The cracks are starting to show as Kwon-joo gets closer and closer to finding out who the killer is — or at least who might be connected to him. After all, if this show has taught us anything so far, it’s that no turn is left untwisted and that no one can be trusted. Except, of course, Kwon-joo, Jin-hyuk, and the rest of the Golden Time Team. Probably. Maybe. I think.
Chapter 6: “The Secret of the Trash House — Eyes Inside the Wall Part 1”
Pinning him against the van, Kwon-joo demands to know how Kyung-il knows her father’s last words, something only she, her father, and the killer know. He tells her that he was in the neighborhood that night to take some pictures. He saw the killer and even tells Kwon-joo know that the killer used an odd round metal weapon (which we all know is a kettle bell). She persists in asking if he saw the killer’s face, and he smirks as he tells her that he did.
But before she can get more information out of him, Chief Jang barks at her to stop assaulting Kyung-il and orders his men to take him away. Even Jin-hyuk is baffled by her desperate need to talk to Kyung-il, assuming he’s just using the public information about her father’s death to buy her sympathy and lessen any criminal charges against him. But Jin-hyuk believes her when she tells him that Kyung-il knows what happened that night her father — and his wife — died.
Down at the harbor, a mysterious man in black tells someone on the phone that there’s been an unexpected delay, but he’s “taking care of it.” He’s at the harbor to inspect the goods in one of the large cargo containers, although the “goods” are revealed to be people. Human trafficking is all in a day’s work to the man in black, who sizes them up as though they were products to choose from, finally making his selection of a man from Myanmar who is skilled in martial arts — and who he can use as an assassin.
Eun-byul is treated at the hospital, and both Grandma and Eun-soo are happy to know that she’s safe and well. Eun-byul tells her sister that, when she was tied up in the back of the truck, she was losing the will to live, but listening to Kwon-joo talk to her over the phone gave her the strength to fight back. Perhaps working at the call center wouldn’t be such a waste of time after all.
As they closely follow after the van that’s transporting Kyung-il, Kwon-joo tells Jin-hyuk that she’s listened to thousands of call center recordings in the desperate hope to find one that might also have the killer’s voice, but there was nothing. Now that Dong-chul is dead, Kyung-il is their only chance to get more information about who the killer really is.
One of the Violent Crimes detectives notices that they’re almost out of gas. He swears he filled up the van yesterday, but they decide to pull over at the nearest gas station. Kyung-il begs for a chance to use the bathroom due to a stomach ache, which Chief Jang allows, provided he’s got an escort.
Chief Jang reports to Commissioner Bae that they’re on their way once they fill up the gas tank, and that he’s not concerned about Kyung-il trying to do anything stupid to get away. Commissioner Bae just wants them to get there as soon as possible since there’a already reporters waiting.
The detective escorting Kyung-il does a cursory check to make sure the bathroom is empty, but before he can open any stalls and make sure, his phone buzzes and he steps just outside to answer it. This detective, Detective Gu, is looking mighty suspicious, especially considering he’s the one who was supposed to have filled the tank earlier that morning.
Once he’s alone in the bathroom, Kyung-il spits out the handcuff keys he’s had in his mouth. They’d been on the floor of the police van and he’d surreptitiously hid them away until he could free himself from his cuffs. Just bad police work, or is there something more going on?
Kyung-il hops onto the urinals to figure out how to escape through the window, but an odd-yet-familiar noise catches his attention. One of the stall doors open, and a man, with a crackling jaw, grabs Kyung-il and throws him down on the ground.
Kwon-joo decides to make use of the unexpected pit stop to clean the wound on her temple, but with her super hearing, she can tell something odd is going on in the bathroom, despite the fact that it’s a silent struggle. She hears the tell-tale cracking noise and goes to investigate, but the door is locked.
The jaw-popping man is the human trafficking man in black, and he uses a wire to strangle Kyung-il. He then douses the young man in gasoline and lights his body on fire. Kyung-il is still alive, but barely, and he writhes around on the ground as Kwon-joo calls for Jin-hyuk. He and Detective Gu manage to break down the bathroom door and put out the flames.
As Detective Gu radios to the rest of the Violent Crimes team that Kyung-il set himself on fire, Kwon-joo checks his vital signs. With a laborious breath, he attempts to tell her something, but his burnt body makes it difficult. She can’t understand him and pleads with him to repeat it, but those were his apparently last words.
Jin-hyuk races around to the back of the gas station, looking for whomever killed Kyung-il. But the alley is empty. That’s because the man in black has hidden away in one of the nearby offices, watching the scene unfold from his safe vantage point.
The forensics team arrives to take control of the scene, and Chief Jang thinks Kwon-joo is ridiculous for insisting that it was a homicide instead of a suicide. He’s already annoyed that he’s going to get in trouble for letting a suspect die. Detective Gu reports that they’ve found a video clip on Kyung-il’s website that says he’d rather die than go to jail, and everyone knows that Kyung-il had access to and knowledge about flammable material.
Chief Jang even spins it around, pointing out the most suspicious person here is actually her. She warns him that she’ll be requesting a formal investigation and autopsy — then they’ll know who’s really in the right. In order to diffuse the rising tempers between the two department heads, Jin-hyuk practically drags Kwon-joo away.
She explains that someone else was in the bathroom and that Kyung-il was killed. Jin-hyuk reassures her that he believes her — and her super hearing — but the issue is that there’s no physical evidence to prove what she’s saying is true. Any DNA evidence of the struggle will have been destroyed in the fire. She insists that she heard the same jaw-cracking noise the killer made.
Kwon-joo actually precedent, since her independent investigation into Dong-chul’s death (which was ruled as a suicide according to the cops, even though we know he was murdered) led her to discovering the testimony of a waiter at a club who’d served Dong-chul the night before he died.
He said that Dong-chul didn’t seem like the type who would commit suicide, especially since he bragged about how he was about to come into a lot of money. As Dong-chul stepped out of the club to meet a mysterious man, the waiter heard the man’s jaw crack.
Kwon-joo is convinced that the same person who killed Dong-chul also killed Kyung-il — both times attempting to make it look like suicide. She’s also convinced that the murderer is getting help from inside the police force, and she points out the suspicious coincidences of the Violent Crimes team running out of gas and needing to stop at this specific station, as well as leaving a set of handcuff keys accessible.
Jin-hyuk is shocked that she’d suggest the Violent Crimes team, one that he’d been a part of for so many years, could be a part of this. But then he remembers seeing odd marks on Chief Jang’s thumb earlier that morning, and when Jin-hyuk investigates the fuel line, he realizes that it’s been tampered with a chisel — a tool could easily leave similar wounds as the chief has if, say, the person using it missed his mark in tampering with the fuel line to make sure the van ran out of gas.
They have to hurry to find evidence without any of the other detectives finding out what they’re doing, and Jin-hyuk calls Dae-shik — who’s apparently been released from the hospital (and has a new haircut!) — to find out if any nearby shops have CCTV.
He reports back that there isn’t anything useful, and he’s bewildered why Jin-hyuk is still investigating this case when the Violent Crimes Unit has it pretty much wrapped up. Jin-hyuk just snaps at him to stop asking questions. Oh, and also to keep an eye on Chief Jang and make note of everything he does and anyone he speaks to.
As they look along the alleyway behind the gas station, Kwon-joo and Jin-hyuk are frustrated that there’s no evidence of anyone escaping that way. She tries to figure what Kyung-il was telling her as he died, but she could only make out the first syllable, which is no help. Jin-hyuk realizes that even though there’s no CCTV in the alley, the building across the way has reflective glass where something might have been seen and recorded from a parked car’s blackbox camera that happened to be facing the glass.
Chief Jang quietly accepts Commissioner Bae’s wrath about what happened, although the commissioner seems more concerned about the media finding out about the police’s blunder and making the police department out to be fools. After the meeting, Chief Jang takes a call from someone, and tells the person on the other end that things are taken care of, so the other person should keep their promise and not bother him any more.
Kwon-joo and Jin-hyuk study the footage from the blackbox, and there’s definitely a reflection of someone leaving from the bathroom window after the fire and exiting down the alley. She thinks they should take the information to Commissioner Bae, but Jin-hyuk reminds her that they can’t trust anyone.
Instead, they go to the club where Dong-chul was last scene before his death. They’re not there to interview the waiter, though. Instead, they want to speak to the club’s madam. Based on intel from one of Jin-hyuk’s buddies, they know that she’s built the club into an elite place for rich people to kick their kicks — and also run a prostitution ring. There’s also a rumor the madam had an affair with the chairman of a huge corporation and had a kid with him, although there’s also a rumor that the kid’s father is really an old boyfriend.
Armed with that knowledge, Kwon-joo and Jin-hyuk enter the club. Or at least they try to, but the security guys won’t let them through. Jin-hyuk channels his inner “Mad Dog” but before he can do anything serious, the madam herself appears and invites them in, knowing they’re detectives.
Getting straight to the point, Jin-hyuk asks about a man with a cracking jaw, and based on what they could see from the blackbox video, also a slight limp. The madam demurs, telling them that they get so many clients it’s impossible to know who he’s talking about. Kwon-joo reassures her that they’re not there to disrupt her business, and shows her a picture of Dong-chul,
The madam just brushes her off, but Kwon-joo lets her know that they have evidence that her child isn’t really the chairman’s, and if she doesn’t cooperate, then maybe everyone else will find out when they leak it to the media. But the madam threatens them back, warning them that if they don’t leave, she can also destroy their careers.
Jin-hyuk intervenes, showing her the awful and stomach-churning photos of the the killer’s victims, letting her know that she’s hiding information about someone who would do this. He warns her that if she doesn’t tell them what they want, he’ll have her arrested as an accomplice and then continue to dig up information about her so she’ll stay in jail for a very long time. Does she want her son to spend his life visiting her in jail?
That threat works, and she looks up Dong-chul’s reservation the night before he died, since Dong-chul wasn’t the one who had the connections to get him into the club. It was made in a false name, which isn’t unusual for her kind of clientele. After thinking a bit, she can recall a different night when a group of men came in, and one of them made cracking sounds with his jaw. He’s not one of regulars, and the only thing she overheard was about a company called GP Development.
That night, Kwon-joo updates her wall o’ evidence. She crosses out Dong-chul’s photo and adds two new ones: Chief Jang and Commissioner Bae. Next to Chief Jang, she notes GP Development. Next to Commissioner Bae is a question mark. She promises her father that she’s getting closer to catching his killer.
Also that night, the mysterious man in black is busy reassuring one of his business ties that their deal will be completed as soon as he gets the final townhouse. But his contact informs him that the Golden Time Team has been at the club. He’s sent the official profiles of Kwon-joo and Jin-hyuk, and based on their pictures, realizes they’re the ones who were investigating the alleyway behind the gas station.
In the morning, Dae-shik delivers all the information he could find on GP Development. There’s over 300 companies listed that have similar names, but he’s managed to narrow it down to a handful that have a CEO in their 40’s that match Jin-hyuk’s description. He’s still baffled why Jin-hyuk is making him do all this, but he’s no dummy — he knows that Jin-hyuk and Kwon-joo are investigating something relating to the night their family members were killed.
In the privacy of an interrogation room (and thus out of earshot of any Violent Crimes detectives), Jin-hyuk tells Dae-shik that he and Kwon-joo suspect that the person who killed Kyung-il and Dong-chul was also the person who killed his wife and Kwon-joo’s father. Dae-shik is stunned that they think Dong-chul was murdered — after all, there was a suicide note!
Then why did he tell him to keep an eye on Chief Jang? Jin-hyuk admits he thinks there’s a connection, but he’s not sure what it is yet. All Dae-shik knows is that last night the chief went to a bar by himself and got really drunk.
At the call center, Eun-soo introduces herself as a new recruit. Kwon-joo is thankful that she changed her mind about accepting the position, and Eun-soo admits that her interest was primarily due to how the center helped to save her sister — but also because she now believes it will look good on her resume.
She settles into her desk which is right next to Hyun-ho, who’s happy to remind her that he’d predicted she’d end up here after all. She just tells him she doesn’t like to chit-chat while she’s at work. Not that it stops Hyun-ho, who notes that their boss’s meeting with Commissioner Bae must not have gone well.
Indeed it didn’t, although Kwon-joo silently and stoically withstands his threats of disbanding the Golden Time Team if she tries to use it as an excuse to investigate her father’s death. He accuses her of putting officers lives in danger just to satisfy her private obsession. But Kwon-joo just ponders the connection between Commissioner Bae and Chief Jang, wondering how far up the chain the corruption goes.
The call center hums with the usual activity of the day — the majority of them prank calls, much to Eun-soo’s surprise. When a call comes in about a man threatening an old lady with a knife, Kwon-joo takes over and talks to the younger woman who called and is hiding in a another room, watching everything happening in the living room.
Apparently the old woman is the landlord of a townhouse, and the younger woman who called in is a neighbor who went to talk to the old woman about a potential gas leak, since neighbors were complaining about the smell. Except the old woman is a hoarder, so when the woman entered the townhouse to talk to the old woman, the terrible smell seemed to come more from the garbage. When the concerned neighbor picked up some of the trash, the old woman started to hit her so the woman ran to safety in the bedroom.
At that moment, the old woman’s tenant arrived, brandishing a knife, demanding she give him money, because if she sells the place out from under him, he has nowhere to go. The frightened neighbor whispers all these details to Kwon-joo, who dispatches Jin-hyuk and Dae-shik to the townhouse as she begins the Golden Time clock.
She asks the woman to point her phone towards the where the man and old woman are, and Kwon-joo listens intently to the man’s desperate plea for money, ordering that the old woman hand over the deed to the place to him. If she doesn’t, he’ll kill her — or maybe he’ll kill himself, too, and demonstrates his sharp knife by slicing shallow cuts into his arm, leaving behind bloody marks.
By the time Dae-shik and Jin-hyuk arrive at the home, the local patrol are there, too. The local cops don’t think it’s a big deal — this argument will just end on it’s own. There’s no reason to get involved. Besides, they can’t get in because the front door is locked and there are bars on the windows.
Dae-shik and Jin-hyuk quietly remove the bars from the window and help the concerned neighbor out of the room so Jin-hyuk and Dae-shik can investigate. As Jin-hyuk recoils from the awful stench in the old woman’s home, Kwon-joo, after listening to the man, tells Jin-hyuk that based on the timbre and inflection in his voice, he’s not actually as aggressive as he’s pretending.
But he still wrestles with the old lady as he searches through her belongings (no easy task considering the hoarding chaos that surrounds them), and Jin-hyuk leaps forward to tackle the tenant. He easily brings him to the ground and takes the knife away, attesting the man. A mere ten minutes since the call came in, they’ve apprehended the suspect.
Dae-shik enters and sees the blood on the ground from the knife, but Jin-hyuk knows that it’s fake blood, having found the bottle in the man’s trash. He never actually cut his arm — it was just a ruse to convince the old woman he really meant business. The tenant begs with the cops as they try to take him away, telling them he was just desperate to keep his place after she’d ordered him to leave, but he can’t find anything he can afford. He blames the old lady, who’s got plenty of money, for ruining the lives of poor people like himself.
The local cops tell the old woman that she’ll have to come down to the station as well, but she refuses. Jin-hyuk tries to persuade her, and while everyone’s attention is on her, the tenant makes a break to the bedroom where he desperately digs through the belongings to find something. He stops and freaks out when he sees someone staring at him through the slats in the closet door.
Dae-shik tells him to get a grip, but the man keeps screaming that there’s an eye staring at him. Jin-hyuk goes to investigate, opening the closet door — where a body, wrapped in plastic like a mummy, falls out. Everyone recoils in horror as they stare at the dead body the old woman has been hoarding.
Well, that’s one image that’s going to haunt my dreams for the next week. Thanks a lot, show. And by “thanks a lot,” I mean “I wish I could bleach my brain.” The makeup team wins today’s MVP award for causing me to gasp and cringe as I covered my eyes at least twice in the same episode (and no, OCN, the vague censoring of a burned body doesn’t actually help my delicate sensibilities.)
I have to admit that I was starting to lose faith in the show for at least the first half of the episode. Those little common-sense weaknesses were beginning to become more and more obvious — or so I thought, at least, because I was frustrated that the cops would stop and let a suspect go to the bathroom. Haven’t they ever seen a movie before? Of course he’s going to make a break for it! Then I was in disbelief that there would be someone in the bathroom ready to kill Kyung-il — how could they possibly know where the vehicle was going to stop? And his jaw cracks! Of course it cracks! All the bad guys’ jaws crack! Even though I’m willing to accept minor flaws when I’m enjoying the story as a whole, I was struggling to wave away these awfully convenient coincidences.
Except, they weren’t exactly coincidences, were they? Well, I’m still suspicious about the jaw-cracking. But the rest were purposefully showcasing a deeper conspiracy, and for that I commend the show for subverting my expectations. That’s not to say the show is perfect with all its details. I mean, I’m still a little confused about how much time is passing unless the “golden time” clock is ticking — or maybe I’m just jealous that Korea has super-awesome-amazing health care where people who’ve been in car accidents and nearly killed by being buried and thrown across rooms no longer even need even a token bandage on their foreheads (but only on the right side!) the day after their injury, and don’t even have a mark from a wound that’s less than 24 hours old. Yeah. Super jealous.
I’m also glad that it seems like Chief Jang is one of the dirty cops, but that’s probably because I never liked him anyway, so he’s an easy villain to hate. As is Commissioner Bae, although I don’t think he’s evil so much as he’s an egotistical and just wants the glory and praise of being in charge. Detective Gu also raised my suspicious-meter, but I think he’s just actually that inept.
As for the mysterious man in black… hmmm… he’s definitely a bad guy, but I’m still not convinced that he’s the bad guy, even though the show desperately wants to persuade us that he is. Honestly, though — if they wanted me to be fooled by all their red herrings, then they shouldn’t have given me any sort of glimpse of the real Kettlebell Killer! Even though the two men may both wear black and crack their jaws, I know that our human trafficking baddie does not have the same cheekbones as the Kettlebell Killer (then again, not many people do, anyway). Even though I’m stubbornly insisting that it’s not the same man, I will admit there’s definitely a connection.
There’s also a connected between the man in black and the current case/cliffhanger. I’m betting the townhouse that the man in black was talking about when he found out about Jin-hyuk and Kwon-joo is actually this old woman’s house, and GP Development probably has a lot invested in buying up the land in this slum area of town. I’m even convinced they paid the tenant to find a way to forcefully take the deed from the old lady, since he never really intended to cut her (or at least I assume he didn’t, since he only pretending to cut himself). Or maybe the tenant is really in dire straits and genuinely stressed that he’s about to lose the only place he can afford since she’s agreed to sell it to the man in black. Either way, it’s all related, and it’s shady as heck.