I continue to love The Girl Who Sees Smells, no ifs buts or caveats. For a drama with a dark serial killer underbelly, this story makes me laugh way more than even pure rom-coms that deal with only light subject matters. What works is natural laughs that comes from sweet and sassy Cho Rim and her alchemy interactions with dour and dogged Moo Gak. He’s like a really earnest retriever trying to find a lost item while she’s the yappity toy dog jumping circles around him. Their chemistry continues to be delightful, with Cho Rim constantly ordering Moo Gak around and he tries his best to obey because she’s done the world’s biggest favor for him.
The serial killer case is developing along nicely. It’s too easy to pin the whole shebang on creepy Doctor Chun, it can’t be a coincidence that he’s buddies with chef Jae Hee who so happens to be the latest victim’s boyfriend. The cops in this drama are not nearly as stupid as the ones in all recent dramas so for that they can investigate at their own pace and it doesn’t annoy me. It helps that lady Detective Yeom personifies what a real lady cop looks and acts like, all no nonsense but without a gender axe to grind. I’m also loving how so many important facts are being shared between all the main characters, why keep secrets when knowing the truth is so much more exciting.
Episode 3 recap:
Cho Rim sees missing model Mari’s scent trail leading over the cliff into the river below. When she gets close to the edge to take a better look, she almost slips but quick thinking Moo Gak grabs her in his arms safely. He accidentally steps on her sunglasses and she makes a fuss about him breaking it, but then thanks him for saving her from tumbling over. Moo Gak confirms from Cho Rim that Mari’s scent trail ends in the river.
The cops are all combing the mountainside for Mari, with team leader yelling into a megaphone for everyone to look carefully. The other two detectives then get a call from Moo Gak that Mari’s body has been found.
The detectives wait by the river as Mari’s car is pulled up from the river. The door is opened and Mari’s body is dead in the passenger seat. Team leader gives Moo Gak a look before assigning tasks on bringing in more forensics and crime scene investigators.
Detective Yeom arrives at the crime scene and wants to open the car door to check Mari’s body. Another cop tries to stop her but Moo Gak steps in and resolves the impasse, allowing Detective Yeom to confirm that Mari has the serial killer’s bar code etched on her inner arm. Detective Yeom is understandably upset that she failed to prevent another bar code victim.
Detective Yeom asks Moo Gak how he knew where to find Mari’s body but he doesn’t have an answer for her other than shoot a glance towards Cho Rim who is standing in the distance with other folks.
The police chief arrives and orders that Detective Yeom take the lead on investigating Mari’s murder, adding her to the ongoing serial killer case. Detective Yeom brings in the detectives from the major crimes unit and then asks Moo Gak to join her team as well. The police chief allows it much to team leader’s dismay.
Cho Rim goes home just as her adopted father is headed to work. He’s very protective and asks why she was out all night and Cho Rim makes an excuse using her comedy troupe. Dad reminds Cho Rim of their arrangement, if she doesn’t perform by the end of 7 months then she needs to quit. Cho Rim hands Dad his favorite bread from Yangpyung and pushes him off to work.
Cho Rim’s dad is no longer a detective and now works as a security guard in a corporate building. Detective Yeom is waiting for him in the lobby and they move the conversation elsewhere for privacy. She reveals there was another victim of the bar code serial killer today, making her the 6th victim. She needs to find the only eyewitness to the killer, the daughter of the sea diving couple.
Cho Rim’s dad lies that the daughter was not an eyewitness, plus she’s dead now as well. Detective Yeom knows that eyewitnesses can be listed as dead for protection, and she’s sure Cho Rim’s dad knows where to find that daughter. Dad refuses to give up Cho Rim’s location as he stares at the bag of bread Cho Rim gave him this morning. Detective Yeom is certain he knows and plans to come back until he tells her.
Creepy Doctor Chun reads the news about the dead sea diving couple and their missing daughter. He gets a call from Chef Kwon Jae Hee about a police officer coming to talk and heads down to the restaurant.
Moo Gak arrives at Jae Hee’s restaurant to interview him, first apologizing for bringing the bad news about Mari’s confirmed death. He offers Jae Hee the chance to see Mari before the autopsy in two days. Jae Hee claims that Mari has never talked about her family before and he plans to handle her funeral arrangements. Moo Gak changes the topic and asks about Doctor Chun, explaining that he’s been added as a suspect so he wants to hear what Jae Hee knows about him.
Doctor Chun arrives and introduces himself to Moo Gak, asking if he’s a suspect? He agrees to answer all of Moo Gak’s questions right here. Moo Gak starts by asking why Mari’s last phone call was to Doctor Chun and hears that Jae Hee introduced Mari as a patient to Doctor Chun for treatment of her pain after spinal surgery. Doctor Chun provides his alibi as being in Jeju Island for the past four days and Jae Hee’s discomfort at the barrage of questions leads Moo Gak to take his leave for now.
Moo Gak goes to a sunglasses store to buy a replacement for Cho Rim. He hears that Cho Rim’s broken glasses are counterfeit. He can’t believe she made such a big deal about him breaking it if it was a fake, but then decides to replace it with the real deal.
Doctor Chun sits in the audience at a Frog Comedy Troupe performance and spends his time glancing at Cho Rim in the sidelines. During the performance, he finds Cho Rim outside alone by the water vending machine and reaches his hand into his coat as he ominously walks up to her. When Moo Gak arrives just then and calls out Cho Rim’s name, Doctor Chun abandons whatever plan he had up his sleeve, keeping his head lowered as he rushes past Cho Rim and runs off around the corner.
Moo Gak wonders why the man’s figure seemed familiar and hears from Cho Rim that the guy left a medical hospital scent trail. Moo Gak runs after the guy but can’t find him. The troupe leader finds Cho Rim outside when the performance isn’t even finished yet, calling her distracted and wondering why she hasn’t been practicing with her partner Detective Choi? Cho Rim insists Detective Choi isn’t a decoy and is really her comedy partner and they will definitely be ready for the audition performance.
After the performance finishes up, Cho Rim walks everyone out and immediately sees Moo Gak’s scent trail nearby. It’s so cute that his scent trail is ice crystals. Cho Rim immediately chews out Moo Gak for not fulfilling his end of the bargain and practicing comedy skits with her. Moo Gak silent lets her yell at him and suggests they eat first and then she can continue to yell at him. Cho Rim’s stomach growls and she runs after Moo Gak.
The two sit down to grill meat, with Cho Rim getting even more annoyed as Moo Gak munches his food without a care for her. She calls him selfish, the way he only cares about his investigation, and now only eating the food without seeing if she’s eating. Moo Gak tells Cho Rim to just eat but she points out that there has to be meat to eat and he’s eaten three platters all by himself.
Moo Gak orders more meat and then places a sunglasses case in front of Cho Rim. She opens it to find her broken sunglasses so he quickly swaps it out for the new pair he just bought her. It’s a thank you gift for her helping him make major case squad detective, and also for replacing the ones he broke. Cho Rim asks how he bought the same pair and hears that Moo Gak got her the real branded sunglasses to replace her counterfeit ones. Cho Rim accepts the gift but reminds Moo Gak to practice the skit and be ready for the audition.
The server bringing more food knocks over a glass of water and the steam gets into Cho Rim’s eyes so she rubs them and her contact lens falls out. Moo Gak stares at her one colored eye and so does a child sitting across from her, loudly wondering if she’s an alien. Cho Rim quickly covers her eye and runs out of the restaurant but Moo Gak picks up her contact lens and runs after her.
Moo Gak stops Cho rim from getting into the taxi, telling her not to run away because of this. He explains that he’s also an alien and a freak like her so she needn’t try to hide it.
Moo Gak tells Cho Rim his sad story, how he had a little sister and lost her three years ago to an unknown killer who severed her artery in the hospital. Moo Gak went crazy and threw a fit at the police station, demanding the cops catch the person who killed his Eun Seol. But for two months the cops couldn’t crack the case and a depressed Moo Gak had insomnia, which caused him to faint while he was in the water at the aquarium.
Moo Gak was rushed unconscious to the hospital and we see him being brought in as Cho Rim’s adopted dad is taking Cho Rim out of that very hospital, and their gurney’s pass each other in the hallway. Moo Gak was medically dead when he was admitted yet he miraculously woke up 10 days later. He was shocked to discover that he couldn’t feel any sensation, smell anything, or taste anything.
Cho Rim shares her story, how she was unconscious for 193 days after a car accident and woke up afterwards with one colored eyeball like a freak. That colored eyeball allows her to see scents. Cho Rim asks if Moo Gak started eating this much after the incident and he explains that he uses food to fill the emptiness in his soul. Cho Rim wants to hit Moo Gak to test out that he really can’t feel any pain before reminding him to go practice with her.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim sit in a café and she takes out all her comedy gear, suggesting that their next skit be more uncouth and coarse. Cho Rim hands Moo Gak a wig as she puts one on herself, claiming that Moo Gak smiled at her funny look. She puts Moo Gak’s even funnier wig on him and launches into their skit which is about a country bumpkin coming to live in Seoul. It’s insanely funny when Moo Gak puts on his perfect saturi as he is amazed that parking in Seoul costs money and even Seoul dogs wear clothes.
Cho Rim breaks character and busts out laughing at Moo Gak, but then sincerely explains that she really needs to pass the audition and get accepted as a performing member. This is her last chance and she promised her dad to give up and get a real job if she fails. Moo Gak agrees to do his best to help her since she did her best to help him. He lets Cho Rim put the wig on him and practices his “what?” facial expression and intonation.
Moo Gak accompanies chef boyfriend Jae Hee to the morgue to see Mari’s body, with Moo Gak clearly affected by Jae Hee’s grief and helps him out of the room. Detective Yeom keeps her poker face on and asks that the autopsy be extremely thorough to note anything on her body.
The investigative team go back to the location by the cliff where Mari’s car went over the edge into the river. They recover broken taillight pieces on the ground and Moo Gak explains Mari’s car must’ve been hit and sent it over the edge.
The cops expect to use it to look for the car that hit Mari’s car when another detective pulls up with the two people who were in the car that hit Mari’s car, they happened to turn themselves into police and have handed over the recording from their car blackbox. Detective Yeom hears that they hit Mari’s car three days ago. The other detectives wonder if Moo Gak has special powers, how was he once again correct in assessing how Mari’s car went into the river? Team leader tells everyone to hunker down and keep on investigating this case.
The detectives are back at the precinct and marveling at how intense Detective Yeom is with her focus on this investigation. The cops play a paper line game and team leader ends up paying for lunch, while Moo Gak doesn’t even play but his final chance gets him the best outcome at free. The cops all wonder again if Moo Gak really doesn’t have supernatural abilities?
Detective Yeom is annoyed at the other detectives so walks into the video feed side of the interrogation room. She finds Moo Gak pacing inside and the mood seems intense until Moo Gak busts out with a saturi “what?” into the mirror. He then puts on his performance wig and keeps on practicing, leading Detective Yeom to burst out laughing.
Mari’s autopsy results reveal that she suffocated to death and a key on a chain was found inside her stomach contents. Further investigation into the location of Mari’s car before it went over the cliff needs the car to reach that location via two routes. But the CCTV footage along the road of those two routes showed that Mari’s car never traversed either route in the 9 days prior to her death. Detective Yeom sends everyone off on their tasks, with Moo Gak assigned to visit Doctor Chun to get Mari’s patient records.
Moo Gak sits down with Doctor Chun who hands over Mari’s patient file and Moo Gak uses this chance to ask him about his Jeju Island trip. On the second day he was in Jeju, Mari was killed, while he returned to Seoul on the day Mari’s body was left by the cliff. Doctor Chun asks if he doesn’t have a good alibi? Moo Gak thinks the alibi sounds too airtight and perfect. Doctor Chun says nothing and excuses Moo Gak so he can see a patient.
The audition is about the start and Cho Rim is anxiously calling Moo Gak to hurry up. He promises to be there in thirty minutes and gets into his car.
The other cops pay a visit to Mari’s friends who recognize the key as a real key which opens a box where Mari keeps all her diaries. The cops use the key to open the box but inside is empty, all of Mari’s tens of diary books are gone. The cops hear that Jae Hee was by earlier today and left already. They report this to Detective Yeom who quickly call Moo Gak to go see Jae Hee immediately. Moo Gak ends up missing the comedy troupe audition.
Moo Gak finds Jae Hee burning something in his front yard and pull it out of fire. He hears that Jae Hee is burning some of Mari’s outfits,he picked up clothes for Mari’s funeral and also took two outfits that they used to argue about whenever she wore it. Moo Gak confirms with Jae Hee that Mari has a steady diary writing habit and writes in it every day.
Cho Rim does her best and goes onstage alone to do both parts in her skit. Sadly her effort isn’t enough as the troupe leader orders her to stop messing around and get off the stage.
The entire comedy troupe goes out drinking after the audition, with Cho Rim being super solicitous in pouring everyone drinks. The troupe leader orders Cho Rim to leave since she’s not a member of the troupe anymore. He announces that no one in the troupe is to have anything to do with Cho Rim anymore.
Moo Gak rushes to the comedy troupe and finds it all empty. He wanders around nearby and sees the troupe all heading to round two. Cho Rim’s sunbae recognizes Moo Gak as Cho Rim’s partner and explains that Cho Rim is all alone back at the first restaurant before filling him in on what happened.
Moo Gak finds Cho Rim drunk and still drinking alone at the restaurant. She doesn’t even need to turn around to know Moo Gak is here as his scent trail flashes by. Moo Gak apologizes for missing the performance because he had an emergency investigation. Cho Rim smiles and pulls Moo Gak over to drink with her and passes out in his lap.
Moo Gak buys Cho Rim a detox drink but she instead asks him to turn the wheel in the playground with her sitting on it. Cho Rim laughs and cries as the wheel turns, wondering what’s going to happen now. Moo Gak places Cho Rim in the taxi but she pushes him away and orders the taxi to drive. The taxi drives off and we see Cho Rim has gotten out the other side and is sitting in the middle of the street LOL.
Moo Gak ends up taking Cho Rim all the way home, including piggybacking her the final stretch. They are so cute I can’t even. Cho Rim pulls Moo Gak’s ear to order him to turn right and he actually seems affected by it. Cho Rim is a super bossy drunk as she orders Moo Gak to talk less and walk straight. Moo Gak arrives outside of Cho Rim’s house and she keeps making him go back-and-forth.
Moo Gak gets an epiphany from Cho Rim’s drunken directions for him to go back and forth. He rushes back to the police precinct and finding Detective Yeom still working the case. He explains a crack in Doctor Chun’s alibi, if he was in Jeju Island those four days, he could still have left the island and gone back and forth during the interim.
A drunk Cho Rim wanders into the office and calls out for Moo Gak. Detective Yeom’s eyes widen when she sees Cho Rim as she pulls up a picture of the daughter of dead sea diving couple and it’s a picture of high school Cho Rim.
Thoughts of Mine:
Cor! I think I’m developing a little bit of a girl crush on Cho Rim. And with it, a little bit of a growing appreciation and affection for Shin Se Kyung. She still has a weak chin but with her performance so sparkling with charisma and life, all the little things that used to bother me about her are getting whittled away little by little. She basically needs to stick to playing effervescent bright whippersnappers like Cho Rim, a character that never screams Candy and always shouts out Can Do. Pairing her up with Moo Gak continues to work on some many levels I’m swooning over the judicious use of drama set up tropes. With his sister being killed in her stead, and now her having the supernatural ability to help advance his police career in order to investigate his sister’s death, it’s using coincidences effectively without maudlin sentiment. I don’t think Moo Gak will feel better or worse hearing that his sister died instead of Cho Rim because it could be any other girl, the point is the series of events that led to the wrong death. He will definitely have more at stake to protect Cho Rim now, and learning about her past pain akin to his already paves the way for them to avoid unnecessary angst.
I love so much that the OTP don’t have anything close to a love-hate relationship, or bicker incessantly just because. That they have shared their deepest hidden oddity with each other so openly already is just icing on the cake. Moo Gak cannot make me love him more than I already do, from the way he doted on Eun Seol years ago to the way he can’t help but look out for Cho Rim, he’s basically the perfect guy already without needing a drama’s worth of events to shape him into one. It helps that Yoochun and Shin Se Kyung look insanely cute together, or maybe I’m just seeing sparkling rainbows shoot from the screen anytime they have a scene together. I’m sad Moo Gak stood Cho Rim up at the comedy troupe audition, it was a shitty thing to do especially knowing how candidly she shared with him the importance of doing well. But I also understand that the case is critically important because the serial killer on the lose poses a threat to the public good so no good clue can be left unturned, especially a clue that is both important and Moo Gak thought was being destroyed. Seeing Moo Gak practice his part in the skit for Cho Rim is enough for me to forgive him, I know he wanted to do well for her and be there so I hope he’s got what it takes to get her a second chance with the troupe leader.
The bar code serial killer case is nicely presented, with one known to the audience suspect in Doctor Chun, plus one maybe suspect chef Jae Hee, but both are also on the police radars so we’re not left yelling at the screen for the cops to get a clue. Moo Gak is so sharp on the uptake even without Cho Rim’s scent hoodoo, he makes connections on the string of events while Cho Rim merely helps on critical breakthroughs. He’ll make a good cop with or without Cho Rim’s help, but he may become too clouded to do it properly when it comes to solving Eun Seol’s case since it hits too close to home. Hopefully he’ll make deeper headway into the bar code case before he connects it to Eun Seol’s murder. I think there could be more than one bar code killer, and both Doctor Chun and Jae Hee could be working together or working in tandem without each other knowing (i.e. anonymously collaborating). It could explain why the killer in Cho Rim’s house clearly saw her face yet Doctor Chun in the hospital could murder Eun Seol just by her same name without realizing it was a different girl. What I really want to know is why, and hopefully the drama has an interesting explanation to keep up the solid criminal element writing so far.
Click here to watch The Girl Who Sees Smells.