Pied Piper 피리부는 사나이 - Episode 14 (Recap)

kakashi: This is one of the best hours of television I've ever watched.
Trotwood: This has got to be one of the best opening pics for a recap that I've seen. I wouldn't have thought of it, but it's perfect. (bowing before the Kakashi shrine). 
JoAnne: She's so good, isn't she?
Oh, I think about that stuff a lot, actually :) What picture does best represent the content of the episode? Well, sometimes, I also just think: Wow, Hakyun looks GOOD in this shot, let's put it at the top
Probably close to a perfect episode. Just fantastic. And now that we've seen the end (no spoilers, don't worry) - I defy Jaehyus to describe Hee-sung as forgettable. What a spectacular performance. Better than your Hakyun, I dare say.
Jaehyus: Myung-ha totally forgot him.

Episode 14

Sung-chan has the briefcase! Mad Boxer has Myung-ha. If the briefcase is opened or damaged in any way, Myung-ha dies. If Myung-ha dies or gets hurt, the briefcase will be given to the police. Do we understand the rules? We do. Soo-kyung (hahaaa, he's so pissed about having his sniper-party crashed) suggests a new meeting place, a brand new but not yet used building. When he's on his way there, Hee-sung calls. He has managed to shake Sergeant Jo (mean trick!) for a short while and is updated on the "briefcase in exchange for Myung-ha" deal. He is SUPER alarmed.
He was super on edge here. I couldn't help but wonder why no one else noticed, but then I had to keep reminding myself that everyone in this show doesn't know everything we know. I love how they show that interpretations differ depending on the levels of knowledge people have.
The center cannot hold.
Sung-chan gets to the site, and there is the Boxer! One floor up. Sung-chan has him confirm Myung-ha is there (she is, gagged and bound and struggling) and they agree on the following exchange: Sung-chan leaves the suitcase on the ground floor and they both take two separate elevators (one up, one down). They stay on the phone with each other all this time. When they have come about half-way, the Boxer sneers at Sung-chan that he'll not let them get away alive anyway. Sung-chan isn't too impressed though and says the police are almost here - Boxer better get out as quickly as he can.
Does it make sense to you guys that Sung-chan wouldn't even be worried about a trick? Or do you figure he has a trick of his own planned?
I found Sung-chan just very in the moment. Maybe he had a trick, maybe he didn't, but he was giving all he had to his negotiation.
I think he probably expected a trick, but he still had to go save Myung-ha. 
Boxer takes the briefcase, Sung-chan runs to where Myung-ha is ... only she is shaking her head furiously! What is going on?! When he has ripped the tape off her mouth, she screams "Get away from me!" Mad Boxer goddamn bomb rigged her. Downstairs, he lifts his favorite toy, a kill switch. Upstairs, Sung-chan frantically tries to get the explosives off Myung-ha. Downstairs, Mad Boxer suddenly has a gun against his head... Hee-sung arrived.
I don't think I can breathe.
I know, I was tense!
I actually paused it right here. I had to walk around the room for a minute to calm down. I did not expect this. I know I am the last person to the pity party here, but I felt bad for both of them here, despite the fact that Sung-Chan (and his glorious pants--let's not forget) and Myung-ha are about to get blown to bits. Such broken hearts and minds.
Soo-kyung starts screaming and crying. Myung-ha knows who Hee-sung is! She is going to destroy their plans! But Hee-sung does not care. Whatever it is he associates with Myung-ha, it trumps his love for Mad Boxer. Soo-kyung drops his arms with the kill switch, seeing reason? No! "I am sorry" he says and is about to flip the switch after all...... when Hee-sung shoots him straight in the head. O M G that's so shocking.
Holy crap.
Paused it again. I watched it twice because I really didn't believe it the first time.

Upstairs, Sung-chan does the most romantic thing I've ever seen... he hugs Myung-ha tight when all seems lost - to die with her (actually, how did he know when to hug her? Did the bomb light up?)
I loved that. My immediate thought was 'Well what good will that do?' but then I thought, 'awwww, so she won't feel alone.'
Seemed a normal thing to do when two people care about each other and one has a ticking bomb on their person.
Also, it wasn't like he'd be able to get away at that point anyway.
The shot rings loudly in the empty building complex, and a few moment later, Sung-chan and Myung-ha realize that they’re not dead, but alive. And Sung-chan hugs her closely again, this time for comfort.
I love them.
I don't ship them, but I appreciate they care about other.
Me. too. I really don't ship them. I did for about 5 minutes around the lightbulb, but after that I just really liked the fact that they are such close friends and such clear and loyal team members to each other. For me, the team love in this show trumps any romantic stuff for our leads. We don't need anymore. Besides, we've got Team Leader Han and his wife and her red underwear!
Downstairs, Hee-sung cleans the gun with a handkerchief (does that actually still work in the age of DNA forensics?) … and then positions the gun next to See-kyung. Okay, that angle is like SO WRONG for a suicide.
Yeah, come on.  No one is going to think that.
I don't think it matters because no one is going to ever believe that Soo-Kyung would ever commit suicide.
But never mind. Hee-sung picks up the suitcase and leaves, staggering in the process. The very last shot of him is him calling someone. Most likely “the last minion”. The show must go on, right?
After that, Hee-sung goes to the hospital where Mr. Shin is, scolding him softly for causing such trouble. He tells the old man that he had to kill Soo-kyung because he was putting Myung-ha in danger and adds: “The poor kid. Because of me, he had to become a monster”. Yes exactly. It’s what I said in the comments of episode 13. And then, Hee-sung begins to gently caress the old man’s face and it’s so goddamn freaky. I totally expected him to actually throttle him, but he does not - he just tells him he’ll be moved to a “quieter hospital”. Meaning: I'll get you somewhere where those people will not be able to find you again. 
He is absolutely terrifying in these scenes. It's funny in a way because I'm not sure he means to be.
Nutty people who kill others are always scary.  So, basically, Heesung and SooKyung reminded me of Sith Lords from Star Wars this episode. There are only two, a Master and an Apprentice, and the Apprentice does the dirty work. 
I find him the scariest here, too. I feel so badly for Mr. Shin. Talk about living a nightmare for all these years.
Teamleader Han gets to the site. Sung-chan tells him that Hee-sung is the Pied Piper and killed Soo-kyung (only.... no evidence!!). But he still wonders: why does he consider Myung-ha to be so special? He just knows that Myung-ha is the “Limping Boy” in the fairytale, while Soo-kyung is one of the children that followed the Pied Piper=Hee-sung, trying to seek revenge on the adults that made him suffer. No wonder he hated Myung-ha. The Limping Boy is a traitor. 
But the limping boy only didn't go because he couldn't walk fast enough. I think Hee-Sung sees her as crippled in some way and that he has to fight for her because she doesn't get the revenge she is supposed to want. Soo-Kyung is more like "That limping boy should've run limped faster. There are people without limbs running marathons! Don't be a wimp Myung-ha!"
Sergeant Jo has found out where Hee-sung is - the nursing home. He even has an alibi that is confirmed by the nurse (told you she was dodgy). Sung-chan urges them to arrest Hee-sung quickly, even without evidence. They do. Sung-chan and Myung-ha have 48 hours to find conclusive evidence. You better hurry, guys. 
Han et al. seat Hee-sung in the investigation room and wait… they have nothing so far. When the 48 hours are almost over, Sung-chan and Myung-ha come back! Looking very confident, Sung-chan takes the chair in the investigation room and starts backtracking on the “citizen anchor’s” career, but obviously, the key to understanding why he became the Pied Piper must lie in his past - before he became a reporter.
One of those situations where we've known something so long it's kind of a shock when they 'discover' it for the first time.
It seems he left a prestigious university (he studied journalism) because he went to the army, but he was discharged early - an injury on his knee. But that still does not explain why he is so obsessed with Newtown, right? But! There is another lead that Myung-ha and Sung-chan followed. Remember that photo that Hee-sung had, of Myung-ha her parents, and Soo-kyung? The big question is this: who actually took it? Could it have been Hee-sung, because he was somehow related to them before the incident?
Couldn't have been too close or she'd have remembered it when he handed the picture to her, right? She has no problem remembering him from the clinic.
Oh, I didn't realize she remembered him from the clinic.
Myung-ha doesn’t remember a thing (she thinks it’s because she might be blocking the memories), so she suggests hypnosis. Dr. Moon - who has just been released from the hospital - agrees to do it (reluctantly) and indeed, once under, Myung-ha recalls happy times with her parents, with Soo-kyung and Mr. Shin in the courtyard. And then, Myung-ha remembers more…. a man, taking the pictures…. she cannot see his face, it’s hidden by the camera….. but then, Jung Soo-in (one of the victims of Newtown, Soo-kyung’s sister) comes up to him and kisses him.
I’ll be damned…. so Hee-sung was the now-dead tenants’s secret boyfriend?! “What?” Hee-sung goes, after Sung-chan confronts him with this knowledge, once, twice… and then he laughs Sung-chan in the face. What a lovely made up story. So, where is his proof? But Sung-chan laughs back. Oh, he has more. After the hypnosis session, he and Myung-ha went to see photo studio owners in the Newtown neighborhood - and in one guy's records, there is indeed proof... it was not Mr. Shin who went to develop that photo but Hee-sung. Gotcha!
So he's the bereaved boyfriend and this is why he and Boxer were so close? The sister?
Yes! At least this is what Sung-chan suspects. 
I know you guys aren't going to believe me, but I didn't believe this even though I wanted to. The shape of the person's head in the flashbacks was not Hee-Sung's. Despite Jaehyus's ability to forget him. Hee-Sung has a very distinctly shaped head.
Or not? Not. So Not!!! Not only does Hee-sung credibly deny having taken that photo (he simply had it developed at the request of the paralyzed Mr. Shin), our good guys also need to realize that they were totally wrong about Hee-sung being Jung Soo-in's boyfriend. Choi - who did a little hack into Soo-in's online pictures from many years ago - finds pictures of the boyfriend. And it was: Shin Gyung-man, Mr. Shin's dead son. Not Hee-sung. Not Hee-sung at all. AHHHHHHHHH!
What the hell, then.
Which means Sung-chan has nothing at all on this guy, and now, his attorney is coming to fetch him, threatening to sue everyone. Hee-sung walks away smirking when Myung-ha shouts after him: she has heard it loud and clear from Soo-kyung, he is the Pied Piper. How dare he kill innocent people like Sung-chan's girlfriend or Teamleader Oh, who regretted his involvement so much? And she goes on and on and she says that the people who killed her parents and him: they're all the same (remember those words). She will never ever forgive him. He turns around to look at her ... and when he walks on, he has tears in his eyes.
What is it we are all missing here? It's driving me crazy.
It's driving us all crazy. I was worried that Sung-Chan was going to burst a vessel or crack his jaw he was clenching his teeth so tightly.
Well, DAMN. The prime suspect is gone, Myung-ha almost fainted from dizziness, they're kinda at wit's end right now. But.... something is bothering her. It's Hee-sung's gaze just then. And something that Soo-kyung said to her while she was kidnapped, about her father begging for his life on that rooftop. She is certain that only the people standing close on that rooftop heard him. But Soo-kyung wasn't even there! So... how does he know. And then, she suddenly REMEMBERS where she knows that gaze from. Hee-sung isn't a victim! He is the guy who jumped her father, smashed the Molotov cocktail out of his hand and started the fire that killed her parents.
WHAT? He was a COP? What happened to journalism student?
This was after he got discharged from the army, I think
This is something I still don't understand. I've finished the show, and I still don't understand his position here. I'm looking forward to that recap for the explanation.
He was studying journalism, he went and did his military service, then when he got out, instead of going back to journalism he became a policeman? I think maybe those 'riot police' are essentially cannon fodder, though. Not real policemen, but extra bodies hired and given perhaps minimal training for the particular type of situation.
It seems Hee-sung altered or forged his military records, which is enough to get a warrant - and so they storm his house. It's empty. And they find... a copy of the Pied Piper book. In it: the page that was ripped from her version of the book. At the back of this page? That "Only those who have no
power to punish forgive"-sentence. And with it, a list of names: Joo Sung-chan. Oh Jung-hak. Yang Dong-woo. Lee Joo-kyung. Seo Gun-il. Ohhhhh, seeing how everybody on this list has already been punished in some form, it seems pretty clear that he is going after the Chairman next!
Something big is coming, then.
At the TV station, Hee-sung looks over nighttime Seoul, remembers how Newtown crushed his soul and leaves, in black biker gear, with black helmet. (nice, but also is no one suspicious of someone wearing a helmet inside? NO ONE does that unless they are a criminal from justice) The police, who have come to arrest him, realize too late that it must have been him who passed them in the lobby. Choi and Jo chase him a bit, but hey - a guy on a bike has so many advantages. He shakes them easily.
It's like he said goodbye to the anchorman, and now he's fully the Piper.
Went full on Darth Vader.
Sung-chan is on his way to the hospital, where Chairman Seo still resides. He warns him about Hee-sung, who is most likely on his way to kill him. And indeed: Hee-sung is just arriving at the front door on his bike. He walks in (keeping on his helmet). Chairman Seo's bodyguards start swarming out, see him ... and lose him. Teamleader Han and his guys arrive as does Sung-chan and they join the search for Biker Man. Oh, but what is this? There clearly are SEVERAL men in black biker gear at the hospital!
Okay that's trippy.
And soooo smart. I can so imagine Hee-Sung getting together with Kang Do-Young from Liar Game and developing all sorts of crazy/nasty (mind) games.
They finally catch one right outside Chairman Seo's room and make him take off his helmet. Of course, it's not Hee-sung but a totally random guy. In the box he was told to deliver... flowers. At the same time, Han's men discover a bomb attached to the belly of Chairman Seo's car. Well done!
But this can't be it. There's something else. It's not enough, it was too easy.
I remember thinking that he is doing all this to get them to focus on something else entirely, too.
But where is Hee-sung, our bastard deluxe? He is smoking. On the roof of the TV station. No, at this stage of the drama, I do not know how he got there or when, but he is there, calm and collected. He then goes downstairs, tells an agitated Reporter Yoon - who was just called by the police - that she should calm down, seeing how it's time to deliver the news and goes and does just that: deliver the news.
Are we sure it was ever him on the bike? When did he start smoking? Is it a condemned man's last request kind of thing?
We did indeed see his face when he stopped in an alley after shaking his Choi and Jo tail. So yes, he was on the bike... but we do not know where he went. The hospital? To plant to bomb? Somewhere completely different?  
I think he went right back to station as soon as he Choi and Jo lost him. He couldn't have that perfect hair and wore the helmet that long.
And as the police storm the building, Hee-sung ends his broadcast with a farewell and a reminder. Newtown, where people died and a grave injustice was done. Newtown, where he was, as part of the police force. His final words: "The displaced residents called me a murderer. The powerful ones used us as cannon fodder. The media, instead of revealing the truth, decided to remain silent. No one paid attention to the voice of the powerless. So, I decided to tell the truth. And in order to punish the people responsible, I became the Pied Piper."
And he blows his brains out on live TV? No?

Additional Stuff

* During all the excitement, Choi continues to search for traces of the suspected malware on the police computers. There's nothing there, but then, he remembers the little exchange he had with another hacker named "Commang" a while ago (episode 6), when they needed to find out who the owner of "Underground" was... that dude gave him hacking software and yeah... 
Everything had a reason in the moment, and a reason later. I love this writer.
I love writers who reward viewers (and readers) for paying attention.

* As he stands at the window looking over nighttime Seoul, Hee-sung has a flashback. It was Myung-ha's gaze after everything burnt that sent him over the edge and into a very, very dark place. Downstairs, it was him who picked up the burnt copy of the Pied Piper. I want to mention this flashback in particular because it's excellently filmed. We never see his face until the very end, when he takes off his riot gear helmet. And then, the force of his grief hits us full force.
Like he woke up from sleep walking and realized he'd destroyed everything he loved.

* That scene with him at the trauma center, talking to Myung-ha... remember how we asked ourselves what he was doing there? Well, that was a huge clue, wasn't it.
And we did keep asking the question, too, but we thought he was the relative of someone.


What can I say... this episode was so masterfully cut, it's a shame I cannot convey this with words. I consider this perfect story-telling. I am not even sure what surprised me the most: that Hee-sung sacrificed Soo-kyung for Myung-ha's sake. Or the scene in the investigation room, where it seemed so clear that Sung-chan had him, that they had found the evidence, and Hee-sung just laughed in their face and walked out. Or the final scene of this episode, where Hee-sung confesses on TV.
The surprise to me was that he wasn't the boyfriend. Although everything was done well enough to be surprising in the moment, I was not surprised from a character standpoint that he chose Myung-Ha over Soo-kyung or that he confessed on television.
I wasn't surprised that he wasn't the boyfriend after I saw more of the flashback, but what I like about everything is that you do not get to pause and reflect that much (unless you literally pause the show). The pace keeps viewers in the moment and having to think all the time, so you don't have a moment to judge any missteps people make because the decisions have to made so quickly and under such pressure. Everything matters here. For example, even though the whole thinking he was the boyfriend thing was a red herring, it wasn't waste in the overall plot of the show. We got to see more of how tight that group was. They are not just Myung-ha's dead parents, but it was a community that clearly loved each other. The show does what Hee-Sung wants us to do--remember the victims.

It's over now, right? Of course not. But we only know this because this is episode 14 of a 16 episode drama. What next?
It's gonna be huge, whatever is.

Weren't Sung-chan and Myung-ha incredible sweet in this episode?! I keep being asked by people why I love this drama so much and I keep saying: "I need stuff that stimulates my brain, this does. I need stuff that interests me, and this does - in my real life job, I deal a lot with security issues, social dissent, and hackers. This is really well researched and meets a certain Zeitgeist exceedingly well. And I need stuff that does not follow the usual KDrama tropes. There are none here. Finally, I need stuff that does not force romance on us in the usual ways - and this does not."
I've liked that at every point where we 'knew' what to expect, we got something different.

Sung-chan and Myung-ha are not in a typical Kdrama romance relationship. What they have is so much more. And yet, for these two people to ever be romantically involved is close to impossible, still. Sung-chan has been punished by the Piper for his crucial role in the Newtown incident (by killing his almost-fiancee), but this does not absolve him; at least not in his own eyes. He has been working hard to redeem himself ever since, but I am not sure he will ever be able to forgive himself.
I have hard time imagining them leading a normal family-type life. I think that 'relationship' in that sense is probably not in the cards for them. Well, definitely not for him. She might want a family someday, but I think it would be with a different guy.
They are not a romantic duo, but I think they all love each other. This team is a family. They would, as Team Leader Kong showed, die for each other. I like this angle because it proves what people often know but disbelieve in real life--that men and women can be really good friends and have the kind of connection that we usually only assume in a brotherhood or a sisterhood.

Making sure Myung-ha is okay is a huge part of this road to redemption. Just like for Hee-sung. It took this episode to make me realize just how deeply the fate of these two men is entwined with her - and how similar their guilt is. In this episode, both men proved that they are ready for huge sacrifices because of it. Genius that it actually happened at the exact same moment in the drama: Hee-sung killed his alter ego right when Sung-chan was ready to die with her.
For them both, she represents innocence (their loss of it, her loss of it at their hands) and hope. She actually does still possess a great deal of innocence and naivete, but it's been a conscious choice in some sense. She chooses to believe in good. They desperately want to believe she is right.

Sung-chan and Hee-sung... how similar are they? Hee-sung has become an avenger, sees himself as champion of the powerless. He himself used to be powerless and went on to amass power to be able to give them "a voice through violence". Sung-chan realized he was powerless when he was very young and then ventured to become a manipulator with power over other people. But while Sung-chan is able to see that he was wrong in his ways due to Myung-ha, who shows him that listening and understanding is possible even after you've been deeply, deeply hurt, Hee-sung does not budge from his extreme position.
Hee-sung has given himself over to a mission and relinquished his own humanity in the process. Sung-chan is still a man with a will, however driven he may be.
Hee-Sung has been consumed by his own guilt and turned that energy outward to punish others while Sung-chan completely internalized his guilt. Hee-Sung wants to have others feel the same pain while Sung-chan wouldn't want anyone to feel his pain. 

We can discuss this again after the final episode, but Hee-sung's character is currently winning all the hearts everywhere. Come on, people! He is a criminal! A killer! But here's the rub (and it's not only because Yu Jun-sang is absolutely fantastic in this role): what he stands for is not wrong. The means to his end might be wrong, but not fully and all the time either. Quite the opposite, what he stands for and what he aims to do is good and right and necessary. It makes this character utterly tragic.
I feel sorry for him because he is a human being in pain, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't lock him away for ever. The ends do not justify the means. His method made him no better than the criminals he wanted to expose. We could argue, though, that it takes someone sacrificing themselves in that way to really be heard, and in that sense, like fire making room for the forest to grow, he performs a necessary service.
I agree somewhat with both of you. Hee-Sung is correct in his focus and revealing that it isn't just the powerful who are to blame but that in some way we are all to blame for accepting our role as "bystanders." However, I cannot accept his acceptance of the level of collateral damage that he is willing to cause.
I find him wrong. To me, basically, he had a tendency to this kind of crazy god-complex, and used a messed up Robin Hood ethic to justify himself killing innocents. There's no way I can find him in the least excusable.
I don't think anyone was excusing him from anything. Seeking to understand why someone thinks or acts the way they do is not excusing them. 'I understand why you did that'  doesn't mean 'It's okay that you did that' but it does mean maybe I deal with you a little more effectively. Or with the next person who acts like you, anyway.
He is a tragic hero. The definition of such a character is a character who has the potential to be great and then falls and is destroyed often by the same thing/characteristics that make him great.