This episode skips around freely through flashbacks as we learn more about Jin-hyuk’s wife and her connection to Sang-tae, and whether or not she was as crooked as the evidence seems to imply. We also learn more about Tae-gu and his past, which only solidifies the fact that he’s a psychopath. Of course, we already knew that, but the villain can never be too evil — or too handsome.
Chapter 13: “The Birth of Satan”
Kwon-joo reveals the information she’s found about the homeless man Chul-han and his connection to Jin-hyuk’s wife, Ji-hye. She believes Ji-hye’s death has something to do with Chul-han, but Jin-hyuk refuses to believe it and steps outside to for a smoke.
As he does, Sang-tae calls him, offering him a deal. In exchange for his freedom, he’ll help Jin-hyuk catch the true killer, and even provide the evidence of all the other crimes the killer has committed. Jin-hyuk asks why he should trust him, and Sang-tae says they should meet at a guest house where Jin-hyuk and his wife used to visit — proving that he knew Ji-hye enough to know the location of her favorite weekend getaway.
At the same time, Kwon-joo receives a message from Tae-gu, politely asking if they could meet. She’s shocked he knows her name, but she’s distracted when she hears Jin-hyuk on the phone, and from the way he’s speaking, she realizes he must be talking to Sang-tae.
However, when she confronts him about it, Jin-hyuk denies it. She persists, and he finally admits that he’s agreed to meet with Sang-tae so they can find out more about the real killer. Kwon-joo is ready to call for backup, but Jin-hyuk reminds her that there’s a mole in the police station, so they have to be careful what they report.
Kwon-joo is still worried. He might not be the killer they’re after, but Sang-tae is still dangerous. Jin-hyuk knows that if Sang-tae has contacted him, then he’s run out of other options. Besides, he’s going to meet him not because he trusts Sang-tae, but to protect others from getting hurt. He also needs to know the truth about his wife.
He takes a taxi to the guesthouse and Kwon-joo gets in her car to follow him. She calls Dae-shik to let him know that Jin-hyuk, who’s also drunk, is headed to meet Sang-tae. Thanks to her super hearing, she knows the name of the guest house, and Dae-shik looks up the address for her before racing out of the station to go there himself.
She finds it strange that Sang-tae would know of a place that ought to have meaning for only Jin-hyuk and his wife. She puts in another call, this time to Hyun-ho, asking to do an unofficial search for Jin-hyuk’s phone GPS as well as the most recent number that called his phone. Hyun-ho confirms that the GPS shows he’s near the guest house, but the most recent phone number is blocked.
At home, Tae-gu speaks to someone on the phone, who tells him something about Sang-tae. Tae-gu seems both amused and irritated that Sang-tae seems so determined to protect his own “worthless” life.
Meanwhile, the land planning director calls CEO Mo, letting him know that he’s too nervous about being caught in a scandal if it’s found that he was at the club that night, which throws a monkey wrench in CEO Mo’s plan for his bus depot. Remembering his conversation with his son, when he tried to confirm where he was when he disappeared for those ten minutes, he asks his driver to head to Tae-gu’s apartment, knowing that his son isn’t there right now.
Sang-tae’s at the guesthouse, waiting for Jin-hyuk. He’s no longer going to be Tae-gu’s “dog.” Speak of the devil, though — Tae-gu calls him, but Sang-tae tells him he’s busy and will call him later. Except Tae-gu is there at the guesthouse, and points out that Sang-tae doesn’t look busy. He asks if this is where Sang-tae planned to meet Jin-hyuk.
It certainly seems like it, since Jin-hyuk’s taxi pulls up outside. As Jin-hyuk approaches the guesthouse, everything is dark and still, and he pulls out his gun as he tells Sang-tae to stop hiding and face him.
But the voice that answers him is his wife’s. She says that she misses Chul-han and she’ll be punished because it’s all her fault. Even in death, she’ll suffer due to her mistakes. As he races up the stairs to find the source of the voice, Ji-hye apologizes to Jin-hyuk. She wonders if she’s wronged Chul-han.
Jin-hyuk calls out for his wife, but the message starts to repeat. He sees the recorder lying on the floor, placed on top of a Bible with other documents surrounding it. With tears in his eyes, he stops the recording and then rifles through the documents, which show that Ji-hye was indeed a broker for GP Development who got consent from various homeless people to use their bodies.
Struggling with his emotions, he stands up, looking around for Sang-tae. But when he opens the curtains, he discovers Sang-tae hanging from the tree outside.
As he staggers outside to face Sang-tae’s body, Jin-hyuk, still reeling from what he heard and saw, furiously yells at Sang-tae to tell him what he knows.
Dae-shik and Kwon-joo arrive at the guesthouse, and they enter the room where the voice recorder and documents are. But Sang-tae’s hanging body causes Kwon-joo to gasp when she sees it from the window, and Dae-shik runs to stop Jin-hyuk from shooting at Sang-tae’s body. Jin-hyuk yells his frustration and grief as Dae-shik wrestles the gun away from him, but Sang-tae’s secrets have died with him.
Tae-gu washes the blood off his hands, remembering how Sang-tae told him that it’s time for him grow up. Sang-tae said that he’d been been protecting Tae-gu all this time, but now he’s done. Laughing, Tae-gu tells him that he’s actually the one who saved Sang-tae’s life. But this time, Sang-tae has deserted him.
As Sang-tae tells him that he’s gone too far and it’s about time Tae-gu sees a therapist, Tae-gu pulls out a rope and starts to choke Sang-tae. He wrestles against Tae-gu, gasping that he’s always thought of him like a little brother. He calls Tae-gu a bastard for this betrayal, but Tae-gu just gleefully grins as he strangles Sang-tae. He also pulls out a knife and stabs Sang-tae in the guts.
He then carefully set out the documents, Bible, and voice recorder so that Jin-hyuk would find them.
The blood now washed from his hands, Tae-gu sits down in his immaculate apartment. He sees that his closet is slightly opened, which is odd, and he goes to close it. We can’t see what’s in it, but knowing Tae-gu, it’s nothing good.
CEO Mo looks deflated as his driver takes him home. Over the radio, a news report reveals that Sang-tae has been found dead, and it’s determined to be a suicide, assumed to be due to the stress of being wanted by the police for murder.
CEO Mo remembers Sang-tae telling him recently that Tae-gu is out of control right now, but CEO Mo reassured him that Tae-gu is resilient and can take after himself.
Flashback to twenty-five years ago, when Sang-tae’s father introduced a young Sang-tae to CEO Mo, promising him that he’ll be loyal and useful. CEO Mo points out how young Sang-tae’s jaw crackles, and his father just says the boy needed to be taught a lesson. Oh, so the crackling noise is due to a broken jaw?
CEO Mo is delighted to have someone to help keep an eye on the young Tae-gu, who also imitates Sang-tae’s crackling jaw. CEO Mo says if Sang-tae takes care of Tae-gu, he’ll treat him like he’s his own son.
Back in the (near) present, CEO Mo enters Tae-gu’s empty apartment. Nothing seems amiss until he leans against what looks like the wall, revealing the closet door. Cautiously, he opens it, but everything looks normal.
As he begins to shut the door, something catches his eye, and when he opens it and moves the clothes out of the way, CEO Mo backs up in fear when he sees the plastic-wrapped body in the corner.
That reminds him of when he found young Tae-gu at home, bludgeoning his pet dog with a hammer. Much to CEO Mo’s shock and horror, Tae-gu simply explains that the dog bit him, so he’s teaching it a lesson. Ahhhh, it puts the grown Tae-gu’s statement that Sang-tae is like a dog that bit its master in a whole new light.
The Violent Crimes Unit and the Forensics Unit are both at the guesthouse collecting evidence. Chief Jang wonders if it’s really suicide, and the Forensics chief says that, as improbable as it looks, it’s totally possible that Sang-tae hanged himself after stabbing himself in the stomach. Sure it is. Besides, his fingerprints were the only ones on the knife. Well, that’s interesting, since I don’t remember Tae-gu wearing gloves until after he killed Sang-tae.
Chief Jang warns his men not to spread any rumors about what happened, especially anything that pertains to Jin-hyuk’s wife. Then he asks to speak to Jin-hyuk in private, reminding him that he knows from personal experience that getting involved with these guys is no joke.
But Jin-hyuk can’t stop thinking about how he ignored Jin-hye’s phone call on the day she died. He was too busy celebrating catching a criminal. He despondently says he’s not the “mad dog” because he’s good at catching criminals — it’s because he’s crazy about catching them in the first place. He’ll do anything to get them, especially when it meant getting revenge on his wife’s killer. That’s what makes him a “mad dog.”
CEO Mo meets with Commissioner Bae, reminding him that it’s only thanks to CEO Mo that he became a commissioner at all. He thinks that Commissioner Bae has forgotten to whom the position really belongs, and that since CEO Mo bought him that position, he can easily take it away and give it to someone else.
He’d ordered Commissioner Bae to take care of Sang-tae, but it was his men who eventually pushed Sang-tae into a corner. He blames the Golden Time Team for Sang-tae’s suicide, and Commissioner Bae, knowing that he must appease the one who’s given him his wealth and power, promises CEO Mo that he’ll take care of it.
Dae-shik drives Jin-hyuk to the hospital so he can be with his son, reassuring him that the investigation will reveal the truth and show that Ji-hye isn’t the kind of person Sang-tae’s evidence says she is. Instead of going to be with Dong-woo, Jin-hyuk slowly walks through the alley where his wife’s body was found.
He remembers drunkenly barging onto the crime scene and falling down next to her body, his head by her feet. Stopping at the exact place where her body lay, he lies down in the same position he was that night, his hand reaching out to hold a phantom foot.
Kwon-joo, too, walks through the alleyways where her father died, reliving the sounds she heard over the radio. She tells her father that, for everyone else, the killer was found dead today. But she doesn’t believe Sang-tae is the real killer. The real killer is a monster who kills relentlessly and endlessly, and she knows that it won’t be easy to go against him.
But as she starts to cry, she vows that she’ll find the killer and arrest him. She’ll make him beg for forgiveness, and then, at her father’s grave, she’ll make him say he’s sorry for what he’s done. Nice sentiments, but I very much Tae-gu is the type to apologize for anything, ever.
Tae-gu relaxes in his bath and checks his text message. It’s from Kwon-joo, who tells him that there must be some confusion about needing his testimony from the club, and she’s passed along his message to Chief Jang. He pulls out a photo that’s stuffed in a book (a collection of Goethe’s poetry, notably containing “Der Erlkönig,” which definitely seems like something Tae-gu would read), and it’s the photo of Kwon-joo with her father.
Flashback to the night when he entered her apartment. No idea how he got in, but that’s not important. He makes himself at home, helping himself to some water and sitting down on her bed. He gently strokes her pillow, his eyes closing as he perhaps imagines her lying there. So. Creepy.
Slowly he wanders the small space, but he’s especially drawn to the the spotlight that’s shining on a closed set of curtains. He opens the curtains to reveal Kwon-joo’s evidence wall, and as he realizes that it’s all about his past murders and that Kwon-joo is investigating him, he jumps up-and-down in glee like a kid on Christmas who’s just been given the gift they’ve wanted most.
Back in the present day, Tae-gu sets down the stolen photo and then slowly sinks under the bath water (no blood this time, thank goodness).
One of the forensics guys gave Kwon-joo a copy of Ji-hye’s voice recording, and she carefully listens to it. Something sounds unnatural to her, and with her super hearing and the audio technology on her laptop, she realizes that Ji-hye’s words were spliced together from a different message.
The next morning, Hyun-ho and Eun-soo are at work, and really serve no purpose except to be cute and give exposition about information we already know. And apparently Hyun-ho was once good at sports. I dunno if that’s important, but I’ll take whatever allows them the few seconds of screen time they can get.
Commissioner Bae is determined to dissolve the Golden Time Team, but the other higher-ups in the station (but who are his subordinates) try to point out that the Golden Team Time has actually been helpful and should become a permanent unit. But Commissioner Bae refuses to budge, and the men have no choice but to agree.
How long has Sang-tae’s henchman been in the interrogation room? Jin-hyuk confronts him with the recording he made of Sang-tae’s phone call, and asks the henchman if he knows who the real killer is that Sang-tae is referring to.
The henchman refuses to answer, so Jin-hyuk shows him a photo of Sang-tae’s body, asking him if he really thinks that Sang-tae would commit suicide by both stabbing and hanging himself. The henchman grudgingly admits that Sang-tae’s wound was made by a left-handed person, and Sang-tae never uses his left hand.
But the henchman can’t think of any left-handed person close to Sang-tae. He also hesitates to answer when Jin-hyuk asks him who Sang-tae met at the club that night. He finally admits that one of their sponsors is Sungwun Express — which fits since CEO Mo and Tae-gu were there that night.
Chief Jang interrupts, asking to speak with Jin-hyuk. As he steps outside the interrogation room, Jin-hyuk leaves behind the photo of Sang-tae hanging from the tree. Aw, I kinda feel bad, since Sang-tae’s henchman seemed truly fond of his boss.
Chief Jang has remembered that someone told him about GP Development when he was at the club (and then got filmed for blackmail). He also finds it odd that the only people who knew about Jin-hyuk going to meet Sang-tae were Kwon-joo and Dae-shik — even the chief didn’t know about it until afterwards. He warns Jin-hyuk to be careful because there’s a leak in the station.
Dae-shik suddenly appears, amazed that an “inside man” is talking about another inside man. Chief Jang leaves, and Dae-shik asks Jin-hyuk why he’s suddenly teaming up with Chief Jang when the chief is the most suspicious one in terms of who’s causing the leak. Jin-hyuk explains that the chief was a part of it by accident, and that there’s another betrayer in the station.
Dae-shik is astonished at how corrupt the police are, but he’s distracted by a phone call from his father. He’s happy to report back to Jin-hyuk that his father is enjoying his nursing home, and Jin-hyuk sadly tells him to be nice to his father while he can. Dae-shik tries to boost his partner’s spirit by suggesting he get some rest, but Jin-hyuk gets a message from Kwon-joo and excuses himself to meet with her.
Tae-gu and his father have lunch together, but Tae-gu just picks at his food, asking his father the real reason behind his desire to get together. CEO Mo informs Tae-gu that he’s hired a lawyer “just in case” they need to testify for the club incident, acting as though it’s a minor irritant.
Tae-gu wonders if his father was at his place last night, and CEO Mo laughs, asking his son why he’d visit if Tae-gu wasn’t home. He then asks if Tae-gu knows if Sang-tae committed suicide, and Tae-gu calmly replies that Sang-tae must have been going through a difficult time.
Unable to hide his emotion, CEO Mo suddenly slams down his bowl, his voice quavering as he asks Tae-gu how could he? Does he know about the countless bodies that were found when the lake was drained? He pleads with his son to start thinking about the future and stop living in the moment.
Tae-gu pities his father for becoming cowardly in his old age. He wishes CEO Mo would live a long life, though, since his own life was much more interesting thanks to his father. He stands to leave, telling his father that he’s heading to the police station. Smiling, he says that he should put a stop to things before they get out of hand.
Kwon-joo fills Jin-hyuk in on her visit to the bus depot this morning, where she met with the man who was closest to Chul-han before he disappeared. Driver Park tells her that he feels bad that they had to go different ways, but being homeless, they didn’t have much choice when they were looking for shelter during the winter.
He does know that Chul-han had a crush on one of the social workers at the center — Ji-hye. It was actually thanks to Chul-han that he got a job as a bus driver, because he’d been recommended through GP Development Human Resources, which is where Chul-han got a job.
He recognizes Sang-tae’s photo, telling her that he was the director of GP Development, and seemed very interested in Chul-han. A few days after he was hired, Chul-han told him that he was going to work for as a bodyguard or sparring partner for someone, which Driver Park thought was a little strange. But Driver Park doesn’t know who that “someone” is.
Kwon-joo also tells Jin-hyuk that she’s figured out that Ji-hye’s recording was manipulated and that the accusations against her are false. She plays the original message (I guess she re-edited it?) and Jin-hyuk listens with tears in his eyes as his wife tells him that something has gone wrong and that she’s worried GP Development will threaten him like they threatened her.
She reveals that GP Development keeps looking for homeless people, which she finds suspicious. Instead of acting as a broker, Ji-hye went around looking for the homeless people that had disappeared, recording her findings. Kwon-joo is convinced that Ji-hye found the same truth that they’re attempting to find now, too, and was killed for it.
Tae-gu arrives at Commissioner Bae’s office, showing him the general summons he received to testify in Gyu-ah’s case. Commissioner Bae reassures him that there must be a misunderstanding and that he’ll take care of it.
Meanwhile, Kwon-joo’s assistant shows her and Jin-hyuk the notice that the Golden Time Team is ordered to disband. The date says January 30th — so they didn’t even last a month. They go charging up to Commissioner Bae’s office to discuss this with him, but his assistant stops them, telling them that he’s with an important guest.
Commissioner Bae seizes the opportunity to scold them in front of Tae-gu, blaming them for wasting everyone’s time, especially the CEO’s of Sungwun Express. But Tae-gu tells him there’s no need for scolding. He stands to introduce himself, and Kwon-joo freezes as she realizes that this voice is the same as the one she heard over the radio that night.
Jin-hyuk half-heartedly shakes Tae-gu’s hand, but Kwon-joo balls her fist as Tae-gu holds out his hand. He’s not bothered by it, and invites her to ask whatever questions she may have (presumably about what happened the night Gyu-ah died), since he’s here at the station anyway. But she’s too distraught by the realization that she’s finally met the person behind the voice she’s sought for so long.
AHHHHHHHHHHH. I knew this had to happen eventually, and with only a few episodes left, it had to happen soon, but I’m still as shaken as Kwon-joo now that she’s finally face-to-face with the killer. What’s worse is that she can’t do anything about it because so far there’s no proof — and she knows Commissioner Bae isn’t exactly on her side, either. It’s so stressful, but in all the best ways, since this considerably amps things up now that we’re finally figuring out what really happened that night Ji-hye and Kwon-joo’s father died.
It wasn’t just a random “wrong place at the wrong time” killing, at least not for Ji-hye (for Kwon-joo’s father, unfortunately, it does seem to be). Tae-gu purposefully sought ought Ji-hye and brutally killed her for something she knew about him. That definitely seems to fit his modus operandi a lot better than the original “attempted rape” spiel.
As much as it disgusts me, I’m assuming that Sang-tae was using homeless people to help quench Tae-gu’s thirst for blood (er, not literally, I don’t think, but one never knows with this crazy killer). I’d kinda assumed that Ji-hye wasn’t the first person he murdered, but I’d never really thought about how she might actually be wayyyyyyyyyyy down on that list. Like, way, way, way down on the the murder list. What did his father mean by “countless” bodies? Over a hundred? Thousand? It seems ridiculous, but at this point I’d believe anything, depending on how large the lake was that Tae-gu apparently used to dispose of his bodies. And even then, I think the absurd logic of this show could persuade me that he hides them all under the tiles of his giant bathroom and I’d accept it provided the show kept delivering on the hair-raising suspense each week. Or would that be hair-scalping suspense?
It’s horrifying to realize that Tae-gu essentially sees other people as creatures to hunt for his amusement. No wonder he kept souvenirs of their hair, since it’s probably no different to him than someone keeping the antlers or pelt from an animal that’s been hunted for sport. Which is gross to think about, even though I feel like I now understand Tae-gu so much better. Not that I really want to understand him, but he’s a born psychopath and his father, with all his millions, has been desperately trying to contain in ways that won’t get them noticed. He’s used his money to buy the police, to buy Sang-tae’s loyalty, to buy his way out of all the problems that his son keeps causing.
But I think CEO Mo is finally reaching a breaking point, especially since I believe he was sincere about accepting Sang-tae as his own son. So now he has to deal with the fact that his flesh-and-blood son has killed the man who’s been a part of his family and the primary one to cover up Tae-gu’s crimes for the past twenty-five years. As smart as Tae-gu is (and even though he’s certifiably insane — isn’t cruelty to animals at a young age a textbook signifier of a sociopath? — he’s also very smart), I don’t think he’ll be able to kill, buy, or charm his way out of this in the end. Which is a good thing, because he’s the bad guy, and so he shouldn’t win. But he’s such a charismatically creepy bad guy that I want the final battle between him and Kwon-joo to be epic, making me bite my nails until the bitter end.