The gory and gruesome Golden Time cases take a turn for the truly horrific as the team races to once again save one of their own. It feels like with every step closer to figuring out who the killer might be, it’s three steps back, but perhaps the team is finally on the right track — or perhaps they’re purposefully being led astray by someone more powerful (and dangerous) than they can imagine.
Chapter 8: “The Secret of the Trash House — Eyes Inside the Wall Part 3”
It’s eighteen minutes after Jin-hyuk was first attacked, and the Golden Time Team manages to pinpoint the area where he’s likely being held. The Violent Crimes Unit race off to help Dae-shik track down Jin-hyuk, where he dangles in the meatpacking warehouse owned by the Good Friend gangsters. Jin-hyuk taunts the men, telling them that their attempt to beat him up was laughable, which only serves to irritate them.
Jin-hyuk’s arms may be tied up, but his legs aren’t, so when one of the men approaches him to threaten him, Jin-hyuk takes the opportunity to knock him out with a few swift kicks. He then uses the unconscious man’s body as a step stool to free himself from the butcher’s hook.
Also tied up in the warehouse is the traitorous informant Tabloid, who pleads with Jin-hyuk to save him — he promises to never betray him again! Jin-hyuk advances while wielding a knife, but it’s just to give it to Tabloid so he can cut free from his bonds.
As Jin-hyuk staggers to another area of the warehouse, the thugs arrive, knives at the ready. But Jin-hyuk only wants to know where their boss is — the man in block. This time he ruthlessly fights off the thugs, disarming them as he throws them across the room. He’s a man on a mission and they’re just blocking his way.
Dae-shik reports back to Kwon-joo that he’s now at the nearby livestock market. It’s been twenty minutes since the attack, which means, per the “golden time” rule, Jin-hyuk is likely in real danger. Kwon-joo tries to think of any clue that would lead them to Jin-hyuk. She recalls Chun-ok describing a distinct spicy smell from the men who killed Bok-soon, and then focuses on trying to figure out what Kyung-il was attempting to tell her right before he died.
She asks her team to look up the word “zi ran,” but Eun-soo already knows that it’s the Chinese name for “cumin,” which is often used in in lamb dishes. Kwon-joo orders Dae-shik to look for a place that would sell lamb skewers, or any place that would have a strong scent of cumin. Dae-shik and the other detectives race through the nearby Chinatown as they try to figure out where Jin-hyuk might be.
Meanwhile, Jin-hyuk continues his mission to get to the man in black. With some nifty action moves, he repeatedly takes down one bad guy after another as they attempt to stop him, like they’re minor hurdles along his way to reach the boss battle in a video game.
Finally, he takes out the last of the guards and limps down the hallway to where the man in black should be — but stops in his tracks when a gun is pressed against his temple. It’s the man in black with his most loyal bodyguard thug.
Dae-shik and the other men find a source for the spicy lamb smell and they prepare to enter the building, their guns at the ready. Back at the call center, Kwon-joo listens intently as the men enter.
The man in black taunts Jin-hyuk, letting him know that he’ll end things here and let Jin-hyuk join his wife. But Jin-hyuk just laughs, telling the man in black that he’s going to kill him as payment for all the lives the man has ruined. Just as the man orders the bodyguard to shoot, Jin-hyuk spins around to disarm him and knock him to the ground.
He then grabs the man in black and pins him up against the wall, using his knife to repeatedly stab him in the hand. The man is able to push Jin-hyuk aside, yelling for his bodyguard to shoot, but just then Dae-shik and the Violent Crimes Unit arrive. The man in black and his bodyguard flee as Chief Jang (who fires a warning shot) and the others pursue him, but Dae-shik’s primary concern is his injured partner.
He calls for paramedics, which Kwon-joo has already dispatched, and then she worriedly asks how Jin-hyuk is — and if the man in black is really the killer they’ve been after. As he catches his breath, Jin-hyuk radios back that the man in black is indeed the killer they’ve been looking for — he confessed it from his own mouth. He tells her not to worry about his injuries and instead focus on tracking the man down.
The man in black and his bodyguard manage to escape, though. The Violent Crimes detectives reassure Jin-hyuk that they’ve got an APB out for the car’s license plate, so they’ll find them soon.
Back at the call center, Commissioner Bae is relieved to hear Jin-hyuk is safe, but he’s also annoyed that Jin-hyuk managed to cause all this ruckus in the first place. Kwon-joo defends him, reminding the Commissioner that if the rest of the police force supported Jin-hyuk when he investigated Kyung-il, then Jin-hyuk wouldn’t have been out there on his own and he wouldn’t have been abducted in the first place.
Commissioner Bae bristles at her accusations, reminding her that he ordered
her to never mention Kyung-il again. But she stubbornly informs him that the man in black is related to that case, and that even when policemen are afraid of what will happen to them (because they’re still human), they still continually sacrifice themselves to protect the community. Commissioner Bae wordlessly leaves the call center control room and I give a little fist-pump in celebration of Kwon-joo standing up for her team.
When Chief Jang tells Jin-hyuk that the man in black got away, Jin-hyuk just eyes him carefully as he tells the chief that losing a suspect once is bad luck, but more than once it starts to set a precedent — a very suspicious one at that. The detectives are confident they’ll find him, since they’ve relayed the information to the rest of the police stations as well as the media, which means the man in black — or Nam Sang-tae — is a wanted man whose face is making headline news for the death of Bok-soon and other crimes. He won’t be able to get very far without being recognized.
In a fancy private club, a CEO of a development company tries to persuade one of Sungun’s government officials that they should be able to build a road and large bus center, instead of the other company that won the bid. The government official is nervous and hesitant as CEO MO casually offers bribes that would make it worth his while.
The CEO’s son smoothly points out that it’s time for the government official to start thinking about his own future, not just the neighborhood of Sungun. Oh hey, I recognize that face! It’s Kim Jae-wook, or should I say MO TAE-GU, and he politely excuses himself to take a phone call.
Back at the police station, Young-woon and Chun-ok are reunited in an interrogation room, and the bewildered and childlike Young-woon pleads for her to take off his handcuffs. She sadly says that he must be patient until the police find out what really happened.
A flashback reveals that Young-woon was in the room as Bok-soon fought against Sang-tae’s men as they tried to force her to sign away her townhome. When she refused, they tried to get Young-woon, with his large body and strength, to force her to sign, but due to his injured hand, he wasn’t able to hold her. In the end, one of the thugs grabbed the metal lamp and struck her against the head, killing her. Young-woon’s shock as he kneeled next to her, holding her, is how he got Bok-soon’s blood all over her hands. The evidence of the blood on his hands will mean he’ll be charged as an accessory nonetheless.
As soon as the detectives return to the station, Kwon-joo hurries down to make sure Jin-hyuk is okay. He reassures her there’s no reason to worry, but he thanks her for tracking him down so quickly. There’s no time to waste, though, as he heads up a briefing on everything they’ve managed to find about Sang-tae. Kwon-joo realizes that Sang-tae can’t be the person who killed her father because Sang-tae is in his forties, and voice she heard that night was from a younger man.
When she sees Chun-ok in the hallway, she slips out of the briefing room to see if there’s anything she needs. Chun-ok gratefully thanks her for everything she’s done to help them, but Kwon-joo tells her that they owe her thanks for helping them capture most of the Good Friend gang. Kwon-joo’s worried that Chun-ok and Young-woon won’t have a place to live, since the townhouse is now a crime scene, but Chun-ok reassures her she has a friend who will take her in.
Chun-ok starts to tear up at Kwon-joo’s thoughtfulness as the younger promises to do everything she can to support Chun-ok and her brother. The old woman promises to bring Kwon-joo a homemade rice drink — it’s the only thing she can offer as repayment. Kwon-joo sweetly tells her that she will enjoy it, but worriedly watches Chun-ok slowly leave the station as she repeatedly bows her thanks.
Later, Kwon-joo tells Jin-hyuk that the voice she heard can’t be the same as Sang-tae. Jin-hyuk points out that Sang-tae confessed, plus his jaw makes the odd crackling sound. That’s pretty damning evidence. Jin-hyuk then asks to listen to the copy of the recording from that night, hesitating slightly before pressing play since it also means listening to the last words his wife ever spoke.
He pauses to steady himself after listening to his wife beg for her life, and then, with a clenched fist, forces himself to focus on the sounds. Finally he has to admit that he can’t hear what Kwon-joo hears. At this point, since they don’t know what really happened, it’ll be best if they wait for the cops to find Sang-tae and bring him in. That might be sooner rather than later, since a report comes in just then that someone who looks like Sang-tae’s bodyguard was seen near the harbor.
As Tae-gu and his father leave the club, CEO Mo tells his son that they can’t be found to have any associations with Sang-tae or else this business deal will fall through. Tae-gu promises he’ll take care of it, and his father hesitantly asks if he’s somehow involved with the mess surrounding Sang-tae, but Tae-gu swiftly denies it.
The detectives pull up to the harbor and start searching the area. Sang-tae’s bodyguard tells him that they must have been spotted on a CCTV when he went to get some food for them. Right now they’re trapped in their dingy motel room, but when Tae-gu calls him, Sang-tae desperately tells him that he’ll figure a way out of this.
He starts to stutter as Tae-gu calmly asks if Sang-tae wants him to tighten the screw in his jaw (like, a literal screw? Because that could that explain the crackling), and looks downright terrified when Tae-gu says that if Sang-tae doesn’t take care of it, he’ll prepare the “special treatment.”
As Dae-shik and Jin-hyuk ask the motel owner if he’s seen Sang-tae, Tae-gu continues his drive, calmly enjoying the classical music pouring from the speakers. He slams on the breaks as a car pulls out in front of him — it’s one of the Violent Crimes detectives. The detective apologizes for not seeing him before merging, but Tae-gu just blocks the man’s way and stares at him.
The more intently Tae-gu stares, the more the man’s face changes until suddenly his mouth is covered with a horrifying layer of skin. Tae-gu smiles in satisfaction as he drives away, but it was all in Tae-gu’s mind, since the man just wonders in bewilderment at the arrogant way the guy in the black car acted, grumbling that it’s a shame he’s a cop and has to mind his manners.
A couple of the emergency call center agents are taking a coffee break and gossiping about the other workers, especially Hyun-ho and the speculation that his family is rich. When Eun-soo gets her cup of coffee, they ask her what she thinks about Hyun-ho, and she pointedly tells them that if they want to know more about him, they should ask him directly. It’s nice that she refuses to get caught up in their gossip while also sticking up for her teammate.
The townhouse, now devoid of bodies and police, is cordoned off as a crime scene. Chun-ok slips past the “do not enter” police tape and hesitantly makes her way into the darkened apartment. She carefully sets up a simple memorial for Bok-soon, apologizing that it’s taken her so long. She tells Bok-soon that she hopes she’ll be able to rest in peace while Chun-ok promises to spend the rest of her life repenting for what happened. She starts to cry just as someone enters the apartment — it’s the Kettlebell Killer, hidden from view in his long coat and hood. Uh-oh.
Kwon-joo studies Sang-tae’s file, wondering if he’s really the one she’s been searching for after all. He fits the profile, so it seems like an obvious conclusion.
But the Kettlebell Killer has a new victim as Chun-ok, her head bloody from the first blow of the kettlebell, scrambles to try and escape him. He takes her phone and dials the emergency number. Hyun-ho answers, but the line is silent. However he recognizes the number from Chun-ok’s profile, and asks if she’s okay.
The killer tells Chun-ok to say she needs help, and as Hyun-ho hurries to track her GPS, the killer hangs up. Hyun-ho reports the phone call to Kwon-joo, adding that her something seems weird. Kwon-joo tries calling Chun-ok’s phone directly but there’s no answer — the killer is too busy dealing another blow to his victim.
Kwon-joo orders Dae-shik and Jin-hyuk to head to the townhouse, and she also decides to go there, undoubtedly moved by the personal connection she’s made with the old woman. Meanwhile, Chun-ok is barely alive as she gasps for breath and blood runs down her face. The killer, with his trademark crackling jaw, asks her if she’s ever seen someone get beheaded. With a sense of wonder in his voice, he describes the incredible amount of blood that comes out of the person until it suddenly stops when the blood is finally drained.
Chun-ok asks him if he thinks she’ll actually beg him, a crazy maniac, for her life. But he tells her he already gave her a second chance by turning her into Bok-soon. Not even God can give her that kind of new life — she should have accepted that gift! He just laughs when she gasps that he’ll pay for his sins, telling her that there’s no heaven and that he’s the only judge who matters. Then he bludgeons her to death.
Dae-shik and Jin-hyuk arrive at the townhouse the same time as Kwon-joo. With their guns drawn, the three of them carefully enter. It’s completely quiet and dark — too dark, actually, because the lights won’t turn on. Using their flashlights, they search the rooms but don’t see anything particularly unusual. But something catches Dae-shik’s eye — it’s the same closet where they found the real Bok-soon wrapped in plastic.
Ripping down the “caution” tape, they enter the bedroom. The awful smell and a large pool of blood coming from the closet are a good tip-off that something isn’t right. Dae-shik carefully opens the closet doors, only to leap back in horror when he sees Chun-ok’s body, pale and drained of blood, pinned to the wall as though she were nailed to a crucifix, with a wide Joker-esque smile cut into her face.
The grisly sight shocks all three of them, but as Jin-hyuk radios for a forensics team, Kwon-joo recognizes the shape of the wound on Chun-ok’s head — it’s the same as the ones found on Dong-chul, her father, and Jin-hyuk’s wife. Written on the wall (in blood, ew), is the Bible verse Luke 17:29, “But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.”
She’s convinced Chun-ok was killed due to her cooperation with the police. She radios Hyun-ho, asking him to look into the Bible verse and other cases where fragments of mirror were left in front of the victim. Dae-shik and Jin-hyuk explore the surrounding area, searching for a sign of someone fleeing the scene.
Just then the lights turn on in the apartment, much to Kwon-joo’s surprise. She investigates the fuse box where it’s revealed the lights were on a timer. She quickly deduces that, since the call was made at 9:10pm, they arrived at 9:13pm, and the lights turned on exactly at 9:15pm, that the Chun-ok was killed hours ago and the murderer is merely toying with them right now.
Forty-five minutes later, the police and forensics team have once again filled the townhouse. Unfortunately, there isn’t much evidence that points towards the killer — the only footprints are those of the detectives who arrived later, and there aren’t any finger prints. The forensics chief marvels at the grotesque creativity of a psychotic criminal who would be so meticulous as he set the scene.
Just then the detectives discover Sang-tae’s fingerprints on Chun-ok’s phone. It looks like they’ve found proof he’s the culprit after all. Chief Jang reports back to Commissioner Bae, who then immediately calls someone else, letting them know the fingerprint was found.
Kwon-joo believes the murderer is just toying with them. Replaying the call in her mind, she realizes the voices sounded like they came from a recording instead of live through the phone. That means the killer called the center only after everything had been prepared, since it’s impossible to stage the body and escape without notice in only three minutes.
She’s convinced that Sang-tae must be a complete psychopath for killing Chun-ok in addition to her father and Jin-hyuk’s wife, but Jin-hyuk isn’t so sure that it’s actually Sang-tae, even after Dae-shik informs him about the fingerprints. Jin-hyuk and Kwon-joo return to the station where he shows her Sang-tae’s thugs’ confessions about Bok-soon’s death, where they all independently reported he wanted to hide the body. That’s not exactly in line with a psychopathic murderer who would stage an elaborate scene for attention.
Meanwhile, Tae-gu’s father, CEO Mo, wearily tells his driver to figure out where Sang-tae is hiding and to get Commissioner Bae on the phone.
Hyun-ho delivers the information Kwon-joo asked for, and also turns out to be a huge fanboy of Jin-hyuk’s. So cute. But there’s a murderer to investigate, and Hyun-ho reveals that the mirror placed at the scene is likely a statement from the killer that the next victims will be the ones who are reflected in it — who are, of course, Kwon-joo and Jin-hyuk.
After all the whining about the last episode, it’s like the show suddenly decided to redeem itself. There was nothing “filler” about this episode, and while I still want to yell at the cameraman to stop dancing as he’s filming because the jerky camera movement gives me a headache (and makes it difficult to screencap), I have very few complaints about this episode. I love Jin-hyuk’s action scenes. I love that Kwon-joo continues to smartly deduce situations yet still remain intuitively aware of what the victims must be feeling. I love that the show finally surrendered their red herring that Sang-tae is the Kettlebell Killer. I love that it was Jin-hyuk who decided, despite the Sang-tae’s confession and crackling jaw, that Kwon-joo’s theory it’s someone else might have merit based on other quantifiable factors than just her super-hearing.
You know what else I love? Kim Jae-wook. His gorgeous cheekbones made up for the fact that I couldn’t watch the creepy and gory parts of the shows through my fingers. (My squeamish self couldn’t even put up a full screencap of Chun-ok’s body because it meant having to look at it again.) In fact, I’m really, really relieved that Kim Jae-wook finally made an appearance because I, as his self-declared #1 fan, recognized his jawline in the trailer and it’s been agonizing trying to pretend I don’t know who the Kettlebell Killer really is. Okay, yes, so the show still hasn’t officially told us that Tae-gu is the killer, but all the signs are there: the crazy sense of righteous punishment to those who have wronged him, however small (the hallucinatory flesh-mouth will serve a purpose, right? And not just to give me nightmares?); the utter terror he strikes in the hearts of despicable criminals as he threatens to punish them; the matching slim build of the killer. Oh, and have I mentioned the jawline? Because I’m not sure if it can be mentioned enough. Or studied enough. (Hey, it’s research!)
My enthusiasm for the show did dim a little the last couple of episodes. Even though I still found the show watchable and enjoyable, I no longer quite felt the pins-and-needles excitement that comes from being fully focused on the story and then desperately wondering what the next episode would bring. But now I’m all abuzz as I impatiently wait for the next episode, hoping that there will be both resolution and yet more cliffhangers. Yes, both, somehow, at the sam time. (Plus whatever it takes for me to keep Kim Jae-wook’s cheekbones on my screen for a little longer.)
I’m not even bothered that it looks like Jin-hyuk and Kwon-joo will be put in grave danger again because this time it actually makes sense. They are getting closer and closer to discovering the true identity of the person who killed their family members, which means they’re also getting closer to unearthing the corruption in the police force (which, presumably, we’ll learn more about, since at the moment all I know is that it must involve Chief Jang and Commissioner Bae).
Heck, I’m not even bothered that the villain is apparently a psychopathic chaebol son, because I’m pretty sure I haven’t encountered one quite this psychopathic. He considers himself to be not just like a god, but one who is more than a god, with the power and authority to give second chances at life as well as punish those who’ve sinned against him. While I’ve come to expect blood and gore on this show, the creative team definitely stepped it up a notch with this latest case. I’m hoping that the show will further explore the religious iconography of it all — was he punishing Chun-ok specifically because she regretted her decision for a new life as Bok-soon (and thus, like Lot’s life, looked back)? I also want to know if the obsession with mouths is coincidence. Not just because of the flesh-mouth hallucination, but also the fact that he cut Chun-ok’s mouth wider across her cheeks — and then, of course, the constant mystery behind all these crackling jaws. What I do know is that I’ll be watching next week’s episodes during the middle of the day and not right before bed.