Pied Piper 피리부는 사나이 - Episode 11 (Recap)

Goosebumps have become my constant companion while watching this show. (Trotwood: I've been tempted to grab my daughter's inhaler while watching this show, and I don't have asthma!) The factory-case was relatively non-scary, because those Chinese workers were so unorganized. Even the dust-explosion was kinda "meh, yeah, dust explosion". But in this episode, the terrorist goes chemical weapons and I tell you, if you're weak of heart, stop watching. The frogs are boiling, I tell you. In multiple pots.
JoAnne: At least we get lots of Sexy Boxer.
I will then watch this later when I've recovered from tummy troubles and can watch intense stuff. So, yeah, I'm commenting based on recap and comments today.

Episode 11

At TNN, they start planning for the public debate special broadcast, as suggested by slimy BiL Kang. Hee-sung wants no cheap sensationalism but an honest, open debate ... or so he claims. He confiscates some juicy info that Reporter Yoon has collected though. It's info on a detective named Lee Cheol Yong, who, so it seems, is connected to Commissioner Yang. By the way, I want that view.
She bugs me. But I think the reason why she bugs me is because I want her to wake up. She is doing her job and everything, but strikes me as a person who is still playing at reporter as opposed to really living it and understanding it. I think that is why Hee-Sung smacked her over the head before. I think she is smarter than that and has to dig deeper. I want her to expose him or at least be part of that exposure so she doesn't feel so duped and betrayed later.
She clearly will have a big part to play at some point, because they keep putting her in our face. And the thing is, it feels like Hee-sung is a good reporter, or at least a good boss. I can see him mentoring a rookie, for sure. Genuinely, out of interest for the growth of that individual - not as a pawn for the Piper.
She's a rookie, so she can't live and understand her career as yet. She needs experience to seem less shallow. She'll clearly get that in this story.
Said Mr. Lee (Lee Won-Jong! Hurray. I love him in everything--although I do like him with longer hair.--I know. I have  hair thing) is on his way to the police trauma center ... observed by Pied Piper No. 2, our Boxer Soo-kyung. His therapist is the woman who is also Myung-ha's therapist (her name is Dr. Moon) (No other therapists in Seoul?) and it seems that Mr. Lee has recently experienced the death of his partner during a stake-out because no reinforcement arrived. Detective Lee wanted to help his partner but was crippled by a panic attack in the crucial moment. He has PTSD, from an earlier incident, during which he also lost a subordinate. Guess when and where...
I also like this actor! We forgot him in the Ahjussi post, though, and he definitely fits in the older one (born 1966) I feel bad.
So, Dr. Moon was the go-to shrink for Newtown survivors. That seems weird, if organized. 
On his way out (he's in very bad shape), he meets Team Leader Kong (who wants to see someone about his hurting scar). They know each other and they have a chat in the park about his new posting with the negotiation team. Awww, Kong says they feel like family.
It was a nice moment, showing us how Kong (despite his bravado) really is the kind of person who looks out for people and sees his colleagues as comrades. Talk to him, Detective Lee!! Don't fall for Pied Piper manipulations!
I'm starting to get nervous about Kong's longevity. Plus, not for the first time - an entire hospital clinic devoted to police trauma? Is this an actual thing? I'm not aware of it here in the States. The most they ever mention in TV shows here is that there's usually a designated psychiatrist for them to see when they wish.
And why only one psychiatrist?

When Kong leaves, we see that Soo-kyung is still shadowing the Detective ... and he tells a certain someone that Detective Lee is alone now. Time for the Real Slim Shady to make a move.
Please be in something else soon, you pretty boxer.
I keep thinking Soo-kyung is a girl's name and then getting surprised it's this manly man. 
It's night, Detective Lee is drunk and getting drunker somewhere near the Han River, when his phone rings. It's the Piper, whistling his tune. And he has some explosive info for him: That reinforcement that didn't arrive? That was all because of Commissioner Yang, who called the unit that was on its way to Detective Lee in to help with the casino riots.
Can someone explain this to me? Are there no other police units in Seoul? I grew up in a huge city, and I know for a fact that there are multiple units and multiple units of riot police. We even have police on horseback. (Do they have mounted police in Korea?)
In Dramaworld, the only people that exist are the people that have a part in the story. There are not really any other doctors, lawyers, convenience stores, pojongmachas, etc, than the ones that are used for the plot.
Mounted police would make sense in a hilly city like Seoul, actually. But I'm sure if they had them, Dramaworld would've shown them to us by now because horsies.
Sung-chan takes Myung-ha on a date ... oh wait, no. (I love how you catch yourself from falling into your fantasy and coming back to us. Good work, Kakashi) They're going to get gas for his car, but that's not it either, they're actually going waaaaay out there, to the place Choi Sung-Bum lost the now-dead factory owner. Sung-chan doesn't believe it was suicide (good man and thank goodness!) and asks the gas station attendant to see some CCTV. What he finds is this: when the factory manager fled, somebody followed him close behind. Someone who looks an awful lot like Soo-kyung! At least to Sung-chan (who has an eye for such things).
Sexy men notice other sexy men. It's an unconscious acknowledgement of brotherhood.
Detective Lee tries to see Commissioner Yang, but is dragged away by some police officers. Yang wants to see the negotiating team... about his upcoming TV debate with Assemblyman Jung. He wants a lot of security there since it's very likely it will attract the attention of the Pied Piper. At the question why they need to be there, Yang says it will make him look good. (I love how they all look suspiciously at him even though they have less reason to be suspicious than we do.) (He's just a massive DICK, and they know it.) Plus, they know the Piper the best. And by the way, here's some money for a team outing. (The real reason is a different one, of course. Stay tuned).
He's so skeevy and really doesn't care how uncomfortable he makes them (which makes me so happy to see his discomfiture later.)
That debate will be one of my favorite things about this drama. Look forward to it, dear Readers!
So, I guess now the negotiation team is cool, and Yang wants to be associated with it. 
They take SWAT-Team Leader Han (because would've been the first person I'd call) too and of course, they all get drunk. Very drunk this time is uri Sung-chan, and he also is in a very bad mood. When his colleagues don't stop praising Assemblyman Jung for being such a decent person and all, he blows a fuse, tells them to shut up and leaves in a huff to the toilet.
Dammit, we left Jo Jae Yoon out of the Ahjussi List, too (1974)
Sung-chan's right: his dad is awful. No sympathies for men who leave their baby mamas to suffer.

Myung-ha waits for him to come out. He apologizes for his behavior, but she understands what's going on... yeah, she's a perceptive one. And then, his ears get soooo cuuuute and red (squee!) and so cuuuutely drunk he tells her that he became a negotiator because he realized due to his father, the Assemblyman, that listening to people and understanding them got him nowhere. His mother wanted him to understand his father, but he just couldn't. But maybe, maybe ... Myung-ha could understand? Ah, this kills me.... he is so vulnerable in this scene... TT_________TT
I immediately went back to the scene where he runs into the hospital with the money only to find he was too late. Being too late to save someone--that has to be a burden even it weren't his own mother, but to have it be the only person in his life. . .
*Plots to find Kakashi a new obsession.  No reason.*
*Pulls out photo collection of Shin Ha Kyun and pets it*
I still get 5%, however the rest of you divvy up Shin Ha-Kyun.
After this, Myung-ha drags the half unconscious Sung-chan home. See? There's a clear benefit to small men. (Yeah, but she's also a trained SWAT team member. All unconscious people, no matter how small, are incredible heavy. It's like as soon as they lose conscious, they gain 50 pounds) (Dreams are heavy.) After hailing a taxi, she tries to get him to tell the cabbie where to go, but it's of no use. So she takes him to her new home, which is his old home. She even piggybacks him. I'm dying... And oh look! She looks at him, lying there, all cute and extremely drunk.
I had a boyfriend who liked to rub my earlobe between his fingers while we watched tv. I wish to do this with Sung-chan. Kakashi be damned. I'm sorry, Kakashi.
Myung-ha'd better not be making this place a home again for him. I will cut someone if she does that.
Cut to Soo-kyung gassing mice to death and then packing the substance into a bag. Thanks for killing the mood, drama.
Because we need to focus. We cannot let Sung Chan's red ears distract us from the mission at hand!
I am not sure why but moving from ear rubbing to gassing mice made me laugh very, very hard.
The mouse looks cute, if short-lived. Also, I wonder what Soo-kyung's dead noona would've thought of someone acting like he is right now, hmm?
The next morning when Myung-ha gets up, Sung-chan isn't on the sofa anymore, but outside, in the garden. Completely sober and very business-like. He isn't even wondering why he woke up on her couch? Does he remembered being very emotional at least? He shows her that photo of Soo-kyung walking after the factory owner and points out to her that it looks to him as if he were talking on the phone to someone. He has come to the conclusion that there is someone behind Soo-kyung. Myung-ha is a bit unnerved by his obsession (and by his refusal to acknowledge he was highly sentimental the night before), and she warns him to be careful, since he is losing his composure.
As her hair gets smoother, his life gets messier.
Clearly, they are not a match. 
I excused this hair because she just woke up.
Time for the debate! The TV station is heavily guarded (let's just assume it's normal that a SWAT team would guard a TV station...). I think it also proves how unnerved Commissioner Kang is that the Pied Pier is after him. Sung-chan waves Hee-sung away and tells him about his theory: Soo-kyung isn't it. There is someone else. And by the way, does he still have that tape from the factory incident? Sung-chan wants to view it, who knows, maybe there's something there? Hee-sung... panics. In a very quiet way, but he totally does not know what's on those tapes that could be a problem.
I so enjoyed seeing him sweat, but then it made me sweat, too because I wanted the good guys to get information before he did. I hate that our good guys always seem to be one step behind, but then again it wouldn't be a drama if  they weren't.
I absolutely love that we have these smart, capable opponents who are clearly very good at what they do, yet make mistakes. Hee-sung as he worries over this piece he never thought of is fantastically well done, as is the relationship and the level of control he has (and sometimes hasn't) over Soo-kyung. We've seen Sung-chan miscalculate and have to react on the fly, we've seen him be stumped. We see him make deductions that are huge leaps and sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. It's as if these two men were, you know, human.
Hee-sung tells Reporter Yoon to take Sung-chan to the editing room - he has no other choice, really. It's time to go on air, too, but while the debate between the two men gains heat, Hee-sung gets more and more distracted. It's as if he could sense that something is on those tapes that could be dangerous to him. Well, of course there is. It's actually not a visual, but sound: The cameraman captured a transmission of Sung-chan's phone in Chinese. Sung-chan gets very interested. Downstairs, Hee-sung almost misses his cue. They play the voice recording next: ahahaaaa, Yang didn't see that one coming. He knows how to lie though. 
Hee-Sung may be a bastard, but he's an equal opportunity bastard. I did enjoy this and was thankful that he is such a jerk/focused reporter.
He has lines. I have a harder and harder time saying he's evil. Same for Soo-kyung. They are driven, and it's personal to some extent, and yes, they're doing bad, bad things. But somehow they aren't evil, to me. They're misguided and have a bit of a God-complex, but evil? I don't think so.
Having a God-complex is pretty evil in my book.  
We see that Detective Lee is at the trauma center again, watching the show stony-faced. A few minutes later, he grabs the therapist in front of all the other police officers there (so many that need treatment? Poor men). He forces the receptionist to call the police and tell them what he wants: Commissioner Yang has to come to the trauma center.
Seriously, Korea. What are you doing to your police officers? Is it related to their incompetence in other shows? I mean, come on! The one show where the cops are good at their job, they keep getting fucked over. What's up with that?
Actually, it's good that police officers get treatment. They have to go through a lot of trauma, so therapy should help them get over that and not shoot first, ask later. 
Uh-oh. Detective Lee isn't alone. In the basement, Soo-kyung is busy hacking and doing other stuff to some electronics. Looks like the steering system for the building.
The things he could accomplish in this world if he used his skill for good and not for evil. Because you have to admit, he has mad skills!
Sexy and smart. If only someone like me had gotten their hands on him before Hee-sung came along...
I had expected him to be a bit dumb because of being a boxer, but he's really quite clever.
At the TV station, they're going into a break. Hee-sung is starting to chat amiably with Myung-ha (I'm really trying to figure this relationship out) when the call comes in: hostage situation at the trauma center! No whistling etc. though, which makes them think there's no Piper connection. They also think it's not a big deal because they know Detective Lee doesn't have a gun (since he's temporarily suspended). Commissioner Yang says Sung-chan will stay with him. Can you be any more obvious?!
Hee-sung clearly has positive feelings toward Myung-ha. We know he met her as a little girl - but I still want to know if he knew she was her all along.
I think he knows. He seems the sort of person who would keep tabs.
Sung-chan hears about the situation from Myung-ha (who calls him) but doesn't mind staying behind too much, since he is still puzzling over the Chinese recording. Hee-sung overhears the conversation - and is alarmed. Very much so. He starts moving.
His panic face is priceless, every time.
Almost memorable.
Upstairs, Sung-chan asks Reporter Yoon for help with the Chinese and she suggests she could fetch a colleague from the International Department. She does.
It's like she's in a different show or at least like she's been invited to a party but hasn't been told what the dress code is or that the prime minister has been invited and she's shown up in her flip flops and a hot dish. This isn't her fault; it's a great plot ploy to remind us of the world and people not in our game but still part of game.
The elevator isn't arriving fast enough for Hee-sung, so he starts running up the stairs. He arrives in front of the editing room just as Reporter Yoon arrives with her colleague. He lies that he was "just passing by". The lie is SO OBVIOUS, but Sung-chan is too busy obsessing to notice. Because the nature of the Chinese recording is "sensitive", he thinks it's a good idea to ask Hee-sung to help him. Nooooooooooo!
Why? This is what I don't get? I still don't understand his belief and investment in this partnership.
He knows Hee-sung speaks Chinese; Hee-sung already knows what's on the recording because he was there. He's a very logical choice for this because it's not an additional sharing of information. His earlier suspicions no longer exist, remember?
Sung-chan has picked up one word in particular: "Chitzu". Ah, yes, that means police! Hee-sung lies. As if.
At the trauma center, Detective Lee locks himself in with his hostage. The crisis negotiating team minus Sung-chan appears. Team Leader Kang asks Myung-ha to be allowed to do the talking - he knows this man after all. It's immediately obvious to Lee that Yang told them to deal quietly with this crisis and that he doesn't in the least plan to make an appearance. You know it's one of those OH SHIT moments when he puts on a gas mask... and waves to the CCTV. In the basement, Soo-kyung presses a button and liquid is starting to pour from the sprinkler system inside Dr. Moon's office.
Shit shit shit
Seconds later, Dr. Moon starts coughing up blood. It's Sarin gas. Oh du meine Scheisse. (my hands started shaking here). He dares Myung-ha to come in and get the doctor, which she does ... using some wet cloths over her mouth and holding her breath. Not sure about the science of this, but hey! We survived DotS. The doctor is out, but she's in bad shape. And then, Detective Lee waves to the camera again. Yes, I screamed when I watched this for the first time. He doesn't release Sarin gas on everyone though, but he does lower a massive fire door. It cuts of Myung-ha, another police officer and Dr. Moon from the rest of the gang. 
I wondered about the wet cloths, since it was apparently distributed via water to begin with.
Drama-science: let's move on.
It's then that Myung-ha realizes that this is indeed a Pied Piper case. And that this psycho could release Sarin gas on her too, at any time. And here is the ultimatum: they have 30 minutes to get Commissioner Yang to the location or the entire building gets gassed.
But he's too busy trying to ruin other lives to care about these lives!
Time to get Sung-chan to the scene, dammit! Commissioner Yang is updated on what is happening, but he still wants to deal with this hush-hush. And he orders Sung-chan to stay put - unless he wants to be kicked out of the team. Sung-chan can rage all he wants, the broadcast continues. Well, Commissioner Yang just waited for the right moment to drop a little bomb... he accuses Assemblyman Jung of being a hypocrite, acting all moral and just, when he has ... a son out of wedlock.
We all knew this was coming. But I am impressed by how calmly Assemblyman Jung takes this. He is less upset than Sung-Chan. I also wondered at how Commissioner Yang was so uptight. If he truly believes he has all the cards, I don't understand why he looked so tense.
Oh, I don't know. When something matters a lot to me, even if I think I'm as well-prepared as I can be, I still worry.
Hee-sung thinks it is necessary for the Crisis Negotiator in the studio to pipe in at this point. Since the debate has become so hot. Haha, I'm laughing at you idiots. The camera moves to Sung-chan's face, Sung-chan takes one deep breath, thinks for 2 seconds and then says: "You may wonder why I'm here? There's a crisis situation at the trauma center going on right now." Yang objects loudly and just proves that he is an absolute idiot.
He really set himself up here. How could he not think that Sung-Chan could/would talk himself out of this situation? How could he think that a hostage crisis with a chemical weapon was in any way going to trump illegitimate child for Sung Chan?
Because he doesn't realize that Sung-chan actually cares about others.
Besides, aren't people used to politicians having illegitimate children? Seems almost normal.
Sung-chan laughs at him as he says, ah, that other matter he just mentioned, the absolutely UNIMPORTANT one? Yes, he is Assemblyman Jung's son out of wedlock. And what's so wrong about that? It's a common makjang story. (I actually laughed at this comment. So meta. He just turned his own personal story into a drama for the viewers of the debate to get them to move on the real situation) But you, you scumbag of a Commissioner, you bring up stuff like that when your colleagues are in a life and death situation?
And with that, Sung-chan takes his leave. And if it means he is kicked out of the team, he needs to go rescue his colleagues. (Go get your family, hyung!) In the lobby, he runs into Reporter Yoon (in her own little show), who is still with the Chinese speaker. She wants to tag along to the scene, and when he tells her "no deal", she complains that everybody is so busy these days. Just like "Press Director" who also ran around today, like she's never seen him run before. That piques Sung-chan's interest. (See this is why Reporter Yoon is there, to help the story move forward.) When he hears that Hee-sung ran to the Editing Room, he starts wondering .... and then he asks the Chinese what "Chitzu" means. That? That means REPORTER.
dun dun DUN

Other Tidbits

* Hee-sung visits his "father" at the hospital and washes his back. He talks to him about how nobody remembers what happened back then and how he will make them remember. The old man is so terrified he almost forgets to breath.
I found this SO creepy. I'm so glad you brought this up. I thought his "father" looked like he would cry and scream if he could make a sound. What would it be like to have to listen to all these deranged stories for years and watch the results on television and not be able to say or do anything about it? 
It felt like I was watching a horror movie, it was so suspenseful. That poor old man is absolutely terrified of Hee-sung.
Urgh, that's nasty.

* Team Leader Kang finds himself alone in their underground offices, when one of the green negotiator jackets catches his eye. He puts it on ... and in come Choi and Jo. Awwwwwww, he reflectively tries to hide under the table. The two boys laugh (I laughed, too) (so did I) and ask whether a "large" will fit. He says he doesn't want a jacket. But he so wants a jacket. (I want one of those jackets!)
He loves his little team. I love him.
* Sung-chan says he has a feeling that something about the suicide note of the factory owner was off. (duh) Team Leader Kang: "Everyone is talking about feelings. Did you catch it from Myung-ha?" :D And: "Start working apart from each other!"
I just love this team. They are the embodiment of Scooby Gangdom.

* Team Leader Kang catches Jo snitching on the phone outside the bar when they have their team dinner. You know what? I'm convinced that everybody knows that Jo is their mole. They know, and they don't give a damn.
I thought Team Leader Kang was going to ask to use his phone and then look up his most recent calls. And then he just hugged him and let him go.
Yep. He said he was cold so he could put on the jacket and then secretly look at the phone. That's what I thought, too. But no, he symbolically reinforced his commitment to his team members and then spoke directly in reference to their commitment to each other. I got a little weepy. So nicely done. Such generosity of spirit. 
They've all been in rotten positions before, so I wouldn't be surprised if the team just is going to let this go, since they're not really affected. 
* Hee-sung seems protective of Myung-ha. He tells her to not listen to the debate because they're going to air the voice recording with her foster father on it.
I found this interesting. I really want to figure out what his feelings are about her now that he knows she is a victim, too. Myung-ha without knowing it will probably be the real breaking point between Hee-Sung and Soo Kyung.
I'm starting to be very sure that he's always known who she is. Oh became a negotiator because of her. I think Hee-sung became the Piper because of her. Shall we name her Helen and sink some ships?
Why are all these people so obsessed with her?


Be still my heart. There is so much going on. So much! We have the first crisis that is in fact potentially lethal to our team (how about getting gas masks there???!) and we have a show-down at the TV station, which is happening on several levels. It's pretty clear already that BiL Kang's "evil" plan will backfire (he wants to make Yang look good through this debate - yeah, I think NOT), which is SO gratifying. Stupid idiots. I love how quickly Sung-chan turns the situation they put him in around and makes the crisis public, against Commissioner Yang's explicit wish. (one of my favorite scenes in the drama) They tried to use him and now he uses them. Brilliant man. He will be able to leverage this in what is coming and it probably means Commissioner Yang will lose more than his honor. 
I 2nd the gas mask thing. Why aren't they shipping them in there. They are everywhere in Seoul. The subway stations have machines that contain emergency gas mask boxes like the boxes that contain fire extinguishers in the US.
I was so engrossed in the scene that I never thought of the gas mask but duh, yes, very obvious to anyone with half a brain. I clearly didn't have even that much. I also think that the debate will be one of my favorite scenes as well - both the debate itself and all the things going on around the debate, really, so I guess more that this is one of my favorite episodes.

The other show-down is between Sung-chan and Hee-sung, even though Sung-chan does not realize until the end of this episode. For the first time, we see Hee-sung unnerved, almost scared. The tape was recorded while he was inside the factory, so he has no knowledge of what is on it. It's outside of his control, an oversight, really, and it affects him so much because he has gotten to know Sung-chan quite well in the time they've been "working together". He knows that the negotiator is a tenacious little dog who bites and holds on - and once he has sniffed blood, he will follow the trail to the end. Even the tiniest little thing that looks suspicious on this tape will be a problem for him.
The whole thing was just so perfectly done. I'm mentally applauding the writer and the actors. And the director.

With our knowledge of who Hee-sung is (the Pied Piper overlord) and Sung-chan's non-knowledge of this fact, the drama manages to create a lot of additional tension. I wanted to scream at Sung-chan to not trust this bastard, to listen to his gut-feeling which certainly must be flashing red still whenever he sees that frog-face, but how good is it for the dramatics that Sung-chan is still in the dark? Perfect. He is being played by this Hee-sung bastard, but not for much longer. I can't get enough of their confrontation. So good. So good!
It really is. Considering that this is a situation where we know the good guy, we know the bad guy, and we know that the bad guy cannot actually win... and yet we are entirely gripped by tension and 'what don't we know?' because this writer has trained us to understand that there will be more surprises.

And as always, a few words on our OTP. This isn't a romance drama, which is excellent, but the relationship between these human beings is wonderful to behold. He told her not too long ago that he'd never speak about his family. First chance he gets, he does. And not just the usual stuff, but the deeply emotional stuff. Like ... everything. He told her everything about his deep hurt and what it meant to him. And the next day, he pretends it never happened. That's him, of course, still dead afraid of letting anybody too close. But you know what, Myung-ha is the right kind of woman for him. Because she does not insist. She's not like his dead girlfriend who started to demand things from him he wasn't ready to give. No, Myung-ha just looks at him, thinks "WTF, he's in one of his moods again" and let's it go. 
She's also had her own trauma, so she gets it that a person who has experienced such pain will talk about it when he/she wants and that it is rather mean but also selfish to push them. Even though she is the "emotion" of the duo, she also does not talk when she doesn't want to. So she gets it.
This is a connection drama. They have connected. It could have romantic overtones or not, but it's a real connection between the characters - and between other characters, too - and we can feel that.
I'm fine with them non-romantically connecting.