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Inspector Koo: Episode 7

Having identified the killer’s next target, our team prepares a sting operation to catch her in the act, hoping to avoid any further casualties in the process. But lines of loyalty are starting to blur, and that’s a dangerous game to play when trusting the wrong person can tip the scales in a deadly direction.

 
EPISODE 7 RECAP

A man sings alone in a dark apartment. OMG it’s Santa, and he’s singing about waiting for someone to notice him while placing candid photos of Kyung-yi in a photo album. Then the camera pans over his workspace to reveal a deconstructed doll exactly like the ones Kyung’s helpers carry. Creepy music plays as he puts some kind of clear liquid from a tiny vial into Kyung-yi’s drink while she sleeps. He smiles widely as she downs it, completely unaware.

Je-hee and Kyung-soo follow Ko Dam’s car as he leaves his office. Just as Kyung-soo is remarking that it would be cliché if a Truck of Doom were to strike Ko Dam’s car right now, a whole fleet of trucks zoom past them, surrounding Ko Dam’s car to escort him to KD Peace Lab.

The team sits across the street from the lab, wondering how Kyung will manage to kill Ko Dam when they can’t even catch a glimpse of him. Kyung-yi muses that nothing short of a war – if even that – would draw him out. Suddenly, a banner drops from the lab’s roof, announcing an upcoming robotics showcase. Kyung-yi breathes, “That’s it! Joan of Arc will march out to war.”

Sook entertains a child in a hospital with a robot while Kyung-yi and Je-hee watch, unamused. Sook sends the robot – and the child – out into the hallway so they can discuss Ko Dam. It’s likely he’ll announce his mayoral campaign at the showcase, and since he’ll be extra visible, it’s a prime time for K to strike. Cancelling the showcase won’t stop her, either; she’ll just wait for her next chance. Sook says pointedly that Kyung-yi seems to know K extremely well, and Je-hee quickly turns the conversation back to Ko Dam. When Sook asks again how they plan to stop K from killing him, Kyung-yi says, “I’ll set the stage for her.”

As they watch a clown perform under a single spotlight, Kyung-yi elaborates that their current position is like performing on a stage: they can’t see K’s attack coming. Instead, they’ll need to predict her next move. That probably still won’t be enough to stop her, but Kyung-yi concludes that a stage performer has one advantage: they know their audience is watching. Whatever her plan is, it involves a hostage.

Mr. Kim receives a bomb in a cardboard box, which detonates in front of KD Peace Lab the following day. No one is hurt, but Ko Dam’s head of security advises postponing the showcase. In response, Ko Dam –already annoyed because of the guard dogs’ constant barking outside – fires him on the spot. When the man begs for forgiveness, Ko Dam beats him over the head with his phone. But he offers him a chance to prove he’s sorry, nodding at a bag of dog food.

Relieved, the security head fills the guard dogs’ dishes, telling himself Ko Dam isn’t so bad after all. But that’s when he gets a notification that KD Peace Lab is suing him for damages. And when he looks back up, the dogs have all dropped dead.

“Children and dogs are better when quiet,” Ko Dam says, approaching with his plastered-on smile. He calmly wraps an arm around the security head and tells him the animal abuse charges won’t tie him up too long, so he’d better keep his head down if he doesn’t want his wife to suffer. Someone runs over to check on the dogs, and Ko Dam changes demeanor instantly. He grabs the security head by the lapel in a show of hysteria.

Kyung disguises herself with a drink cart to survey KD Peace Lab’s new security team. Jung-yeon texts, asking when she’s coming to visit her grandmother, and Kyung assures her it’ll be later this week. When Geon-wook pipes up in her earpiece to comment on it, she realizes he’s monitoring her phone and drops it in front of a mail carrier’s motorbike. She gives the driver a sack filled with electronic equipment. A familiar doll hangs from his keys.

Kyung-soo briefs the team on the list of people who will be allowed inside the showcase. (Santa managed to get an invite after three rounds of interviews, while Kyung-soo failed his first try.) In the midst of talking through the showcase’s program, Kyung-yi suddenly asks Je-hee why she’d said Ko Dam becoming mayor would be a problem. Je-hee defensively says that she meant it would be a pain for Sook, since her son is running against him. Kyung-yi points out that her voice always gets higher in pitch when she’s anxious, so Je-hee puts on an exaggeratedly low voice and tells her to stop being so suspicious.

They resume talking through the plan, using a model of the showcase venue and lego figurines – including one with a picture of Jung-yeon taped over the face. Looks like she’s the hostage, since she’s the only person Kyung would want to protect.

Speaking of Jung-yeon, Mr. Kim has her in a house with blocked windows, much to her frustration. She swears she doesn’t know where Kyung is, but offers to bring her back here to talk if they’ll let her. Mr. Kim says she’s free to go whenever she likes – as long as she agrees to cooperate with them.

Kyung-yi arrives just then, and Jung-yeon angrily accuses her of framing Kyung for the murders. With Mr. Kim’s permission, Kyung-yi takes her outside onto a beach to talk privately. She asks if Jung-yeon knew all along that Kyung was different from other children, but Jung-yeon says that all parents think their child is special. She clings to the fact that there’s no proof, even though the call about her mother’s health turned out to be fake, and she’d flown back here on the team’s suggestion that Kyung-yi had been behind it. Kyung-yi suspects she’s less worried about something happening to Kyung than she is about Kyung doing something.

She flat-out tells Jung-yeon that Kyung has killed people, sending Jung-yeon into a rage. Kyung-yi lets her shake her around, and finally Jung-yeon sinks down in apparent defeat. Kyung-yi says they both want to prevent anyone from getting hurt or killed at tomorrow’s showcase, but Jung-yeon is still determined to believe that nothing will happen. She plans to meet Kyung herself and talk it out, so Kyung-yi will be forced to eat her words and apologize. Kyung-yi doesn’t try to dissuade her. Instead, she tells Jung-yeon to ask Kyung about her suspicions, because she’s the only person Kyung might be honest with.

Je-hee takes her father out for sushi, telling him she’ll make sure he can afford to eat out more often. He guesses that means she’s getting a promotion. Just then, Je-hee spots Mr. Kim at the other end of the bar and tries not to let her unease show.

Ko Dam’s former head of security blows off some steam in a batting cage, right next to Kyung and Geon-wook. He keeps throwing them odd glances, and when he leaves, Geon-wook goes into the cage he was using. Inside the handle of the bat are blueprints to KD Peace Lab.

Later, the two of them watch through security cameras as Kyung-yi and Kyung-soo enter the showcase venue, which is a big, open room inside the lab. They silently crouch down on the floor until the camera Geon-wook and Kyung are watching through cuts out. Geon-wook groans, but Kyung just says it’s cute Kyung-yi thinks that will stop her and puts in earbuds.

Je-hee and Santa join the other two. Kyung-yi says they can talk now, though they should act as though Kyung can still hear them to be safe. Kyung-soo wonders how Kyung plans to re-create Joan of Arc’s burning in here. Kyung-yi tosses the script book at him, saying it contains many different methods of killing people.

Still on edge, Kyung-soo spots a small hole in the wall, and they all run over to investigate. In front of the hole, the floor is littered with tiny brown objects, and Kyung-yi murmurs that she’s heard of bombs this small. Kyung-soo and Santa cower behind Je-hee, who identifies the “bombs” as rat droppings. Still, they seal up the hole – and good thing, too, because that was where Kyung had her bug planted.

Kyung smiles in approval and removes her earbuds, and Geon-wook remarks that she seems to be having more fun playing with Kyung-yi than planning the murder. She nods, demonstrating with an ant that playing with her victim is more fun than just killing them.

They’re interrupted by the doorbell. It’s Dae-ho, and Geon-wook pushes Kyung into the bedroom. But as soon as Dae-ho steps inside, she pokes her head out and introduces herself as Geon-wook’s cousin. Dae-ho replies uncertainly that he’s Geon-wook’s co-worker. They all sit down to eat the food he brought, Geon-wook trying his best to pretend everything is perfectly normal. When Dae-ho goes to get a drink from the fridge, he pauses in concern to see the bottles of alcohol (Geon-wook has told him he doesn’t drink) and other unhealthy food items. Kyung keeps switching from almost menacing to overly bubbly, and Geon-wook nearly loses his temper.

Kyung-yi figures out that while Kyung takes inspiration from her scripts, she doesn’t copy-paste her killing methods from them. As she narrates the main events from Joan of Arc, comic book-style illustrations show us how they relate to the showcase: Angels and falling rocks translate to a florescent light with the cables cut so it will fall on Ko Dam’s head, while rain from heaven becomes the lab’s fire sprinkler system.

The team runs around neutralizing the traps, the next one being an arrow to the leg – here, a metal bolt that flies out of an air duct after Kyung-yi removes the grate. They all dive out of the way just in time, and Je-hee snaps that for someone so suspicious of everyone, Kyung-yi sure is acting reckless.

Though shaken, Kyung-yi narrows her eyes at the gigantic robot Ko Dam will make his announcement from and declares it the last of the traps – and the most suspicious. As they walk over to inspect it, Je-hee gets a call from Mr. Kim. She and Kyung-yi exchange a charged look, and she steps away to answer.

Kyung-yi climbs inside the robot and (literally) sniffs around. She asks for a knife – Santa whips out a large one, making Kyung-soo’s eyes pop – and the two men back away from the robot as Kyung-yi rubs the metal knife against the handrail, making sparks fly. She explains that the rail acts similar to flint, creating sparks when it comes into contact with metal. She remembers Ko Dam always wears a gold ring, and reveals that the robot has been cleaned inside and out with alcohol, meaning the whole thing could indeed be engulfed in flames, just like Joan of Arc.

The showcase arrives. The team watches from their various stations as Ko Dam climbs into the robot, perfectly safe, for now. Outside, Geon-wook knocks out a server and dons their uniform, walking right past Kyung-soo into the showcase room. Kyung, watching through a camera on his glasses, directs him to a dessert cart in the kitchen. He wheels the cart into the main room, only to come face-to-face with Santa. Santa flashes his brilliant smile, and Geon-wook giggles nervously and passes off the cart.

A group of women come onstage to receive flowers, Jung-yeon among them. The spokeswoman announces their support of Ko Dam as mayor, prompting him to confirm his intent to run. He opens up the robot and steps out, and gives a rousing speech about creating a society where there are no more victims. Geon-wook takes out a remote control and starts to leave, but Kyung asks for a second look at the front of the room. They both spot Jung-yeon at the same time, just as a bunch of small robots file out from under the dessert cart. Kyung starts to panic, yelling at Geon-wook to get Jung-yeon out of there.

The guests spot the robots (which are now dancing), oohing and ahhing over how cute they are, while the investigation team tries to figure out what’s going on. Realizing the robots are starting to spark, Kyung-yi tells Je-hee to evacuate the hall.

Geon-wook reaches Jung-yeon and tells her Kyung wants her to leave right now. She asks desperately if Kyung is trying to kill Ko Dam, but before he can respond, Kyung-yi races over to them, and he takes off. Kyung-yi follows, shouting at everyone to get out. The giant robot bursts into flames. At Kyung’s café vantage point, her tablet sits abandoned.

By now, all the robots have caught fire, and the guests are fleeing. Jung-yeon, devastated and confused, spots Ko Dam slipping out a back door and follows him. Santa has been knocked to the floor in the chaos, but Kyung-soo runs inside and helps him escape.

Kyung-yi chases Geon-wook outside and tackles him into a fountain, but he gets up and speeds away on his motorcycle. Breathless, Kyung-yi asks if Je-hee still has eyes on Ko Dam, but Je-hee doesn’t answer.

Ko Dam slows down in the dark hallway. Hearing footsteps, he pulls out a gun and creeps around the corner. It’s Je-hee, and she takes him down with a flying kick and a taser. But then she pulls out her earpiece, ignoring Kyung-yi’s questions, and calls Mr. Kim to tell him she has Ko Dam. That’s when she looks up and sees a terrified Jung-yeon, who thinks they’ve set this whole thing up to kill Ko Dam and frame Kyung for it. Je-hee stammers that she’s got it wrong, and tells Jung-yeon to see for herself that Ko Dam isn’t dead. Instead, Jung-yeon grabs up Ko Dam’s gun and turns it on Je-hee, demanding to know where Kyung is.

Kyung has run all the way here, and frantically searches the crowd for any sign of Jung-yeon. Finding none, she calls Ko Dam’s phone. Jung-yeon answers, both women just as surprised to hear the other’s voice. While telling Jung-yeon to stay put, Kyung steps into the street, freezing as a car speeds toward her. Jung-yeon senses something wrong and rushes out a nearby door. Je-hee and Mr. Kim’s men whisk the still-unconscious Ko Dam away down the hall. At the door, Jung-yeon has stopped short, a metal bolt having passed right through her. Oh no.

As Kyung stands frozen, cars swerve around her. Kyung-yi arrives at the scene just in time to see Jung-yeon collapse, and Kyung isn’t far behind, though she stands watching from afar in shock. She and Kyung-yi lock eyes. Geon-wook pulls up behind Kyung, drags her onto his motorcycle, and drives away.

Je-hee delivers Ko Dam to Mr. Kim, who pulls out his phone so Sook can facetime Ko Dam. When Ko Dam promises to take this secret to his grave, she cheerily agrees to let him. Her men pull out a needle and inject clear liquid between his toes, and Je-hee turns her face away. She watches in horror as they buckle Ko Dam into a car and rig it to drive into a shed. Then Mr. Kim sets the whole thing on fire.

Kyung holds onto Geon-wook numbly. Je-hee watches a news report about Ko Dam’s death, struggling to hold back tears. Kyung-yi stands staring at the burned robot. Images of K’s victims swirl around Kyung, starting and ending with Jung-yeon, as Kyung’s own image glitches and spins upside-down.

 
COMMENTS

I both love and hate that this show, which is all about the importance of trust and finding trustworthy people, is making me doubt my two favorite characters. Like Jung-yeon clinging to her image of Kyung, I’m desperately hoping that there’s a perfectly reasonable and not at all creepy explanation for that intro sequence with Santa. Because it certainly painted him as a stalker – and maybe even connected to Kyung. It would be ironic in a devastating way if the one person Kyung-yi seems to trust without question turned out to have dark intentions for her and potentially others.

Likewise, I’m really hoping that Je-hee is playing a long game with Sook, bowing to her just as she was taught so that she can pull the rug out from under her at the opportune moment. But standing by while Mr. Kim murdered Ko Dam felt like a turning point for Je-hee, and not necessarily a good one. Last episode, when she told Sook that she knows exactly which buttons to push to manipulate her team members, I suspected that might be her way of protecting them – basically saying, “You don’t need to pay attention to them; I’ve got them under control” so Sook would leave them alone. I still hope that’s true, but even if it is, I could see her getting pulled deeper and deeper into Sook’s clutches until she can’t get out, if she even wants to at that point.

I’d love to see more of her and Kyung-yi’s relationship prior to all this, because clearly there’s genuine friendship as well as pain and a little mistrust between them. You know what I’d be thrilled to see? If Je-hee – the one person Kyung-yi thinks might have betrayed her – is the one person who truly comes through for her in the end.

I think Je-hee hit the nail on the head, though, when she called Kyung-yi reckless this episode. The thing is, Kyung-yi claims to suspect everyone and everything around her, but her actions don’t always reflect that, especially when it comes to putting herself or even her team in harm’s way. Jung-yeon’s death wasn’t her fault, but it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t used Jung-yeon as a hostage to mess with Kyung’s emotions.

It’s interesting that every character who insists on only keeping trustworthy people around them tends to use the trust placed in them to manipulate and engineer their own desired outcomes. Ko Dam and Sook do it to attain and keep power; Kyung does it to punish evildoers and avoid punishment for her own wrongs; Kyung-yi does it to get answers. And Jung-yeon is a tragic example of how being manipulated and lied to can destroy a person. Even if some of the manipulation (from Kyung-yi) was “good-intentioned,” it still isolated Jung-yeon from being able to trust literally anyone and placed her in the worst location at the worst time.

As for Kyung, what will this tragic outcome of her own plans do to her? I’m not completely sure if that last little sequence was from her perspective or Kyung-yi’s, but if it was in her head, it seems she’s categorizing Jung-yeon’s death with the other people she’s (intentionally) killed. Will she start to feel guilty? Will she find a way to blame someone else – or even convince herself Jung-yeon somehow deserved it? And most importantly, will it cause her to withdraw or attack with a vengeance?

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The ending of this episode is tragic yet powerful, maybe even more powerful than The Devil Judge just several months ago when we are warned of vigilante justice. We the audience has been mocked, warned, or made fun of vigilante justice this whole year, Inspector Koo may not be the best among them, it is yet worth mentioned in one of the most important theme of this year K-drama, also with Vincenzo and Law School.

It is pretty sad this show doesn't attract audience. In terms of this period of time I don't think it is the best (The King's Affection took the crown already, especially this week), but it worth more attention. Lee Young-ae has done one of her best and breakthrough performances in her career so far, and Kim Hye-jun has outdone her creepiness since her performance in Kingdom series, not to mention other great actors/actresses and great works. Maybe it is because the show's vision and message are way too advance the audience not understanding it?

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Weirdly I think it's actually this show that hooks me the most these days (I'm watching Inspector Joy, The Red Sleeve, and Idol The Coup). It's so unpredictable I feel like I just have to sit and got delivered a nice entertainment.

Ps. I tried watching The King's Affection but it hasn't gripped me... I only went through 3 episodes tho... Should I try again...?

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Yes you should. I rewatched the first episode for at least 5 times before I got engaged with the plot.

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If there's one thing this show knows to do perfectly, it's how to end these episodes with a bang. There's honestly a lot of questionable things from some possible plot hole to inconsistent character decisions (maybe it's not inconsistent, we just don't know the REAL face of that character yet, idk) but I'd ended up forgiving almost all the imperfection every time I go through the ending.
A lot of kdrama mystery/thriller tends to show obvious clues where the story will end and for me, what's interesting is how we get to that point. But with this one.... I really have NO idea where this drama is getting me, whenever I thought they're going one way they took a turn and give a new story. I'm loving it so far but I hope it doesn't mean that this show doesn't actually know where to go

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I wonder who killed the aunt?

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I have a hard time not defaulting to K. If she hadn't set up the mechanism then her aunt wouldn't have been shot. (True Kyung-yi could have also not got Sook's crew to bring her & Je-hee could not have not stopped Ko Dam from not leaving first.)

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Was it her who set it up? Oh, that wasn't clear to me. That is why she told her to stay put, makes sense.

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Yes that was K's final trap in case he made it out of his escape passage. K killed her Aunt although her Aunt shouldn't have been there so I could see how K would end up blaming others.

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All these years (also prompted by occasional dramabeans' monthly pieces) I wondered what female drama character I could identify myself with. I mean, I did have a crush on Chae Young Shin's personality as well as some other badass characters, but why did I never ever feel like an actual kdrama heroine? Well, this ended with Koo Kyung Yi, and it feels so, so cathartic. I wasn't particularly fond of Lee Young Ae before this (I mean, generation gap and all, I was too young when Jewel of the Place was the trend), but boy, oh, boy, I am just fangirling and healing and everything. Oh, and loving the script and the twists and turns. And the soundtrack is my new addiction, I study and work and do everything while it plays in the background. Oh, I am such a happy camper. And YES, I am so waiting for K's further reactions, and Santa's mystery and all. A drama hasn't felt this good for some time now.

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I had that mini heart attack with the opening. I wanted to see the next episode within the first few minutes. I did not care about K, I wanted answers about Santa's stitching of that doll and the scrapbook (which i got in the next episode, the next day of course)

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I can never think ill of Santa.

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I found myself really wanting to see Ko Dam finished off. What a reprehensible human being.

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This episode really bummed me out. Why Santa?

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Usually I'm stuck watching shows where the plot is gripping but the production elements are so-so but Inspector Koo is the other way around. Its production elements are so amazing but I feel disconnected and disinterested in the plot. It took me several days to watch this episode, I just couldn't muster any care about what was happening. If this continues I might have to drop even though the visual and audio aspects are amazing.

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