Inspector Koo: Episode 5
We delve into the killer’s backstory this hour to discover when her life took such a dark turn. Meanwhile, the team scrambles to catch her before she can harm anyone else.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Kyung-yi and Santa race to save Je-hee and Kyung-soo from a watery grave, with only the words “it’s not the ocean” to go on. Putting that together with salt water and rising tides, they call for emergency services to help search. Je-hee and Kyung-soo manage to pry open the container doors, and she pushes him out first so he can surface and get Kyung-yi’s attention. Je-hee is unconscious by the time they fish her out.
They’re transported to the hospital, where Je-hee is sent into surgery for a neck injury. Kyung-yi bombards Kyung-soo with questions about their capture. He asks if this is really the time, but she says it’s their one connection and possibly only chance to catch K. He racks his brain, but all he can remember is losing consciousness in the car and coming to inside a wooden box in the container.
He doubles over in a coughing fit, and Kyung-yi and Santa start in alarm to see his back covered scrapes and bruises. Kyung-yi surmises the culprit could have parked their car next to a dropoff and pushed them over the edge so they fell into the box. From there, it would have been simple enough to haul the box over to the container with an ATV.
Kyung-yi and Santa visit a nearby ATV rental to view the security cameras. As they do, the owner notices one hasn’t been returned yet, and Kyung-yi recognizes a gesture made by the person who rented that ATV. Of course, the ATV was abandoned in a location without cameras, but the janitor is able to tell them that the person went to the bathroom next door before leaving. Kyung-yi immediately starts rummaging through the trash, then runs over to interrogate a group of elderly bystanders.
They were here yesterday too, and saw a young woman come out of the men’s restroom before being arrested for carrying drugs. Kyung-yi shows them a picture of Kyung to identify (though she accidentally displays a picture of Santa first, confusing them even more). Meanwhile, Santa finds a bag inside the trash that makes him yell in fright – it looks like a human head, but it’s actually a wig, hat, and glasses. Kyung’s disguise. Kyung-yi realizes that Kyung deliberately approached her from the beginning – and that Kyung had been following her own advice on getting away with murder.
Geon-wook visits Kyung at the police station. He tells her she should have listened to him instead of being reckless, and to reflect on what she’s done, and leaves her there. She sighs that he’s the one being reckless right now.
Kyung-soo checks on Je-hee, who’s in a private hospital room but still unconscious. Her father is there, too, and Kyung-soo assures him she did nothing wrong, and was in fact chasing down a criminal. Kyung-yi calls just then, needing all the information Kyung-soo can find on Kyung ASAP, particularly if she lived in Seattle and any major incidents that happened there.
Kyung tearfully undergoes questioning, naming her aunt as her primary contact. When the officer asks if her parents both passed away, her face goes suddenly dark. A flashback shows her as a little girl in the car with her parents, who are in a heated argument. Her father grabs a gun from the glove box and drags her mother away into the woods, ordering Kyung to stay put. The woods grow dark and creepy, and as a shadowy presence brushes past the car, the door swings open. A gunshot sounds in the distance, and little Kyung goes to investigate.
On her way to the police station, Jung-yeon also can’t stop thinking about the incident. Evidence had indicated Kyung’s father shot her mother and then himself, and after a week of searching, Seattle police were ready to give up on finding Kyung. Jung-yeon had pleaded with them to keep looking, and eventually Kyung was found. Oddly enough, she’d had no injuries and wasn’t even dehydrated. Jung-yeon was convinced her sister (Kyung’s mom) had been looking after her from beyond the grave.
Kyung’s therapist wasn’t so ready to dismiss Kyung’s odd behavior, like scribbling in black ink over her father’s face in photos. Or an incident with a lighter that happened at a neighbor’s house. Said neighbor had killed and eaten another man’s pet dog(!), and little Kyung had watched the heartbroken man with interest as her aunt explained the neighbor had done something awful to him. Her therapist had asked her what emotions she felt when people did bad things, and Kyung had said “It’s dark” – but she wasn’t answering the question. She was pointing out the window, where that same shadowy figure was floating towards her.
By the time Kyung-yi arrives at the police station, Jung-yeon has already picked up Kyung and dropped her off at home. But instead of going inside, Kyung waits until Jung-yeon drives away and heads off in the opposite direction. Geon-wook watches from (hacked) security cameras, wondering where she’s going. He snarls as he notices Kyung-yi and Santa exiting the police station.
Kyung-soo finds photo evidence that Kyung was at the festival where Gyu-il died, and Kyung-yi murmurs that Kyung was at the high school when the janitor was poisoned, too. We flash back to the hospital just following the poisoning. After Kyung-yi leaves, Geon-wook – the janitor’s son – arrives, crying that his father is only burdening his mother with hospital bills. He wraps his hands around his father’s throat, but can’t bring himself to actually kill him. Kyung steps out from behind the window curtain, offering to do it for him. With Geon-wook’s permission, she turns off the ventilator and suffocates the janitor with her gloved hand.
Now viewing her as his savior, Geon-wook later finds her school and follows her. She plays dumb until he starts to question himself, then laughs at him for falling for it. He falls to his knees, promising to whatever necessary to help her. Kyung tells him he can never take that promise back.
Back in the present, Geon-wook finds Kyung and warns her that Kyung-yi suspects her. He says they’ve got to be careful or they’ll end up in jail and her aunt will find out everything. But she realizes he’s more worried about himself – he doesn’t want his boyfriend to find out about his crimes.
She seizes the dog tag his boyfriend gave him and starts choking him with it, accusing him of wanting to be rid of her so he can date freely. But the chain snaps, saving him, and she sighs in disappointment and tells him not to underestimate her again.
Jung-yeon calls Kyung’s therapist to ask if Kyung could be lying to them, but takes it back, wanting to believe she’s overthinking it.
Kyung-yi, with Santa in tow, pretends to be drunk to get past a security guard at Kyung’s apartment building. The guard isn’t having it, though, and pushes them back out. In the tussle, Santa ends up spinning the guard into a dip and smiles brightly down at him. The guard is so enamored that Santa just gently lowers him to the ground and he and Kyung-yi rush inside. At Kyung’s door, Kyung-yi places clear tape over the keypad to see which numbers are pressed most often. She mutters that Kyung uses the same passcode she does, and unlocks the door.
She checks for traps before entering and, finding none, decides Kyung hasn’t left any weapons there. She examines photos on Kyung’s refrigerator, and Santa asks what exactly they’re looking for. Meanwhile, Jung-yeon arrives at the building, worried because Kyung isn’t answering her phone. Kyung-yi tells Santa they’re looking for things that only they would recognize. To that end, he recognizes Kyung’s perfume from when she walked past him in the car lot, while Kyung-yi recognizes a bottle of painkillers that’s only prescribed for severe injuries like a broken leg. Santa starts wiping the things she’s touched to remove fingerprints, and gets momentarily distracted by a knife.
Noticing the bedside lamp, Kyung-yi wonders what Kyung uses it for, since she doesn’t seem the bookish type. That leads her to discover a box under that side of the bed that contains several of those devil dolls. Just then, the doorbell sounds. Kyung-yi and Santa dive over the bed to hide as Jung-yeon enters the apartment calling for Kyung. Supposing the place to be empty, she starts feverishly pulling things out of the cupboard and tasting them to make sure they’re real. As her frenzy dies down, she hears a sound and finally notices the unfamiliar shoes in the entryway.
Kyung-yi and Santa rush out to stop her from calling security, laying on the charm and offering her a cup of tea. They pretend that Santa is Kyung’s boyfriend, which seems plausible since Jung-yeon saw that picture of him before, and that Kyung-yi was the one who introduced them. Jung-yeon doesn’t quite seem to buy their story about being invited for dinner, so Kyung-yi changes the topic to why Kyung is taking so long to come home. Jung-yeon says she went to meet a friend, and gets defensive when Kyung-yi says Kyung doesn’t have any friends (aside from her and Santa, of course). Kyung-yi smooths things over by remarking on Kyung’s difficult childhood and inviting Jung-yeon to join them for dinner – though she points out that if Kyung didn’t invite her, she might have her reasons.
Thoroughly embarrassed, Jung-yeon decides to leave, thanking Kyung-yi for helping Kyung. Kyung-yi asks if she thinks Kyung went to “that place she likes to go” and clocks the looks Jung-yeon sends towards a particular photo of the two of them wearing life jackets. Jung-yeon’s phone rings, and she steps away to take an urgent international call regarding her mother’s health. She’s overwhelmed by the news, and rushes out the door.
Kyung-yi calls Kyung-soo and tells him to find out if Kyung or Jung-yeon have a private container in their name near the Han River. But he interrupts to say that Je-hee is awake. Kyung-yi goes to see her, and they catch up on the case: Kyung is K, and she’s leaving Korea soon with Jung-yeon. Je-hee says they need to intercept her at the airport, but Kyung-yi leaves it up to her to tell Sook or not. “A leader is supposed to make decisions for a loose cannon like me,” she says. Je-hee murmurs that something must have happened to Kyung-yi while she was unconscious, and asks if Kyung-yi ran out of alcohol. In response, Kyung-yi pulls a scarf out of her bag and tosses it to her, saying Je-hee’s father would be heartbroken to see her neck injuries.
At a Buddhist temple, Sook meets her two sons, and it’s clear they aren’t close. She sends the younger off, and the older, HEO SUNG-TAE (Choi Dae-chul), accompanies her inside to consult a monk about his political rivals. Sook is mainly concerned about a lawyer/CEO who’s known for his integrity. The monk looks thoughtfully at the photo and observes that what people know about this man is only a fraction of who he actually is. They’re interrupted by a ringing phone, and Mr. Kim has to rummage through an entire bag of cell phones to find the right one. He answers the phone saying this had better be important.
Kyung packs to accompany Jung-yeon to visit her grandmother overseas. Meanwhile, Je-hee prepares to leave the hospital, ignoring Kyung-soo’s worries that she isn’t yet at full strength. She ties the scarf Kyung-yi gave her around her neck to hide her bruises while briefing them on Kyung’s flight information.
At the airport, there’s a huge team stationed in various locations throughout, from ticket agents to cleaning staff. Kyung-yi and Santa keep watch from a van (well, Santa keeps watch while Kyung-yi complains that she shouldn’t have to be here). Je-hee takes charge from the security room, but when Sook arrives, everyone bows to her instead. She warns Je-hee that if they can’t catch Kyung here, they may never get another chance. They fill her in on the plan: when Kyung checks in, agents will claim something’s wrong with her ticket and bring her back here as quickly and quietly as possible. Je-hee wants to know what they’ll do then, since there’s not enough evidence to turn Kyung over to the police, but Sook says they can decide once they have her.
Jung-yeon checks in for her flight, but Kyung is nowhere to be seen and her phone is turned off. While whining to Santa that just watching out the window won’t make Kyung magically appear, Kyung-yi spots a girl carrying a tote bag with a boat on it. That gets her thinking, and an advertisement for a Han River water sports park rounds the thought out. She asks Kyung-soo if he looked into the containers, and he confirms that Kyung rented one.
Everyone gets antsy as the time counts down. Suddenly, the team is notified that Kyung’s phone has been turned on and is approaching. By now, Jung-yeon and Kyung are being paged by name to board the flight, but Kyung still isn’t showing, and Je-hee runs out of the security room to look herself. Jung-yeon finally gets a call through to Kyung, and the others listen in via wiretap as Kyung claims she only just woke up and tells Jung-yeon she’ll catch a later flight. We see that the girl Kyung-yi had noticed earlier is holding Kyung’s phone, which directs Kyung’s call to Jung-yeon’s phone. Kyung meanwhile, sits safely in her and Geon-wook’s hideout.
Sook stews in anger. Je-hee covers her face in frustration while a little robot circles her, declaring, “Let me know if you need any help.” The girl drops Kyung’s phone in a trash can on the way to board her own flight.
As they leave the airport, Sook tells Je-hee that playing James Bond was at least fun – but they weren’t here to have fun. When Je-hee promises to keep working on it, Sook grabs her by the neck and says she hates people who can’t deliver on their promises. The sight of a billboard announcing her son’s lead in the polls cheers her up, though, and she relaxes her hold, assuring Je-hee that as long as she learns to manage her team better, she’ll be just fine.
From his remote location, Geon-wook watches the team leave the airport, telling Kyung that she was right: they were there to catch her. Kyung is flattered to hear that around 50 people were involved, but her delight turns to shock as she spots Kyung-yi trying to peer through the windows of her hideout. She quickly ducks out of sight, but can’t resist taking a peek out another window, and comes face-to-face with Kyung-yi.
I don’t know about you all, but for me, Je-hee is one of the most interesting characters, and my heart broke for her as everything fell apart in her hands. She wants so badly to fix everything, and not just for her own gain, either. She clearly cares about her team as people, and is genuinely trying to catch the killer without any more casualties (which is more than we can say for sure of Kyung-yi, though I do think she cares just as much when it comes down to it). And yet, Je-hee is also driven by a desperate need to prove herself as a capable leader in front of people like Sook. She’s both more vulnerable and more tenacious than she looks. The way her eyes hardened as soon as Sook left makes me think she isn’t beaten yet, and doesn’t ever plan to be. And after watching Sook wrap her hands around Je-hee’s (already injured!) neck, I’m no longer just curious to see them face off – I want to see Je-hee take her down.
As for Sook, I really don’t know what she’s after. Does she want the acclaim of helping catch a serial killer? Does she have a personal vendetta against K? Also, assuming all those agents disguised as airport personnel were Sook’s people, she must have strings to pull in all kinds of places, considering they were able to gain access to (and control of) the security room without involving the police.
Santa also continues to be captivating. Most of the time, he seems to be the most innocent person on earth. Yet he definitely has secrets of his own – the most obvious being why he doesn’t speak. But regardless, I love him to pieces, and nobody better even try to hurt him. I love that he cringes each time he catches onto Kyung-yi’s plan and realizes he’s going to have to something not necessarily illegal but definitely questionable… and then does it anyway. If he really had no ulterior motive for joining Kyung-yi, it’s sweet that he trusts her that much from all the time they’ve spent gaming together. Speaking of things I love about Santa, the way he flashes that charming smile to get them past security guards – and it works! – gets me every single time. (Because let’s be real, his smile has that effect on us, too!)
I was both surprised and not surprised to learn that Geon-wook was the son of the janitor at Kyung’s high school. It explains so much about their dynamics. As far as we know, he assisted with her very first murder, which explains why she’s so attached to him. And the fact that it made him indebted to her for life explains why he’s so committed. And it also explains why he thought he was helping her when all along she held all the power. Personally, I find her scariest when she’s gaslighting him so she can laugh at his confusion and fear, and I found it disturbing when Kyung-yi did something similar to Jung-yeon. Sure, Kyung-yi’s motives were better, but she still intentionally made Jung-yeon question her own feelings and instincts.
Finally, I don’t quite know where we’re going with the dementor-esque figure Kyung keeps seeing. It almost hints at a supernatural twist, but it could just be a visual representation of what’s going on inside her head. Personally, I’m hoping for the latter. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love fantasy and supernatural stuff. But this show set up a human killer, and I’d prefer to keep her that way, even if her mind is incredibly dark and twisted. And whether she had some natural inclination towards it or not, I can’t help thinking she must have been impacted by being around so many terrible people in her childhood, not to mention whatever happened in the woods after her parents’ death. Like Je-hee, she wants to fix things. And I find it interesting that she often asks permission from affected people to “take care of” the person who wronged them, even if she doesn’t quite seem to understand why they feel the way they do. It’s enough to her to perceive that injustice has been done and she can do something about it. And that makes me wonder if she can ever come to an understanding of why her actions are also wrong.