Special Affairs Team TEN 2 - Episode 1 (Recap)

So, I've done it: I have in earnest decided to do a recap. This is a big moment, because I once swore there would be no recaps on this blog - mainly because I wanted this blog to be revolutionary different from other blogs (yeah ... good luck with that) - and because there are so many awesome recappers out there already (Marketing 101: don't compete in fields where you have nothing much to offer). Good thing I only swore this to myself so that breaking the vow comes with zero consequences. And breaking it was almost natural, not least because of how much fun working on the When A Man Loves SqueeCaps is. True, true, I'm only the giffer there, but still ... What, you don't care about all this at all? Yeah, figures. Stop justifying that you're recapping this to yourself, kakashi. Nobody cares.

Special Affairs Team TEN 2 - Episode 1 

Understand, Part 1

We are back to where we left off before the epilogue last season - the abandoned warehouse, a terrified Ye-ri (Jo Ahn) looking the killer in the face, screaming from the top of her lungs, as he starts wrapping duct tape around her head, muffling her screams.
And a voice over by Ji-hoon (Joo Sang-wook): 
"Things that should be remembered are forgotten. Things that should be forgotten are remembered... What irony. Thus, the past is still our homework. Like the unspoken promise of a year ago ... the story of that winter ... the warehouse incident from before. It all starts from somewhere."
(I cannot vouch for correctness, this is taken from the subs. Don't blame me if it sounds weird to you... It does to me, too! Could be deliberate, could be the subs) And rewind ... the same scene backwards so that it looks as if someone were unwrapping her head, followed by more fast flashbacks (some of which are in fact scenes from this very episode we are going to watch)...

... followed by a well-done summary of the last two episodes of Season 1. Everybody is up to date now!
And off we go (Squee! So excited ... Seriously, I haven't waited for a second Season of anything that much, ever). Do-Shik (Kim Sang-ho) and Min-ho (Choi Woo-shik) sit in their enormous quasi-empty new office, discussing Ji-hoon's disappearance... (I notice immediately that Choi Woo-sik has a slightly different hairdo in comparison to Season 1. The hair is redder. I don't mind much, but I do mind a little: they could have guessed that some people would rewatch Season 1 and notice this!) ... and in walks Ye-ri! She is alive! Ouf, big sigh of relief. And okay, now I get the initial voice over ... well, no, I don't get it fully, but at least we now know that time did not flow linear in the two last episodes of Season 1. The duct tape wrapping in the warehouse seems to occur after the current events; as does her visit to Ji-hoon's apartment.
She has not been successful in acquiring useful information about their boss' whereabouts, and an annoyed Min-ho wants to give up. He doesn't see the point in all this. But then, smart-ahjussi White Snake asks why they think they have become a member of the TEN-team. Uhm ... Not at all clear, is it? Do-shik looks through the F-case material that they got from Ji-hoon's office and notices that Ji-hoon put the fake Tape Murder case (Episodes 1 and 2 of Season 1) there, too. Why? Because he thought he missed something? Because he knew he would need help from the team? Yes, they conclude: "He wants us to find the hidden picture while he goes into hiding ... the hidden picture he couldn't find for the last 7 years". Okay, there is a point to all this after all. And Ji-hoon is obviously an opportunistic bastard who never cared about the other TEN cases, but only about the F-cases.

Finding the Hidden Picture

They put up stickers and photos and arrows and notes on all the walls around the large office space (it's pretty cool, really ... I will try this in my own office)...
... and thus map out seven years of F-cases. Will they be able to find anything else, though? Ye-ri wonders, given how much their boss invested into collecting all that information. Zoooooom ....
They decide to revisit the old cases in order of their occurence. Police officers in charge, mothers, friends, neighbors recount the murders, while we always see the same hooded, creepy and silent killer doing the killings. It seems the girls all knew him. But he is like a ghost: not trace of him. Nobody saw his face. He must have been a master of camouflage.
Note: There is one conversation that seems to carry particular meaning: One of the victims had a sister, but she's AWOL. (In my years as a KDrama watcher, I have come to realize that clues about lost family members always have plot-relevance)
When Min-ho looks around in one of the crime scenes, the sight of a power line triggers a memory. He rushes off, Do-shik closely behind - trying to keep up on the rented bike. Haha. I just love you, Kim Sang-ho. They cycle to the river side - a familiar location to us TEN watchers. Baby face has remembered what he saw seven years ago, when he was still a student: The dead body of Choi Hyeon Jeong. One of the F-cases - the next one, in fact.
Do-shik goes to the local police station next to find about that case ... and realizes it is the police station in which has was stationed seven years ago. He asks his former colleague who was in charge of the murder - and the colleague says while shaking his head "How can you forget your own case? Especially one that wasn't solved?"
Min-ho has gone home to his father's house. There, he looks at old photos in an album: the ones he took seven years ago. He finds what he was looking for and takes the picture out: it depicts Ji-hoon looking at the body. Then, he rushes off again (after leaving a note for his father, which I cannot read because the subbers forgot to translate the note. Note to subbers: please always sub written language too! ... but laos7 has translated it for me, thanks! "Father, I stopped by home. Please eat well"
At the same time, Ye-ri talks to an ahjumma who knew the family of the murdered girl well - the mother, she hears, is still standing in front of the police station, demanding that the murderer of her daughter be found. Ye-ri sets off to find her. When she sees the mother and the picture of the murdered daughter on her cardboard, she realizes who the victim was: that girl seven years ago that made her change her face into a smiling one.
At that moment, Do-shik walks out of the station and Min-ho arrives on his bike. And Ye-ri realizes: the F cases did not only have three things in common (happened on a Friday, involved the Face, and the victims are Females), but this particular one is also about forgotten memories. All of them forgotten memories of the members of TEN. And they realize what the connection between them is. Seven years ago, all of their lives were, in some way or another, touched by an F-case - and Ji-hoon.


Obviously, Ji-hoon was not only a few steps but quite some leagues ahead of them. But all of the cases they have revisited so far were also his (and the killer's) "home ground" (in the outskirts of Seoul). They decide to take on the "away"-cases (which happened after the ones they have been revisiting). Their first stop takes them to Daejeon. For the Daejeon case, Ji-hoon was brought in from Seoul as the "ace" to help with the investigation (and it is also where we first met the now chief / superior of Ji-hoon in Season 1). "Them" is Ye-ri and Do-shik... Min-ho has to stay at home ("the ticket is too expensive"). Min-ho is offended - and much more so when Do-shik tells him he has "a cow's reverse luck", i.e. only finds things by luck. Haha, Ye-ri makes such a cute cow-sign:
A challenge for Min-ho, whose feathers are badly ruffled! And despite the fact that he might appear pretty shallow and a bit too much in love with himself, he is one smart cookie, that one - and of course, he does find something. By lying around on the floor, prettily.
Somebody from the police department tipped off the media that there was a serial killer, which resulted in a big media frenzy. While Min-ho thinks that is noteworthy enough by itself, he thinks it is even more important that Ji-hoon did not have that information in his material. 
The other two (back from their trip) give him blank looks, and poor Min-ho becomes really insecure ... isn't what he found important? But then, Do-shik bursts out laughing and says, yes, it is important - but not quite for the reason Min-ho thought it was. Important is WHO gave the tip? Min-ho already requested a search. Do-shik muses that there were only two people who knew about the serial killer: Yeo Ji-hoon ... and F. Then: If the tip came from the police; it came from F! At which point our cute cow Min-ho gets a text from the police station about his search request and they rush off to the station to hear who gave the tip.

It seems not to have been just one, but two leaks. The first trail leads them to ... the boss-boss, Ji-hoon's boos (not sure what he is, exactly. Not Chief of Police, but chief of homicide maybe?). This wouldn't be our obnoxious TEN team if they wouldn't wait in front of his house and confront him with this new knowledge of theirs! Well, to say the least, he's pretty cool with it and even laughs at Do-shik for playing detective late at night. I've always liked his character a lot. Glad he doesn't really seem to be a bad guy (as some suspected after Season 1), even though Ye-ri senses that he is hiding something.
The second leak was from a detective named Choi Min-hee - but when they talk to the journalist that the info was leaked to, they find out pretty quickly that she didn't get the info from Choi; but overheard it "by chance", when he was at the restaurant with another police officer. Guess who? Yeo Ji-hoon! *dumb faces all around*
Oooookay. So Ji-hoon deliberately created a media frenzy in order to create a sense of urgency and present himself as the solution, the "ace" that would solve it all? Hmmmm....

The next murder that happened after that and to which the TEN team turns its attention now is the "Room 101" case: Ji-hoon's girlfriend. And while this case should have been the most important to Ji-hoon, he has collected almost no information about it. Strange ...

Death and the Maiden

Min-ho and Do-shik start at the crime scene: Room 101. Min-ho thinks he's late and is totally relieved when he hears from the officers guarding the place that nobody has gone it. Ha! But White Snake is already in, giving poor Min-ho a bad fright. So, how did he get in without being seen? Min-ho wants to know. Not a question of how, Do-shik says, but when. In order to not be seen by the surveillance equipment the police had put up, killer "F" had but one option: to already be in the hotel when they set it all up. And when the fire alarm started, he slipped away. But where? Why did he not get caught by the guards? He must have either disguised as one of the guests - or as one of the detectives. Do-shik orders Min-ho to go get alibis from every single person at the crime scene that night.
Ye-ri (always alone) goes to talk to Hee-joo's parents (the dead girlfriend of Ji-hoon's). Like all the other relatives of victims, the poor parents look like the living dead and her father (a former policeman) is even in a wheelchair. Ye-ri hears that Hee-hoo gave a concert the day before her murder, at a volunteer organization, a thing she did regularly. That morning, she left after a small argument with her mom, about her not dressing warmly enough. She called later to tell her that she had dinner plans with Ji-hoon after. And then, at 11pm, her mother received a text message not to wait up for her. Only a text, not a phone call? Yes, the mother confirms.

In Hee-joo's room, Ye-ri sees a lot of photos; of her and Ji-hoon, but also one in which she is at a gathering (I guess it is at the volunteer organization the mother talked about). From some fliers, Ye-ri learns the name of that organization: "Han-eul". Next, she picks up an LP (there's a note, from Ji-hoon, and laos7 says it reads: "Shubert 'Death and the Maiden'. I finally chose the best classical track. Congratulations on the 27th birthday of Hee Joo, Ji Hoon ^^ 2004.04.09). It's Death and the Maiden (A Schubert String Quartet, one of my favorite pieces of music since I was very little). She also notices two pictures in the room, depicting Death with a Maiden (the first is by Egon Schiele, the second by Hans Baldung Grien)
Min-ho's alibi search comes up empty, and a noodle munching Do-shik tells him to be more thorough over the phone if he doesn't want his ass whooped. But Min-ho is sure he has checked everybody ... until he turns around, wide eyed, and stares at the chart of people that were at the crime scene that night: "There is someone without an alibi". I don't have a good feeling about this ...
In the meantime, Ye-ri is talking to one of Hee-joon's musician friends/colleagues, with whom she played the day before her death at the Ha-neul gathering. Ye-ri learns that Ha-neul is a support group run by the Catholic Church that brings together family members of murder victims. He-joo played there about once a month. "She really liked Death and the Maiden, didn't she?" asks Ye-ri. "Oh no", goes the friend, "that wasn't her. It was her boyfriend". No, that's not creepy at all ... o.0
Back at their large empty office, Do-shik has figured it out. "F" was already at the hotel long before the police set up their trap. But he wasn't in the room (101) when the fire alarm sounded. No: he was on the 3rd floor. He watches the surveillance footage again with Ye-ri ... and bang! There he is: a hooded figure, coming down the stairs calmly, while everybody else panics around him.
Min-ho comes in, grave faced. He comes bearing bad tidings ... yes, there is one person who does not have an alibi (and never bothered to give one) among all the people at the scene that night: It is Ji-hoon. And that is not all: He took a lot of breaks on Fridays. He called a TV station a few days before the murder - a station where you can request classical music. When Hee-joon was murdered, Death and the Maiden played on TV ... requested by Ji-hoon. WTF?

Do-shik looks at the camera footage again and freezes the picture on Ji-hoon:
"Camouflage. The best camouflage. A murderer who kills people disguises himself as detective who chases murderers."
And in waltzes the police (the new investigator team for the F cases): they need to come with them (love how they come in and own this space - had to gif it!)


All three TEN-members are interrogated separately. How well did they know Ji-hoon? Did they ever wonder why he chose them? Did they know he did thorough background checks of all of them?

And then, the bomb: Ji-hoon was the prime suspect in his own girlfriend's murder and is the prime suspect for the dead woman in Room 101 (by the name of Kim Min-hee). Most importantly, there is a car video, taken around the time of the Room 101 victim's death, in front of her house.
The man stepping out of the house is ... Ji-hoon!!

Thoughts and Comments

Nice thing you did there show. Make us feel safe ... and then BANG! Bring back in the doubt. Yes, at the end of season 1, pretty much everything was pointing to Ji-hoon either being the killer or at least entirely nuts. By making the warehouse scene an occurrence of the future - and Ye-ri alive - both things started to become doubtful. The explanation that the team comes up with - that Ji-hoon needs to hide because "F" is most likely a police officer - made utter sense, not only to the team, but also to me. But now, it's not looking particularly good for Ji-hoon.

The twist makes up for the slight disappointment I felt in the other "twist", which wasn't a twist at all: our three team members finding out that they are all connected to the Daejeon case. The problem with that moment (though really nicely filmed) is that we, the audience, knew that for a very long time (over a year, in fact!) So it's not at all a surprise to us. This is something we get in KDrama quite often: big things are revealed to the characters much later than to us. That can be very annoying, if it is dragged on for too long. Which it wasn't here, thankfully.

And in a way, I also understand why this moment was needed in this episode. First of all, it ties back to Season 1 and the four individual stories we saw of them, seven years ago. This would be particularly useful for people who have not (re)watched Season 1. Second, this moment was used to show us that Ji-hoon has of course selected these members very carefully (though I am not entirely sure I understand why these people yet). Also, Ji-hoon's obsession is foregrounded, as it becomes clear that the TEN team (set up to solve very difficult cases on paper), was always his tool to ultimately help with the F-cases. Fourth, I guess this episode was about forgotten memories overall. This theme was very nicely played out. Realizing what they have forgotten strengthens the team's collective identity.   

Finally: I obviously don't believe that Ji-hoon is the killer, because that wouldn't make much sense, would it? Or ... maybe it does make sense?? This show has been able to surprise me more than many other shows I have seen in my life. So ... couldn't he in fact be a (if not the) killer? He has clearly shown pretty crazy behavior before (i.e. when he duct tapes poor Min-ho in order to do a time estimate). But then there are the monologues ... good thing we have those. Both the one at the end of Season 1 and the one at the beginning of Season 2 let me hope very much that this is all a big misunderstanding and our hot predator detective is not a bad guy. Okay, he is a bad guy of sorts. But I mean he is just a sexy bad boy and not a really bad killer.