Inspector Koo: Episode 8
Our team’s disbandment has them feeling distrustful and adrift without resources, which makes it hard for them to find the answers to their lingering questions. Meanwhile, our killer seeks answers of her own, but her recent loss leaves her wrestling with her identity as the darkness within her evolves.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Jung-yeon kneels in front of a statue of the virgin Mary, but she’s startled mid-prayer when kyung pounds on the church’s organ keys and interrupts her communion with her deceased sister. Kyung, who is dressed in her high school uniform, smiles sheepishly for causing the disturbance.
Over ice cream, Jung-yeon pulls out a wallet containing a picture of her and her sister. She tearfully explains that she was praying to Kyung’s mother because she was always a great listener. Kyung is jealous that Jung-yeon has someone who will listen to her, and Jung-yeon is playfully offended that Kyung doesn’t consider her a confidant But, her aunt says as she hands the wallet to Kyung, if there is ever anything she cannot talk to Jung-yeon about, she can tell her mom instead. Jung-yeon excuses herself for a moment, and Kyung stares at the photo of her mother and aunt. After a moment, she emotionlessly states that she doesn’t hear anything.
Mr. Kim, along with some of Sook’s people, attend Jung-yeon’s funeral in hopes of catching K. She doesn’t appear, but Geon-wook, who is pretending to visit a nearby grave, watches the ceremony in her place.
Kyung-yi is wrapped in a blanket burrito on the floor with her cell phone laying next to her. Je-hee reports that they were unable to identify Kyung’s accomplice from his license plate. Kyung didn’t show up at her aunt’s funeral either, so there’s not much left for their team to do. The call ends, and Kyung-yi hoarsely orders Santa to close the windows because rain from the thunderstorm is leaking inside.
Santa, who is curled up in his own bundle of blankets and laundry on the other side of the room, doesn’t move. Lightning flashes and silhouettes Kyung’s creepy form as she crawls towards Santa like a horror movie villain. When she reaches him, she realizes that he’s running a fever. After checking his forehead temperature, she reaches into his pocket and removes his wallet. Cue more thunder and lightning for dramatic effect.
The thunder transitions into rhythmic drum beats. In the back row of a dance aerobics class, Kyung expertly follows the steps and flings herself into the expressive movements. Next, she stops at the ice cream parlor she frequented with her aunt, but she’s indecisive without her aunt there to help her select. After ordering all the flavors, she answers Geon-wook’s call. He confirms her aunt was cremated and suggests that she go visit, but Kyung doesn’t see the point and hangs up. As she eats, the scene gets grainy and dark.
At a memorial for Ko Dam, Heo Sung-tae speaks to reporters and uses his former opponent’s death to score brownie points with the public by announcing a new initiative for mandatory safety inspections. Nearby, Je-hee eats a meal with Sook and Mr. Kim, and Sook insincerely comments that it’s such a shame Ko Dam died so young. In response, Je-hee points out that Ko Dam wasn’t a good person, but Sook drops her half-hearted mournful façade and warns Je-hee to watch what she says in public.
Sook fawns over Mr. Kim, pouring water into his soup to dilute the saltiness and asks if his daughter needs any assistance. Mr. Kim assures he’s capable of providing for his family, but Sook insists on taking care of her people because she knows what’s best for them, pointedly explaining — more for Je-hee than Mr. Kim — that she can’t work with people who don’t do as she says. Rather than addressing Je-hee directly, Sook asks Mr. Kim if Je-hee has “taken care of her people.” Je-hee answers for herself and explains that Kyung-yi is currently in a depressive state, unable to leave her apartment.
Mr. Kim asks about K, and Sook insists that they must catch her, claiming to have a gut feeling that she will get along well with K. Sook impatiently asks Mr. Kim when she will be able to meet her, and she’s displeased when he gives a non-committal answer. Sook is still staring unhappily at him when her son joins them at the table and sits next to an uncomfortable Je-hee.
Santa wakes up to find Kyung-yi watching him. She offers him a bowl of uncooked ramyeon noodles . As he attempts to break the noodle brick with a spoon, Kyung-yi begins questioning Santa’s allegiance. After stealing his wallet, she’d done a background check on him, but his recent name change made it impossible to dig deeply into his past. She also finds it odd that the only contacts saved in his phone are the members of Team B.
In order to prove he’s not in kahoots with K, he invites her to his apartment, where she discovers a small collection of items on his shelf that are labeled with the names of Team B members. He explains that the items are connected to a moment when one of them made him feel warm inside. Among the items is a liquor bottle with Kyung-yi’s name on it, and when she questions its inclusion, he reveals that she’d poured him a glass from that bottle. She continues her search and finds one of Kyung’s dolls, and Santa discloses that he was only making the doll to try and get inside the head of the killer and figure out why she makes them.
Kyung-yi is no closer to understanding Santa, and she finds it fishy that the only items in Santa’s apartment pertain to them. Santa argues that she would have been suspicious no matter what his house looked like. At the back of a photo album filled with picture of Team B, Kyung-yi finds a photo of her husband, and after a moment of silence, she agrees with Santa’s assessment. No matter what, she would have doubted him, and since she cannot shake her suspicion, she decides it’s time they part ways.
At Team B’s basement office, Je-hee oversees members of Sook’s team as they confiscate all the files pertaining to their investigation. Kyung-soo arrives, and when he realizes what’s going on, he sneakily grabs one of the folders and hides it down the back of his pants. After Sook’s people leave, Je-hee explains that Team B has been disbanded and he has been transferred to Team A. Kyung-soo is full of questions, particularly about the circumstances surrounding Ko Dam and Jung-yeon’s deaths, but Je-hee reminds him that knowing when to give up is a virtue.
Won-shik, the cocky lead of Team A, arrives and is quick to insult their basement office and continues to throw shade by pretending he doesn’t know how to address Je-hee now that he outranks her, but she calmly tells him not to worry about it. Assuming she was fired, Won-shik acts concerned for her job prospects in the current market, but she hands him her new business card and explains that she’s already been hired as Heo Sung-tae’s campaign advisor. Both Won-shik and Kyung-soo stare at her in disbelief, and Je-hee apologizes to Kyung-soo for not telling him sooner.
Kyung is dining at a small restaurant when the TV switches to a campaign announcement delivered by Je-hee. Kyung recognizes her name and turns to watch, but she’s distracted when a mother at a nearby table begins to loudly scold her young son. The mother’s drunken behavior escalates, and she throws her shoe, which lands in Kyung’s food. The restaurant owner forcefully escorts the mother out of the building and offers to bring Kyung a new bowl. Kyung assures the owner that she is done, and follows the mother out into the street.
Kyung corners the mother on a rooftop, where she shoves the woman’s shoe into her mouth and maniacally explains that she doesn’t deserve to live. The mother struggles free and pushes Kyung away, causing her to fall to the ground. But as the mother tries to escape, Kyung sneezes, and in a flash the mother goes tumbling off the roof. With no recollection of what happened, Kyung peers over the side of the building at the mother’s body. She looks over her shoulder, as if she sees someone standing behind her, and tells her “aunt” that she will kill them all. A crowd begins to gather below, and Kyung giddily runs away.
Won-shik leads Kyung-soo to his new office, which is a closet that has become the catch-all spot for the team’s random junk and files. Won-shik hands Kyung-soo a large stack of files to complete by the end of the day and wishes him luck. Left to his own devices, Kyung-soo bangs his head on the underside of his new desk and triggers a memory of when he and Kyung-yi tried to capture Kyung’s accomplice. During the scuffle, he saw part of a tattoo, which he immediately sketches from memory.
Kyung-soo lets himself into Kyung-yi’s apartment. He comes bearing the gift of whisky and waves it enticingly in front of her face, but Kyung-yi is too distracted by her video games to acknowledge him. Sometime later, she turns on her kitchen light and finds him passed out at her table. Instead of explaining his presence, he offers her a glass of the alcohol. She takes a huge sniff of it, but she refuses to drink, explaining that she’s quit drinking because alcohol kills brain cells.
Kyung-yi tries to send him home, but he whips out his poorly drawn sketch of the accomplice’s tattoo. She rushes to fetch her own sketches of the mystery man’s face, but her hand drawn mug shots look like starry-eyed bishounen anime characters. Kyung-soo, however, is able to interpret her artistic vision and agrees to search the security footage for a man matching her drawings.
Kyung-soo still has questions about Ko Dam and Jung-yeon’s deaths, but unlike Je-hee, Kyung-yi is willing to discuss it with him. She blames herself for their deaths, for not being smart and suspicious enough to figure out that Ko Dam had an escape route that only he knew about. Kyung-yi wracks her brain for ideas, and asks Kyung-soo if he remembers Je-hee exiting the building through the main entrance with everyone else.
His memory is foggy, so he performs a handstand against Kyung-yi’s wall, explaining that the blood rushing to his head will jog his memory. After a moment, he confidently reports that Je-hee did not exit with the rest of the attendees. Impressed by his unorthodox technique, Kyung-yi attempts to perform her own handstand, but she repeatedly tumbles forward and causes Kyung-soo to laugh.
Geon-wook and Dae-ho are running along the river when Kyung rides up on a scooter. She acts excited to see them, but Geon-wook inserts himself in between her and Dae-ho, trying to hurry her away. Dae-ho is concerned when he notices blood on her hoodie, but she tells him that it was from a nosebleed. Geon-wook convinces Dae-ho to meet him where they were supposed to have lunch while he escorts his “cousin” home. Kyung resists, wanting to eat with them, but Geon-wook carries her away. As Dae-ho stares after them, he realizes that Kyung was the woman in the wheelchair who had crashed into them.
Once they are out of earshot, Geon-wook scolds Kyung for her recklessness and demands to know if she cleaned up after her latest murder. She claims she doesn’t remember and leads him to a public restroom, where they find the body of the woman Kyung drowned in the toilet. Geon-wook asks if she now kills randomly, but Kyung insists that her aunt told her the dead woman was a bad person. Geon-wook scrambles to disguise the murder as a suicide, but Kyugn ridicules his sloppy, panicked ideas.
Dae-ho, who followed them, calls out for Geon-wook. Geon-wook tells Kyung to stay put while he sends his boyfriend away, but Kyung warns that he has one minute to permanently get rid of Dae-ho or else she’s going to do it for him. She begins loudly counting down from sixty, and he rushes to shoo Dae-ho away. Geon-wook’s nervously twitchy behavior makes Dae-ho suspicious that Geon-wook is hiding a romantic relationship with Kyung, and he refuses to leave without an explanation. With only a few seconds left, Geon-wook confirms Dae-ho’s assumptions, lying that his feelings for Dae-ho were fake.
Kyung cheerfully exits the restroom at the end of her countdown, and Geon-wook intercepts her with a hug, quietly begging her to leave Dae-ho alone. She pats his back and goes along with the ruse, but after Dae-ho leaves, Geon-wook warns her not to touch Dae-ho. He threatens to commit suicide if she harms him. Then she would be left all alone.
Geon-wook and Kyung dispose of the body by boating out to the middle of the river and tossing it into the water. As it sinks, Geon-wook suggests that they return to their old, perfectly planned methods of killing, but Kyung is unconvinced, finding the randomness to be more thrilling. He reminds her that she still needs to kill her aunt’s murderers, but she asks him: What should we do since we are also at fault? He’s unable to reply, and she deems him useless. As Geon-wook drives them back to shore, Kyung decides that she’s going to be alone.
At Heo Sung-tae’s campaign headquarters, Sung-tae’s team is happy to report that he is currently in the lead, largely due to his recent push for mandatory safety inspections. A staff member turns on the TV, and the team watches as an employee of Sung-tae’s biggest rival smears his boss’s character, claiming she treated him like a slave. Je-hee is surprised by the news, but Sook reminds her that you never who people really are.
The campaign team decides to use their opponent’s scandal to gain momentum and steal her voters. Je-hee suggests they target their competitor’s largest demographic, women in their twenties and thirties, by reinforcing policies that would benefit them. Sook disagrees, claiming people aren’t interested in hearing about policies, and another campaign employee suggests appointing a strong, independent woman as a spokesperson for the campaign. Sook loves the idea and volunteers Je-hee for the position. As the rest of the team grows excited about their new campaign strategy to use Je-hee — and her sick daughter — to appeal to voters, Sook quietly asks Je-hee if she knows what to do. Je-hee replies that she should smile.
Still dressed in her bloodied hoodie, Kyung messily slurps her spicy noodles. The restaurant owner warns her to eat slowly or else she’ll ruin her clothes, but Kyung is unconcerned because she planned on throwing her hoodie away.
Kyung-yi scours security footage looking for Kyung’s accomplice and repeatedly ignores Santa’s requests to voice chat. She notes that the area was littered with security cameras, but he somehow avoided them all as if he knew where they were. After a slew of repeated requests from Santa, Kyung-yi answers and reminds him that she said she didn’t want to see him anymore, and that included in the game, too.
But it’s not Santa on the line. Instead, Kyung asks Kyung-yi how she can be so calm knowing Kyung could kill her at any moment. While Kyung-yi sends Santa a text to confirm he’s okay, Kyung-yi explains that Jung-yeon dying wasn’t part of their plan. Kyung doesn’t believe her, claiming she needs to see Kyung-yi’s face to determine if she’s telling the truth. Kyung-yi offers to meet in person if Kyung is willing to divulge what she knows, but Kyung ends the conversation short.
Kyung-yi hears someone at her door and grabs a pen to use as a weapon. Santa enters with some fried chicken, but Kyung-yi throws the food away when she receives a text from Kyung saying it looks tasty. She gives Santa a once-over to confirm he’s not injured, but before she can shove him out the door, she receives another text from Kyung, instructing Kyung-yi to meet her at a hotel at seven o’clock. From a nearby rooftop, Kyung watches Kyung-yi’s apartment through a pair of opera glasses.
Kyung-yi waits for Kyung in the hotel lobby, where she’s approached by an employee who hands her a cell phone and directs her to a table in their dining area. A meal has already been prepared for her, and Kyung-yi sniffs it suspiciously. Kyung calls and assures her that the food isn’t poisoned and reveals that she’s watching from somewhere nearby.
Kyung wants to know why her aunt was at the event the day she died, and while Kyung-yi explains that her aunt had wanted to prove that Kyung wasn’t a killer, she writes a note on a napkin. Kyung-soo, disguised as a chef, retrieves it and reads that Kyung is watching from the nearby party. While Kyung-soo searches for Kyung, Kyung-yi asks why Jung-yeon was found dead at the back of the building.
Kyung explains that she knew Ko Dam would have a secret escape route, so she’d set up the trap for him. Unfortunately her aunt got caught in the trap instead of Ko Dam. Kyung-yi realizes that Kyung didn’t kill Ko Dam, which makes Kyung realize that Kyung-yi was not a part of Ko Dam’s murder coverup. She knows that Kyung-yi’s team had a mysterious backer, but Kyung-yi argues that she’s delusional if she thinks there’s some giant conspiracy behind her team’s attempt to catch her.
Meanwhile, Kyung-soo does his best to avoid being spotted by Kyung, but she comes up behind him and drapes her arm around his shoulder. She continues to talk to Kyung-yi, asking why Je-hee was the only one who benefited from Ko Dam’s death. Kyung-yi claims she was offered something, too, but she turned it down. “And what about this guy?” Kyung asks, and Kyung-yi realizes Kyung-soo has been captured.
Kyung puts a fork to Kyung-soo’s throat, but Santa intervenes. Kyung quickly fights off Santa and returns the fork to Kyung-soo’s throat, but she can’t hear her aunt telling her to kill him so she scratches his arm instead. She sets off a series of smoke bombs to cover her escape, but before she leaves, she whispers to Santa that he should thank her aunt.
As Kyung-yi searches for Kyung-soo and Santa, she runs into Je-hee. Kyung-yi realizes Kyung is stalking Je-hee and that the meeting place had been intentional. Kyung-soo and Santa find them, and everyone relocates to the roof, where Kyung-yi reveals that Kyung didn’t kill Ko Dam. She pointedly looks a Je-hee and asks her where she was during the time of his murder since she wasn’t spotted during the building evacuation.
Je-hee admits that she helped capture Ko Dam, but she had no idea that Sook would kill him. She defends her actions by reminding them that Ko Dam was a bad person, but she’s also regretful that her actions indirectly caused Jung-yeon’s death. Kyung-yi suspects that they had another reason for killing Ko Dam, but she knows Je-hee wouldn’t tell them what it was even if she knew it. Santa then shares that Kyung let him and Kyung-soo live because her aunt told her not to kill them, but Kyung-yi isn’t confident that they deserve to live anymore.
At home, Je-hee’s father tries to convince her to quit her job by showing her one of Nana’s drawings. The figures of her mother and father have no faces. They argue over her life choices. She defends her decision to be a hardworking single mother, but he implies she will one day regret not being able to spend more time with her daughter. After he leaves, Je-hee peeks in on her sleeping daughter. Nana wakes up, and Je-hee climbs into bed with her. She asks Nana if she wants to appear on television with her, and Nana eagerly agrees.
After putting Nana to bed, Je-hee watches the video she secretly recorded of Ko Dam’s death. There’s a knock at her door, and a young boy who lives next door claims he’s scared because his mom and dad aren’t home. Je-hee cautiously opens the door, but the boy is gone. One by one the lights in the hallway turn off, and Kyung pokes her head around the door. She grabs the scarf around Je-hee’s neck and uses it to choke her.
Kyung-yi is sweaty and out of breath when she arrives at Sook’s favorite mountain restaurant. She sees the bottle of water on Sook’s table, crawls towards it, and drinks from it without asking for permission. Sook is amused by her actions, but she plays dumb when Kyung-yi pointedly asks why Sook killed Ko Dam.
Sook claims K was the one who killed him because Kyung-yi and her team failed to stop her. Kyung-yi ignores her Sook’s feigned ignorance, pointing out that Sook’s murder was overkill if her only reason for eliminating him was her son’s campaign. She could have easily squashed the competition with a scandal instead.
Sook accuses Kyung-yi of being someone who obsesses over her mistakes and suggests that she eat the meal brought out for her. Kyung-yi grumbles that she should have known better than to assume Sook would admit to murder, but the food entices her. As she eats, Kyung-yi ridicules Sook’s decision to leave Je-hee out in the open, making it easier for K to identify Sook’s involvement in her aunt’s death. Sook remains unaffected by the threat, but something beyond Kyung-yi’s shoulders causes her to do a double-take.
Kyung is standing behind Kyung-yi, and as she fingers Je-hee’s scarf, which she has tied around her neck, she asks Kyung-yi if it looks good on her.
As much as I’ve enjoyed this show, I did find my interest dwindling slightly over the last two or three episodes, as the characterization of Kyung took some unexplained turns. Like, why was she hiding out in a tent when she’s easily gone back to living her expensive lifestyle? So even though this episode was mostly filler and exposition, I felt it was needed in order to ground things and reestablish our characters before we head into the final two weeks. That being said, I still don’t feel like I know Kyung as either a killer or a person.
Her earlier killings would suggest she was an extremely methodical person, which was a contrast to her inconsistent, manic behavior. Additionally, the trigger behind all her killings — a darkness telling her who needed to be killed — is too personal, in my opinion, for her to have had Geon-wook as a partner, especially when she’s proven that she doesn’t actually need him to stage or complete her murders. She’s apparently a genius hacker and chemist, and while she’s assigned Geon-wook the role of her cleanup guy, it was not so much that she needed him as she used him to lighten her load instead.
I’m not a fan of using the death of a loved one to trigger a dramatic personality change, but now that Kyung has gone “crazy,” I admit I find her random, spontaneous solo killings to be more in line with her personality and the darkness that has been telling her to kill since, presumably, as early as high school. In the opening scene, she says, “I don’t hear anything,” as she stares at her aunt and mother’s photo, which is the same thing she said to Kyung-soo and Santa at the end of this episode, suggesting at one point she “checked” with the shadow to see if she should kill her aunt. It makes me wonder how much of her reaction to Jung-yeon’s death is tied to a fondness for her aunt (Is she capable of love?) or a rewiring of her brain following her, albeit accidental, murder of someone innocent.
As always, I appreciate the parallel journey our protagonist and antagonist go on, and Jung-yeon’s death resulting in Kyung-yi’s sobriety was a welcome change this episode. It was a nice touch, too, to see her pretending to drink at the hotel restaurant in order to convince Kyung that her faculties were still dulled from alcohol abuse, and I wonder if she will use that as a means to make her opponents underestimate her. But this episode did have me wondering if we are done exploring her past and her husband’s death. After the police questioned her about the anonymous letter they intercepted — Was that really sent by Kyung, by the way? And if so, why? — are we supposed to assume based on what she revealed during her conversation with the police that Kyung-yi has come to terms with her husband’s death? That he committed suicide because he was depressed Kyung-yi didn’t trust him? Maybe there just wasn’t enough time to cover her past this episode since things were more focused on the other characters.
Sook is definitely one of the characters I’m the most interested in learning about, but I’m not a fan of how she’s using Je-hee and tearing Team B apart. After finding out Je-hee secretly filmed Ko Dam’s murder, I suspect she may be acting the part of a docile pawn trying to work her way into Sook’s good graces, just so she can later expose Sook’s duplicitous nature. I sincerely hope she’s still alive and that this episode’s ending was a fakeout, but Kyung showing up at the end wearing Je-hee’s scarf has me worried. Sook didn’t seem terribly surprised to see Kyung there, so have the two of them teamed up? It seems unlikely given Sook’s involvement with her Jung-yeon’s death and Kyung’s recent assertion that she’s going to do things on her own, but Kyung also seemed interested in Sook’s ability to cover up Ko Dam’s murder. Maybe Kyung is looking for a new cleanup crew? Personally, I hope that isn’t the case; I’d rather the last four episodes be about Kyung trying to take down the enigmatic mobster queen, possibly with Team B’s assistance.
With only four episodes left, I feel like there is still a lot left for us to learn, and part of me is growing a bit distrustful of the writers. I’ve been burned before, thinking everything would be revealed with time, but by the end it became apparent that the writers were just making it all up as they went along. Hopefully, the last four episodes will be full of answers to our questions.