely make him smile. Ye Jin might be the only person Shimok considers a friend and he trusts her but sadly Ye Jin in this season seems to having some trust issues and I think it started from season 1 when her superiors turned out be really bad which shook her foundation and then something happened which made her leave field work. I think they will address it. And due to this Chief Choi, she put a guard on for Shimok as well but its breaking down which is gonna be cause for all the pain to the corrupted ones. Because one thing that makes the powerful and corrupted people scared is the presnce of righteous and intelligent people in a corrupted system coz in a corrupted system everyone is corrupted so they won't stand up for injustice as they are guilty as well but the righteous people are not scared because they know they haven't done anything wrong and they cant be stopped.
So as Shimok and Ye Jin gets more closer and starts working together , chief tae ha, chief choi, hanjo and other baddies will start to get morried.

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I love how even though Yeo-jin and Shi-mok had known each other for about 3 years, they feel like they've been friends and next door neighbors since kindergarten.

I thought Yeo-jin stepped out of field work almost by accident. After her work on the Season 1 task force and on what must have been the biggest case in years to rock to the prosecution (in season 1, both police and prosecutors were bad, but the corruption in the prosecution got the public attention), she probably caught the attention of the police in the national agency and they promoted her to that office. She's on a team that looks at reforming investigative procedure. With her former collaboration with prosecutors, it made sense to assign her there. She probably took on the job that was offered because it seemed like a natural next step and she thought she could do something with that position. She has become disaffected. It seems like she's Choi Bit's assistant a lot. And the prosecution doesn't want to work on the reform, so what meaning does her work hold?

I think it's funny how Tae Ha and Choi Bit are side-eying about how close Shi-mok and Yeo-jin are and how they share everything when Tae Ha and Choi Bit are the ones who are strangely close.

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Personally, I think the time our duo has spent apart paid off & made all their interactions in this episode so much more satisfying, especially that stairwell scene. It was so wholesome, so full of warmth and gratitude. 😭💖
I mean they're wonderful as a pair, but they also exist as individuals and I don't find it necessary for them to always be together. Plus I feel like the fact that we're watching this on a weekly basis as it airs makes their "separation" feel longer than it actually is. But I also believe it's meant to create anxiety within us as the audience to mirror their feelings, and engage more in the content. Their camaraderie really complements this show, but it's not what this show is about.

About the case, I'm starting to think that there's nothing mysterious about Park Gwangsu's death. I think he might have died because of his illness, but the shadiness comes from other parties who want to conceal wtf he was doing in Namyangju (which I think he frequented often), because it will reveal their own dirty work. But I'm at a loss of how this connects to SDJ's disappearance.

PS: I find it really funny and adorable that Shimok likes cabbage? 😂The way he was munching on it 🥰

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FACTS - replying super quick cos i have a meeting but facts!!

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The Yeojin and Shimok interactions in this episode give me life! The smile, the sharing of drinks, the wide-eyed look of utter betrayal on Shimok's face when Yeojin hits him...

Is the show dropping crumbs of hints that those two might deviate away from the Police-Prosecutor jobs? The focus on the empty chairs felt a little damning. This episode was pretty good about building the previously noted parallels during the Taeha and Choi Bit scenes, specifically, how these two appear to have a close understanding but willingly actively work against each other whereas Yeojin and Shimok are still able to see the broader perspective but risk losing themselves to the "dark side"

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"Is the show dropping crumbs of hints that those two might deviate away from the Police-Prosecutor jobs?"

OMG I thought the exact same thing! And it's nice how you connect that to the empty chairs! 😭
I asked myself the same question, because Shimok and Yeojin are so world-weary this season, and their skepticism and decreased optimism is something the show has been highlighting all season. The role these two are going to be playing at the end of this season is something I'm really anticipating. Even if they're still in their institutions, I'm curious to see how the current events will have shaped them in how to move forward. The show has definitely posed the question, and I'm awaiting the answer eagerly.

Also, I'm increasingly worried about Yeojin. Shimok has been having his attacks, and I fear that Yeojin's attacks is the lack of her drawings. Plus, last season her boss turned out to be a disgusting corrupt officer, and this season it looks like Choi Bit isn't exactly clean either. She's already clashed with Choi Bit and I don't think she idolizes her, but she respects her and has expectations of her. I think she'll take it hard once whatever CB is involved in comes to light, and I wonder whether she'll face a dilemma of how to justify staying in the police to herself. She's already kind of doubting how she fits into it & Shimok isn't letting her live it down, what with his not-so-subtle remarks.

But I don't quite see them leaving their jobs altogether. That would be quite revolutionary in terms of what this show would be saying, and I don't see it crossing that boundary.
I do think they both need a freaking vacation at the beach though (preferably together).

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I think there are many levels to the Choi-Woo relationship. The simplest and most ideal is the natural, professional police-prosecutor relationship, wherein they work together to maintain law and order. But with the system eating itself, their official relationship has turned adversarial, with each side trying to discredit the other in their struggle for investigative rights. These adversarial roles and the corruption in the system appear to have led to yet another level in their relationship, the sneaky cooperation on stuff that cannot see light of day, e.g. the Park Gwang-soo case. Finally, I think there's a more personal level, to do with how they feel about each other as individuals. For me, one of the big questions of the show is how Choi and Woo reconcile all these levels in their relationship.

Because Yeo-jin and Shi-mok are younger, different and perhaps luckier people, and what's more they're lower in the hierarchy, their relationship is much simpler than Choi and Woo's. But after all the trials of season 2, I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to quit or at least settle for roles that are less exalted but also less compromised. E.g. YJ might return to Yongsan and SM might go to another area in deepest rural South Korea.

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do you think they are true adversaries? from the beginning i see their relationship as kind of like lcj and chief kim but with less of the need to absolutely abandon the other (i mean for several reasons as that was lcj's plan anyways) like they weren't actually enemies though there was the pride of each side. they knew each other forever. lcj was like aight imma let you finish but time to fuck you over before i end my life lol. with chief kim's destruction lcj's was absolutely inevitable so choi bit and woo tae ha must protect each other. but i think the consulting each other from the beginning does mean something i mean i swear they just constructed this whole thing and i don't exactly know what their rship is but i think the willingness to rub their progress in each other's faces reflects less of a combative rship (also when they were talking about the council it's so funny they were talking about each other with such definitiveness esp when choi bit is like "cos he thinks nothing gets done without him")

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I felt like they once had a totally congenial working relationship, maybe were even friends but their individual ambition got in the way. Or maybe the police-prosecution talks are their way to distract everyone else while something shady goes on in the back...

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your last sentence is what i am thinking!!!!!! it's suspicious!!!

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Actually I'm even more positive about the Choi/Woo relationship than you are. As I mentioned, I think they are adversarial only in the official context of the council, i.e. only because they've been given the job of fighting on the behalf of their respective organisations (for 'the pride of each side', to put it in your words). And as Woo pointed out, they're the kind of people who'll give 100% no matter whom they're up against, hence their dirty media tricks etc.

But outside the council, I believe their connection is as strong and deep as YJ/SM's. Maybe they'll prove me wrong later by betraying one another, because their connection is being twisted by the necessity to be co-conspirators in this Park Gwang-soo business. But like you say, I think they know each other very well and are possibly very loyal to each other too.

Maybe I'm being too optimistic and sentimental, but their meeting in this ep seems even more telling than their first one. Woo really seemed concerned about Choi, not just regarding the Segok fiasco but also about Oh Joo-seon. I think his intentions behind the coffee and the cup are pure. And I found it kind of sweet that he tried to cheer her up with a little joke about SM/YJ (i.e. that the younger pair will nag them about authority issues).

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my big dream is that they fuckin quit tbh i would love it

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They've both seemed lik they're on the edge of burnout for a while now, although Shi-mok in particular won't realise he's there until he literally collapses and wakes up in a hospital. But the fact that the system essentially sieves out its ethical hardworking middle managers is a problem in every system. You either scrabble to get promoted or you stay on as a corrupt bottom feeder. But the truly ethical, the truly committed, the ones who believe in what they're doing and work hard to do it well eventually burn out.

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better 2 burn out then fade away <3

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on a real note every realization ends with whistleblowing or quitting / giving up and going your own way. there's no ending for anyone that sees the truth and doesn't want to die from guilt. i was reading about project manhattan and honestly.....i would HATE myself. the only thing you can do is end your participation or be a sheep (LOL)

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And the tough thing is that oftentimes you can't realize the full magnitude of your actions until looking at it retrospectively

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very true. this is why lee chang jun fascinates me because the factors that made him realize weren't super external. for a lot of people it's if they lose loved ones or realize the impact is so gigantic. sad lol

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tho ik the fraud was a big thing but idk when it started~ but yea u got it in one!

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lmao ok lemme come in with a probably non preferable opinion. seo dong jae can stay missing and it makes good tv for me. not because i don't want to see LJH—him being there would absolutely be a bonus but they introduce his kidnapping almost mid-story and they are in the dark still. it was a surprise to do that in the first place because of the placement of the kidnapping and on top of that the lack of answers amplifies our need to know and our impatience.

but not having an answer keeps us on the hook and keeps us wondering. and there's pretty much no expectation that he will be found...at least how i see it with the finding of the rotten food and taking care of that dude's mom(? grandma?) i wasn't expecting that bc it would be anticlimactic to expect it. but each situation was gross or strange and both signified neglect and decay.

so, for me, i love that he hasn't been found and they mimic the frustration (and/or amplify it) with pushing it to the side because he's useless in terms of time and his absence is fortuitous.

they know the meetings don't do shit which is why they schedule them when they do. they both asked why they set these up and i think there's been Hints about how choi bit and woo tae ha straight up just decided to do it (we don't know why they were so focused on the intelligence chief, right?)

on the outside is pride, that's for sure, but i believe there's honestly no point to the talks. not only in a theoretical way. they don't give a shit about human rights and prioritize their emotions first. they use the meetings to obfuscate and almost buy time. one—they don't give a fuck, really, and two they aren't interested in a conclusion or resolution because there is none because NOTHING is ever enough and neither are willing to give.

what it shows us is that they are two sides of the same coin. in-fighting is hilarious because it just lets you know that power must be absolute and people destroy each other to get it when they're virtually the same. and think about it: assemblymen that were once prosecutors or the police—so many end up in the same exact position so how can they not have the same goals. it's about who gets where first and who can do the legwork.

last season we know that the prosecution and police though at odds re: embarrassment and pride were "FRIENDS" and had the same sponsor. i mean honestly, the loyalty lies in their survival and quest for power only. it's not too hard to question.

sa-hyun is hot. idk how i feel abt him and there is sth #SUS i swear (to myself) but he cute. older but croot.

this season is sort of a downer i guess? but i don't find it any sadder than last time. i mean their jobs suck and almost everyone around them is an idiot and/or a liar. or the "good" ones have to suffer to support them too. but it still has that dry humor and charm.

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oh and in the moment when gun says what he does i think he voices his displeasure over being used. there's the shift of blame and noticing how things fall on han yeo jin particularly. because it's all just superficial bullshit. he was hired bc of his select qualities and she is there for hers but still no one looks out for them. i get why field officers are closer (still, gross) like they are for use and disposal which brings us to... bodies and labor

so their constant us leads them to the conclusion that they all do bad shit bc their working conditions suck but a) that's work bc work is stupid and b) you can't decide to break your own rules you're employed to enforce by a job that you chose. you can't realize work sucks like everyone else so you want to make your life better but be used to control others. you gain bits of power when you become an agent of the state but you're still mistreated. well, gee, imagine that. but that's your problem.

along with society and womanhood class will always have to be brought into the fold. the distinction between the "top" and "bottom" but that isnt differentiated by prosecutor or cop exactly...

it's not about their hard work and suffering for the public rather believing you are owed something other people don't have to be happy and inflicting harm or evading things we can't makes them able to obtain "things" and gain "advancement." isn't that justification enough? (no)

funnily enough that SDJ investigates these people over bribery and subsequent bullying like HIM of all people (famously loves bribery.) funny that chief's own "people" locked him up and he was innocent for that supposed crime yet he feels stung, doesn't he? so while health insurance is trash and i possibly could let it go (or usually i would if they weren't fucking law enforcement) they are all hypocrites and liars (surprise.)

i feel nothing about their pain when this is the pain we all have to go through yet no one fights their damndest for their citizens like they do for themselves. there's a false equivalence here between the idea of compensation and their labor opposite to regular people. but to give power to others you need to lose some and no one is willing to do that so self-interest and the cycle continues. ironically all these people benefit from the shit system and disgusting conditions but feel as if they are so different, in such different classes of people. maybe, perhaps, none of it is prestigious or as good as it seems and it's just a fucking shit job and people who are encouraged to do shit things.

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I'm not sure if that short cut-to scene of Dong-jae's unconscious body means he's still alive or if this was a just a clip that shows he was still alive at some point. Feel like I can't trust it. I have trouble buying that he can live that long being injured and living on a bottle of water a day.

When Yeo-jin pointed out that Shi-mok got his headache because he was stressed about how long the council meeting was taking and he wanted to follow up on Dong-jae's case...it was such an "awww" moment. I love how he does worry about Dong-jae.

I also liked how Yeo-jin commented in the car how funny it was that not a short while ago, they were arguing at the council meeting. That broke that tension over the investigative rights issue that had been looming over them.

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One thing I wanted to say about this episode too and I said this in the DoF review but I think it bears repeating. And it's about how this writer is just SO DAMN GOOD because when they suddenly cut to the meeting and everyone started arguing about the roles of the police and prosecution I got actual whiplash. The whole thing was so surreal. Like - why are we here? What is happening? Why are we arguing about procedural issues when we're supposed to be investigating SDJ's disappearance? Seriously, Writernim, what are you thinking? This is comparatively unimportant when a man's life is on the line.

But then when HSM's brain basically broke from the same feeling of dislocation I realised she'd done it again. Not just her but the PD and Director as well of course. They've put us in HSM's head space, they've made us feel what he feels. We had those same feelings of frustration and agitation that he had and so when he broke down we felt it too. She is seriously one of the best writers I've ever seen.

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Whiplash is the best word for it! SDJ's absence is so overwhelming. And we get lulled into the procedural debates along with the characters, and then suddenly, we are jolted into remembering what's really happening. Using SDJ's absence as a device to tell the larger story is so clever. And it's a mirror, isn't it? How easily and quickly we lose focus on what's really important.

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I was feeling so anxious with everyone going back and forth AGAIN during the meeting! Which as you said mirrored Shimok's feelings. He was even a little shifty prior to his attack. Then his attack happened, which was the climax, but then need he and subsquently us released all the tension with the tone shifting to lightheartedness in the stairwell!

Truly felt like I could breathe again. And what we were watching was Shimok LITERALLY being able to breathe again. Writenim is a genius, we could praise her for days!

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Exactly! The writer is amazing at making the audience feel the same things our characters do and in doing so give a little insight into their thinking. I understand that some people feel this season is exhausting but that's the point!

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the power of editing too!!!!! the crew is fantastic they execute it the way it really should. there's some scenes we will never forget. the power of Art

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I have been saying this since the start - the editing of this season has been bloody brilliant. It is so so SO good!

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I love that little scene with Shimok and Yeojin in the stairwell. Their friendship is standing strong amidst the chaos of the coucil and animosity between their respective departments. More scenes between them please.

Its highly surprising that DongJae is being held captive but the kidnapper is not making any demands. Maybe whoever that person is, he/she just wants him out of the way for the time being. Hopefully they will not harm him any more that they have already done so.

Hanjo is now actively in the scenes. I do call them bluff. One of them must know why Lawyer Park had to die. If not, then someone else is in the game possibly. Someone out to ruin one or all of them.

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I like how the show is so self-aware. This came through in two sentences.

1. Det. Jang's perfectly on point comment about the National Assembly-like debate. It is a meta-observation on what actually happens IRL. This line was the punchline of this episode, IMO.

2. Close on its heels was HSM's telling observation of HYJ "not being like this before" - everyone has "grown up", no one is guilty of naivety anymore, and the weariness of reality has finally hit home.

But from a story POV, so many new clues, which had me - argh - tearing my hair out. The Kang connection with Kwang-soo; the mysterious docs on Sa-hyun's shelf which caught HSM's eye; Yeon-Jae and the vacation home. I need that white board and a few maps and diagrams. My head is spinning....

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We also have characters expressing their frustration "it feels so long ago" "why no progress on the case" "council was dragging on" etc...They are fully aware of how we would feel because they put us there, in the character's situation.

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AND IT'S GREAT

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he said what i hope people realize. they are all going to the same place and they are all arguing just to argue. which puts a point on the "grown up" part and sth i notice twofold

they're fucking childish is what they are and they want to seep happiness from others to maintain things or get them and SDJ was one of the most childish characters and in a way still was but then you have the case of the kid. a bunch of adults condemning young people to do the right thing and not almost kill someone when they can't even get their act together. if it does indeed have to do with some sort of delinquency there's a mirror——growing up, cycle of bullying, not growing out of your fucking bullshit, and constantly having people to get you out of your problems or you finding ways to evade so you don't have to face any potential consequences.

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Yes!!! There is so much mirroring in this season - in different ways - and it's all basically coming back AT US, as viewers and real people leading real lives, asking us to ask questions of ourselves of why we do the things we do, and why we make the choices we make.

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The writer hopes this is an opportunity for us to reflect and think "what is the better world"
In season 1 when LCJ gave a toast to SM, he said "for a better world"

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I want to know who Secretary Park is working for.

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I have a feeling he carries a personal vengeance, but to who? His conversation with LYJ was interesting, the way they observed each other when talking about PGS. She is still suspicious of him. I don’t think she asked Dir Park to record her meeting with CB and WTH.

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THE DAD ??? MAYBE

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Kinda forgot about him, tbh
Or the brother

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This season feels frustratingly good, because if it was any drama, we (the audience and not necessarily the main characters) would know by now who's the culprit of each case. But noooo, the audience together with Shi-mok and Yeo-jin navigates around these cases. Which attest to how great the writing and PD are in making this a possibility.

THE SMILE! That smile was what got me to watch the 1st season after seeing it on the fan wall. It finally came TT__TT and the smack, his angry face, YJ's smile, every second of that stairwell scene was breathing space.

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Now we just need to see him cry. XD

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Crying SM? Nooooooo xD

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you know, i was thinking of s1 and we knew the whole time technically who did it it's just that they took us on a fuckin whirlwind so when we got to that very same conclusion which made sense it was like woah. in the same way they are letting us know that all these people suck but we are trying to figure out what the end goal is. but we definitely know they aren't right in itself. we are being jerked around the same way they are. so we see through the eyes of them as reliable narrators (would that be right?)

when he joked with her at the end "i can't breathe" or sth like. that was so them IRL (csw and bdn) but also hsm/hyj. ah man :')

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Yes, we're definitely on the same page with SM&YJ.

True, whenever SM/YJ joke around or like the staircase scene, there are instances we see CSW/BDN. Such great partnership chemistry.

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Can I just comment that both Cho Seung Woo and Bae Doona looked older and more tired in this season. :D I don't know if it's the haircut, or if it is purposely done to show how after working for a couple of years in a world full of corrupted people has caused them to age prematurely and burn out? LOL Don't get me wrong, I'm not nitpicking their looks, I just find that interesting and sort of amusing.

Also: in one of the promotion interviews Cho Seung Woo said that viewers should look forward to see how after three years the characters have aged and Bae Doona told him off XD ("Don't tell them to look forward to that!")

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I think the aging was intentional to make them appear less idealistic and more worn down by the system this season.

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Actually, if I think about it, the lighting this season is also dimmer and gloomier compared to the previous season, impacting the overall tone

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True. They used a lot of white light compared to last season where they used a lot of yellow tone.

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definitely! you can see all their fine lines and stuff which are real in itself. we kind of go through life in our own idea of like glamor and not noticing so i think what was already there is just amplified and since we usually see them in a softer light (like they all look less drab in the new netflix q+a) it's like "WOAH"

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they also...did age lol i mean yes burn out but also living comes with age. i would say sth abt acting too bc it does take a toll on you but the makeup helps them look tired and the camera is certainly sharp intentionally but people age. the different between your mid 30s and early 40s is big!

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It's really hard for you to mess up as badly as "hey we met once! At your beloved, extremely powerful husband's funeral after his untimely suicide to indict corruption in the entire prosecution" and not expect to have a car dropped on you after the meeting and your corpse vanishing afterwards :P Second hand in marriage, Yeonjae-sshi ;~;

I liked the progress we made this episode, like a spring that's been tightly compressed finally being released to catalyse a domino effect.

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Okay, so I just had to come back on here, because I feel like I didn't say my all on the stairwell scene and I wanted to add another observation.

You know how Shimok APOLOGIZED to Yeojin for his attack? I hate that he feels like it's something he should apologize for. We can probably easily connect it to his adverse childhood and upbringing, and that he most likely carries some guilt within him because he was literally made to feel like his life wasn't valuable because of his condition. Understandably, this also informs his relationship with his mother and him apologizing is a manifestation of how much damage her actions have done to Shimok.
All things considered, I'm really glad this show didn't use Shimok's past as an opportunity to create a bootstrap narrative!

And with all this in mind, Yeojin's friendship is so much more instrumental. I think she provides Shimok with something crucial that he lacked perhaps all his life, and even needed (not just wanted). And that's validation, companionship, love. A literal pat on the back and laughter.
The enclosed space of the stairwell really symbolized the safe space that Yeojin has offered him.
And just like how Shimok was comforted by her words in s1 when they discussed his surgery, that same gratitude and relief was present in that stairwell.
And I'm also eternally grateful of how their friendship is portrayed, and that YJ isn't presented as the substitute to his mother or the cure to his trauma--which is what so many female characters are reduced to in k-dramas.

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I love these recaps. This is almost the first show we’ve watched that didn’t have something Supernatural about it(W was the BEST) and although it’s riveting, it’s also very confusing.
It’s really hard keeping the names straight, and you and your colleagues do an excellent job of filling in the gaps, showing us things we’ve missed, and helping us keep names with faces.
I have to ask, are you volunteers? Koreans who speak perfect English, or vice versa? Are you paid? I’m just curious. The Dram Beans folks have been the best since Rooftop Prince, which was our first Korean drama. Thanks and thanks again!

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