Mystery Queen: Episode 8
Although Ho-soon appears to be innocuously eloping with her boyfriend, Seol-ok’s senses are telling her a very different story, and it’s up to our heroine to rescue her sister-in-law from a potential abduction. Luckily, Seol-ok is not alone in all of this, and she has a trustworthy (albeit somewhat annoying) veteran detective who’s got her back.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Filming in the studio, expert profiler Inspector Woo discusses the serial killer No Doo-gil and the way he baits his unsuspecting victims: First, he plays the role of a doting boyfriend, promising to elope with his “girlfriend” to the U.S., and then at the airport, he pretends to switch plans and lures her to an island — after that, the “girlfriend” is never heard from again.
In the present, Seol-ok explains to Wan-seung that this is No Doo-gil’s modus operandi. She frets over losing her phone, recalling that she had a picture of the criminal on it, but Wan-seung just whips out his phone and easily finds No Doo-gil’s wanted poster, bragging that this is one of the perks of being a veteran detective. He reminds Seol-ok again that he’s helping her while not-so-subtly asking that she return the favor some day, but Seol-ok just comments sarcastically that it must be really nice to be a veteran detective.
After discovering that Ho-soon boarded the ferry with a man named Cha Min-woo, Seol-ok and Wan-seung realize that they can check the ferry’s surveillance cameras to see if he’s No Doo-gil. Unfortunately, not a single CCTV camera catches the man’s face, leading Seol-ok to conclude that Ho-soon’s boyfriend knows exactly where the CCTV cameras are.
During the filming of Inspector Woo’s episode on No Doo-gil, a mysterious man had been standing behind the staff, eerily watching the expert profiler from afar. At a brief commercial break, the man had approached Inspector Woo, asking for an autograph — strange for even the most devoted of fans, considering that the show was in the middle of a live broadcast.
On Oido Island, Wan-seung reassures Seol-ok that due to the recent violence in the area, secret CCTV cameras have been newly installed, so there’s no way that Ho-soon’s boyfriend would know about them. Wan-seung spots one of the new CCTV cameras at a café, and lo and behold, Ho-soon and her boyfriend did indeed pass by this very café.
Wan-seung points out that the boyfriend’s face is different from No Doo-gil’s, but Seol-ok is unconvinced — a modus operandi is like a culprit’s fingerprints, she says. Looking at how lovey-dovey Ho-soon is with her boyfriend, Wan-seung suggests that they’re just another eloping couple, since he believes that Seol-ok is overreacting.
The scene cuts back to Inspector Woo’s episode on No Doo-gil, which was filmed three years ago. As Inspector Woo had been explaining that the way a person walks is like the fingerprint of the body, he had noticed the mysterious “fan” walking away — in the exact splay-footed, circular motion that was characteristic of No Doo-gil.
Leaving the café, Seol-ok wonders aloud if No Doo-gil had gotten plastic surgery, and Wan-seung scoffs at the idea. Suddenly, Seol-ok recalls Inspector Woo’s description of No Doo-gil’s walking mannerisms and demands that Wan-seung give her his phone.
Wan-seung hands it to her and heads back to the café, only to make a sharp U-turn as soon as he spots Ji-won. It seems like she’s tracked him down all the way to the island, and she calls out to him sharply: “Ha Wan-seung!”
At the lunchbox store, a tipsy Kyung-suk can’t stop bragging about her son Ho-chul, and Kyung-mi can barely resist rolling her eyes at her friend’s ridiculous mother-in-law. Kyung-mi finally gets a chance to step away when Seol-ok calls her using Wan-seung’s phone to ask her to send the clip of No Doo-gil’s walking style.
Seol-ok hangs up and frets, thinking that there must be something else that could help her determine whether or not Ho-soon’s boyfriend is No Doo-gil. Suddenly, an idea pops into her head, and she rushes to the café to look for Wan-seung.
Unfortunately, Wan-seung is currently occupied with other matters — he’s relocated to another part of the island with Ji-won, and he asks her why she followed him all the way here. Ji-won wonders if she actually likes Wan-seung, and he smirks at that before pointing out that she’s not the kind of woman who lives for a man’s affection.
Wan-seung adds that he’s not going to marry her, and Ji-won agrees, offering to just date instead. Wan-seung sighs, and she gets the point, saying that she understands now why she followed him all the way here. She walks away briskly and brushes Wan-seung off when he calls after her, telling him that she doesn’t want to hear it.
At the café, Seol-ok zooms in on No Doo-gil’s ear on the picture in Wan-seung’s phone, and then zooms in on Cha Min-woo’s ear on the surveillance footage. Seol-ok gasps when she realizes that they’re exactly the same, and she hurriedly asks the café’s owner if there’s another island nearby.
We see Ho-soon and Cha Min-woo walking to that very island via a narrow strip of land, with Ho-soon still thinking that she’s on a romantic date. Min-woo asks Ho-soon if she can really detect lies just by looking at someone’s expression, and when Ho-soon affirms it, he tells her that he loves her. She giggles but tells him that she won’t be able to tell if he’s lying or not — even an expert like her can’t detect lies when she’s blinded by love.
At the beginning of the path to the smaller island, Seol-ok notes the sign that warns visitors about the short tide duration. Suddenly, she spots the couple from afar and sprints through the mud, doing her best to catch up to the oblivious Ho-soon. Seol-ok slips and gets caked in mud as she desperately yells to Ho-soon that her boyfriend is the notorious No Doo-gil, but to no avail.
Only now does Wan-seung realize that Seol-ok’s gone off on her own, and he quickly places a call to Team Leader Kwang-tae using the café’s phone. Kwang-tae tells Wan-seung that there’s no information on Cha Min-woo — he’s a dead person. Shocked, Wan-seung tells Kwang-tae to locate his phone immediately and hangs up before Kwang-tae can even muster in a complaint.
On the smaller island, Min-woo pours Ho-soon a glass of wine as she talks about her first love. One night, she says, her crush had approached her with a bouquet of flowers and trembled as he asked her: “When is Seol-ok coming?” (Ouch.) When Ho-soon had come home crying, Ho-chul had then asked her worriedly, “Where’s Seol-ok?” Ho-soon recalls how much she had hated Seol-ok then before she asks Min-woo about his first love.
Gently brushing her hair aside, Min-woo tells Ho-soon that his first love is dead. Taken aback, Ho-soon apologizes for bringing up a painful memory, but Min-woo just reassures her that he’s fine because he has her now. At that, Ho-soon rests her head on Min-woo’s shoulder, thanking him for only loving her.
Slowly, Ho-soon’s vision grows fuzzy and her head begins to spin, but she’s none the wiser about her precarious situation. The moment Ho-soon falls completely unconscious, Min-woo smirks evilly before slinging her body across his back. Meanwhile, Wan-seung is still running around the big island to look for Seol-ok while Seol-ok herself is running around the small island looking for Ho-soon.
Min-woo brings Ho-soon down to his hideout, where he’s apparently buried all the other women he kidnapped before. He begins digging a shallow hole for Ho-soon’s grave, when suddenly, he stops and peers over the shrubbery as if he’s seen something unusual.
Seol-ok makes her way to Min-woo’s hideout and notes that no one’s around. She calls out frantically to Ho-soon while trying to avoid alerting Min-woo of her presence, but it’s no use — Ho-soon is out cold. That leaves Seol-ok with no choice but to physically drag Ho-soon away; but before Seol-ok even manages to take two steps, a shovel hits her across the back, knocking her out too.
On the big island, Wan-seung makes a call to Kwang-tae using a fisherman’s cellphone and realizes that Seol-ok’s on the small island. He peers closely at the signboard that Seol-ok had looked at before and sees that Seol-ok had left him a note: “No Doo-gil is on Mong Island.”
On Mong Island, No Doo-gil/Min-woo talks to an unconscious Seol-ok, commenting that he hopes she’s not a screamer or anything. He creepily explains that he’s hated the sound of girls crying ever since he was young, and then notes that it’s not like it matters even if she does scream — no one ever comes around here anyway.
Min-woo proceeds to lift a wooden board off the ground, revealing a hidden hole below. Peering at the skeleton inside, he tells the unconscious Seol-ok that ideally, he would’ve dug another hole for her, but since she was an unexpected interruption in his plans, she’ll just have to share. He tosses her into the hole, and Seol-ok lies there, senseless.
Meanwhile, Wan-seung has managed to convince a local fisherman to bring him to Mong Island, making sure to remind the fisherman to call the police as soon as he gets back. Wan-seung makes his way into the island and shouts for Seol-ok, not knowing that Min-woo is burying her alive at that very moment.
After wandering around for a bit, Wan-seung collapses on the ground, tired from his trek. Suddenly, he realizes that there’s something strange about the ground he’s been lying on — it’s not real ground, but tarp. He lifts the tarp up and begins frantically digging, unveiling the skeletal remains of another victim.
Suddenly, Wan-seung is hit across the head with a shovel, and he falls to the ground, groaning in pain. Min-woo prepares to strike again, but Wan-seung kicks him and knocks him over, complaining that the blow opened up his old head wound again.
Grabbing the shovel from Min-woo, Wan-seung easily takes him down and demands to know where Seol-ok is, describing her as the short-haired, super fast, cute-looking ajumma. (Aww.) Grinning evilly, Min-woo tells Wan-seung that he just finished burying her, and taking advantage of Wan-seung’s panicked reaction, Min-woo grabs a nearby rock and clocks him in the head with it.
Wan-seung reels in pain as Min-woo runs away, and though Wan-seung tries to give chase, he ultimately loses the killer. Wan-seung does stumble across Min-woo’s hideout though, and upon seeing the partially covered hole, Wan-seung jumps in and starts digging desperately with his bare hands, screaming for Seol-ok.
He frantically brushes the dirt away when he gets to her downward-facing body and flips her over — and Seol-ok wheezes for oxygen (thank goodness!). Wan-seung pulls her up and pats her back as she coughs, both of them exclaiming that they thought she’d die.
Seol-ok asks after Ho-soon, and they climb out of the hole only to see Min-woo holding a knife at the throat of Ho-soon’s unconscious body. Seol-ok pleads with Min-woo to calm down, and Wan-seung addresses him as No Doo-gil, telling him that he’s finished.
Enraged, Min-woo yells that he’s not No Doo-gil anymore and tries to stab Ho-soon, but Wan-seung jumps in and diverts the attack, forcing Min-woo to land on his back and lose the knife. The two men tussle for a bit, but Wan-seung easily gains the upper hand and throws in a few gratifying punches before knocking Min-woo out cold.
Wan-seung and Seol-ok slowly make their way back via the path that’s opened up again after the tides have settled, both of them dragging wheelbarrows behind them — a bounded Min-woo in Wan-seung’s, and a still unconscious Ho-soon in Seol-ok’s. Wan-seung tells Seol-ok that there’s no need to thank him since he just did what he had to as a detective, and Seol-ok just says that she’s not particularly thankful, ha.
Wan-seung snaps that he brought her back to life (so much for not needing to thank him), and Seol-ok retorts that Wan-seung’s only caused trouble for her, arguing that if Wan-seung hadn’t knocked Min-woo out, then Wan-seung could be the one carrying Ho-soon instead.
While on the topic of Min-woo, Wan-seung remembers to ask Seol-ok how she realized that Min-woo was No Doo-gil, and she points out that even though he got plastic surgery, his ear stayed the same — it’s long and droopy. Wan-seung turns around to confirm it and remarks that she’s right.
On the big island, Ji-won sits by her car, holding Seol-ok’s phone in her hand as she sighs. Checking the phone’s call history, she notices several missed calls from Ho-chul and impulsively decides to call his number. The call connects, and Ho-chul, thinking it’s Seol-ok, immediately asks where she is, but Ji-won just listens on with an unreadable expression on her face.
Wan-seung and Seol-ok are still bickering about whether he saved her life, so when Seol-ok trips and falls, Wan-seung just laughs and pettily tells her that it’s karma for refusing to admit that he’s her lifesaver. Suddenly, Wan-seung turns earnest and sincerely asks Seol-ok to grant him a favor: He wants her to give a testimony on the Jang Do-jang case by tomorrow. She nods, and they continue making their way towards the big island.
As soon as they get there though, the media swarms around Wan-seung and barrages him with questions. It turns out that, after Wan-seung had told the fisherman to report No Doo-gil’s location to the cops, Inspector Woo’s TV crew had found out about the report immediately. That means that Wan-seung has to film a live interview for the show — a crew member urges him not to be nervous, but Wan-seung can only stammer in response.
Interviewing from the studio, Inspector Woo asks Wan-seung how he was able to recognize No Doo-gil when he got plastic surgery. Wan-seung starts to credit Seol-ok for her discovery and turns around to her, but she firmly shakes her head no, not wanting to be captured on TV.
That leaves Wan-seung to rattle off the lines he remembers Seol-ok reciting from the show, and in his nervousness, he mixes the logic up a bit: “A person’s way of walking is like a fingerprint. So no matter how much plastic surgery he had done, he still had short earlobes, which led me to conclude that he was No Doo-gil,” Wan-seung says. Ha.
At the substation, Earnest Cop and Slacker Cop are amazed that Wan-seung’s on TV. Joon-oh comments that the woman behind Wan-seung looks awfully similar to Seol-ok, and Earnest Cop denies it, pointing out that she has no reason to be with Wan-seung — and on an island, at that.
Still in the midst of the interview, Inspector Woo asks Wan-seung if he’s a fan of the show, and Wan-seung stutters that he truly respects Inspector Woo as a police officer. Inspector Woo then asks if there’s anything more that Wan-seung wants to say, and Wan-seung hesitates a bit before cornily breaking out Inspector Woo’s signature finger-gun move, replete with his signature phrase: “I’ll arrest you.”
Also watching this on TV is Wan-seung’s father, CEO Ha, who seems equal parts confused and embarrassed by his son’s actions. CEO Ha’s secretary reports that he’s taken care of “it” in a way that means that the district office won’t say anything, and CEO Ha just puts on his glasses to get back to work.
In the ambulance, Seol-ok teases Wan-seung for his cheesy comments on TV, and Wan-seung complains that he wasn’t given enough time to prepare for the interview. Seol-ok wonders why Ho-soon is sleeping for so long, but Wan-seung just says that the paramedics said she’d be fine, so it’s best to just leave her be for now.
When Ho-soon comes to at the hospital, she immediately asks for Min-woo. Seol-ok candidly begins to tells Ho-soon that he’s at the police station right now, but Wan-seung stops her from telling Ho-soon the truth, lying that Min-woo is being chased by creditors. Seol-ok goes along with it.
Ho-soon reminds Seol-ok that she’s an expert at detecting lies, and before Seol-ok can say much, the TV behind them starts airing the news about No Doo-gil. Seol-ok rushes to turn the TV off, but it’s too late — Ho-soon has already found out that her boyfriend is a serial killer.
Later, Ho-soon stares despondently into space as Seol-ok frets, wondering why Ho-soon had to fall in love with a murderer of all people. Wan-seung tells Seol-ok that love is just like that, and Seol-ok argues that love is just a feeling created by hormones. Seol-ok believes that love is something that can be controlled with a strong enough will, and Wan-seung responds that people only live like this because they can’t help it.
He steps aside to pick up a call from Kwang-tae, who ribs him for his interview with Inspector Woo, and it looks like Wan-seung’s never going to hear the end of it from his colleagues. Kwang-tae tells Wan-seung excitedly that after the interview, the section chief is now desperately asking after Wan-seung.
Wanting to keep the good momentum going, Kwang-tae asks about Seol-ok’s testimony, and Wan-seung reassures him that they’re definitely going to have it by tomorrow morning. Later, Seol-ok approaches Wan-seung to ask about Jang Do-jang, and Wan-seung reminds her again that he saved her life — in fact, it’s happened twice now, he adds.
Meanwhile, Ji-won finally gets home and looks into the vanity mirror as she heaves a sigh, pityingly asking herself, “How did you end up like this?”
Now leaving the hospital, Seol-ok readily agrees to testify for Wan-seung tomorrow, commenting that a bad guy like Jang Do-jang shouldn’t be given the chance to get away. Wan-seung thanks her gratefully for her dedication to justice and even agrees to stop calling her “ajumma” all the time; he immediately switches to “Seol-ok-ssi,” which thoroughly weirds Seol-ok out, enough for her to ask to be called “ajumma” again, ha.
Outside, as Seol-ok tries to catch a cab for the trio, Wan-seung takes a seat next to Ho-soon to give her some advice. He reminds her that she’s lucky to be alive — and in fact, she wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for Seol-ok risking her own life to save Ho-soon’s. Though Ho-soon scoffs at first, Wan-seung’s words resonate with her, and she glances over at Seol-ok.
At the police station, Wan-seung is greeted by all his colleagues for a job well done, and even the section chief comes out to personally compliment Wan-seung. Wan-seung says he’ll be late to the team dinner since he has more important matters to attend to, and he drags Dong-ki off.
He forces Dong-ki to change outfits with him, saying that there’s no way he could go see Jang Do-jang in his muddied tux. Wan-seung rushes off, and the scene cuts to him sitting by Jang’s holding cell, practicing Inspector Woo’s signature “I’ll arrest you” move, as he comments that it’s getting pretty addicting.
Purposefully pushing Jang’s buttons, Wan-seung says that he’ll make sure that Jang rots in that cell forever, adding that they have a lot to discuss. Jang laughs menacingly, but as soon as Wan-seung turns around, that menacing laugh turns into a cold, hard stare.
When Seol-ok and Ho-soon arrive home, Ho-chul immediately tells Ho-soon off for asking Seol-ok to help with her thesis (the cover-up lie). Ho-soon scoffs in disbelief and stalks off, leaving Seol-ok to explain that Ho-soon is having a hard time lately.
As Seol-ok tells Ho-chul that she must’ve misplaced her phone somewhere, she notices his eyes staring at her muddied clothes, and she nervously hides her jacket. Luckily for her, Ho-chul doesn’t ask any more questions and just offers to buy her a new phone, but he’s definitely suspicious about what she’s been up to.
Dong-ki and Kwang-tae toast to Wan-seung’s reinstatement at the team dinner, as well as to Wan-seung’s reassurance that Seol-ok will testify against Jang. At the end of the night, a tipsy Wan-seung makes his way home, only to find out that his house has been boarded up and scheduled for demolition.
He knows exactly who’s done this though, and he marches straight to CEO Ha’s house, stopping right in front of his father’s car. Staring his father down, Wan-seung demands to know why CEO Ha ordered the demolition of his house.
CEO Ha just gives a vague answer and adds that it’s time for Wan-seung to return to his rightful place, explaining that he wants Wan-seung to inherit Ha & Jung because nothing is better than blood. Wan-seung spits back that for him, blood is worse than being a stranger. He threatens to show CEO Ha what he’s really made of from now on, and CEO Ha just comments that there’s nothing a person like Wan-seung could do.
At night, Ho-chul has rummaged through Seol-ok’s items while she was sleeping and discovered the ferry ticket for two adults. He recalls her muddy clothes, and his suspicions deepen.
I’m really loving the platonic bond that’s developed between Seol-ok and Wan-seung — it’s not obvious when we always see them bickering, but their concern and respect for one another come out in the important moments, like when Wan-seung was frantically trying to dig Seol-ok out, or when Seol-ok’s immediate thought was to look for Wan-seung for help, even though she had just complained about him following her around all day. Wan-seung might be a bit gruff on the outside, but he clearly has a soft side to him, especially when Seol-ok’s in danger.
One thing that has me a bit concerned for their blossoming friendship is the inevitable future misunderstandings that are constantly being hinted at — from Earnest Cop and Slacker Cop’s light comments about why Seol-ok and Wan-seung shouldn’t be together on an island alone, to Ji-won finding Seol-ok’s cellphone in her car, to Ho-chul finding the ferry ticket. I do wonder if Ji-won had said anything to Ho-chul when she had placed the call; while I can’t tell if Ji-won’s going to be the evil second lead or just a sad second lead, it makes me wonder if she’s told Ho-chul something, which is why he keeps pressing the question about why Seol-ok wasn’t picking up her calls.
Honestly, I don’t sense anything romantic between Seol-ok and Wan-seung, but it did occur to me that perhaps Seol-ok and Wan-seung are bonding because they’re more similar than they think: both are stubborn and proud to a fault. These are characteristics that I’ve come to expect from Wan-seung, but it was hilarious how reluctant Seol-ok was to thank Wan-seung for saving her, going the extra mile to explain why she had most certainly not asked for him to come to the small island.
Interestingly enough, despite Wan-seung’s tough exterior, he gave some pretty insightful advice to both Seol-ok and Ho-soon today. I was a little surprised by Seol-ok’s take on falling in love — while it’s clear that a major part of her reason for marrying Ho-chul was to join the family, she had also seemed to be pretty in love with her husband. If Seol-ok doesn’t believe in falling in love, or she believes that you can control who you can fall in love with, then what does that mean about her relationship with Ho-chul? Did she force herself to love him because he was a part of the family that took her in? Or is there more to their love story than just that?
Wan-seung’s advice to Ho-soon was quite thoughtful too — you could see her dismissing his point at first, but then she actually reflected on the truth of it. Despite having met a serial killer for a boyfriend, Ho-soon’s actually quite lucky, because at the very least, she has Seol-ok on her side. Sometimes, we don’t see the fortunate things we have because we’re so focused on all of our misfortunes, and perhaps that’s why Ho-soon ended up developing that inferiority complex toward Seol-ok. If Ho-soon had known this earlier, perhaps she would’ve realized that the love she thinks she’s been deprived of because of Seol-ok was returned ten times more in the form of the love that Seol-ok has given her.