Now that the who in The Girl Who sees Smells has been revealed, the drama is free to dole out the hows and whys of whatever grand killing scheme is being cooked up by the villain. Poor Doctor Chun makes multiple appearances in this episode, confirming that he’s deader than dead and really the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If he wasn’t in the ER when Moo Gak’s sister was killed then we wouldn’t even be suspecting him in the first place. And if he wasn’t a suspect then he might not have discovered Jae Hee’s evil secret and landed himself in hot water.
A good serial killer set up understands the methodical and deliberate nature of such sociopathic killing machines. The precision and routine is both a form of control and a way to avoid costly mistakes. I think killing Doctor Chun will end up being Jae Hee’s downfall because it is the first death to deviate from his schedule. The cops started thinking critically as a group in this episode, now that all the pieces have come together it becomes clear that the killer is ten steps ahead at each juncture. Having scent sniffing Cho Rim might not even help much when the criminal has both brains and brawn aplenty and has a bird’s eye view into the team that’s tasked with stopping him.
Episode 7 recap:
Moo Gak figures out the way to read the bar codes carved on the victims arms, by reversing it the bar codes reveal that each victim has been marked with a book serial number. Bar code killer Kwon Jae Hee is in his secret library lair creating the next book in his killing trophy just as Moo Gak reads out what he thinks will be the next number in the bar code series. The next book will be “06” and sure enough Jae Hee prints out the bar code for Doctor Chun which reads ends with “060”.
The detectives discuss an even more chilling realization, that the last number sequence should start with “0” because the ISBN sequence always start with “0”, but the first victim found with the bar code was “01”, which means the killings go back one further than the cops realize. Detective Yeom describe the profiles of the bar code killer – someone with intense and rigorous self-control, very physically strong as to subdue and then move the victims. From the precise incisions of the bar code, the killer is very neat and ought to have a very clean cut appearance. We see Jae Hee exercising upside down in his home gym, abs dripping with sweat. The cops decide to start their investigation with the publishing houses and publishers.
Jae Hee puts a dead/passed out Doctor Chun in the backseat of the car parked in his underground garage. He hears noise from above and goes out to meet a team here to see him. The lady is from the kitchen appliance company that will deck out Jae Hee’s kitchen in exchange for him using the products and writing a review. He politely tells her about an upcoming appointment so she quickly sends her team to take out the old appliances.
Jae Hee purposely knocks a crystal water chalice over so it shatters all over the floor, giving him an excuse to get mad and have the current workers leave without doing any work in the kitchen. Jae Hee asks the lady to bring in better trained workers tomorrow.
The cops reconvene to exchange notes on their first findings. The publishing company code used by the bar code killer is for a publisher that started in 1993 went out of business in 2000. During the years it was in business, it published a wide variety of books from all major genres. Moo Gak brings up the biggest clue the team has right now, namely model Mari’s car. How that car was moved to the spot would be possible to track.
The team discusses going out to eat dinner after the meeting, with team leader Kang bringing up having bar code nightmares tonight if he just goes home. Moo Gak declines, claiming he needs to go somewhere, while Detective Yeom doesn’t really mingle with the group as usual.
Moo Gak goes to the Frog Comedy Troupe and sits down in the audience to watch a skit. It involves superheroes and Cho Rim is behind the stage prop trying to hold it up but ends up toppling onto the stage when the backdrop topples over. She quickly hurries off while Moo Gak worriedly looks on.
Afterwards Moo Gak goes backstage and sees the sunbae berating Cho Rim for purposely ruining his skit because she can’t go onstage herself. Cho Rim tries to explain she’s not being jealous and just wants to work hard towards one day getting onstage herself.
Troupe leader runs into Moo Gak and wants to talk about how Moo Gak can’t do the skits with Cho Rim anymore, which is news to Moo Gak of course. Troupe leader is disappointed in Moo Gak for not following through with his promise. After troupe leader walks away, Moo Gak hears that Cho Rim was told she can’t go onstage if Moo Gak isn’t her partner so now all Cho Rim can do is be the errand girl backstage.
Cho Rim is crying as she walks home when she gets a call from Moo Gak. He’s actually in the car following behind her. Moo Gak asks her to pick option 1 or option 2. She picks 1 which is spicy pig trotters and he invites her to go eat some. Cho Rim almost trips so Moo Gak brings it up, leading Cho Rim to realize he’s watching her. She turns around and Moo Gak gestures for her to get in the car.
Cho Rim munches on spicy pig trotters, using the excuse of the food being spicy so that she can keep crying. Moo Gak watches Cho Rim crying and then sees his car getting towed but he doesn’t do anything about it. Cho Rim wonders what option 2 would have been and hears that it’s spicy pig trotters as well. Cho Rim is curious why Moo Gak suddenly wants this dish and he points out it’s for the same reason people go shopping when they don’t have anything in particular to buy.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak leave the restaurant only to find his car has been towed. Moo Gak isn’t upset and suggests they walk home since the weather is nice. He uses the walk to ask why Cho Rim told troupe leader he can’t do the comedy skits with her anymore? Cho Rim thinks Moo Gak’s life isn’t suited to perform comedy and make others laugh. Like the night he got drunk, he has so much hurt inside she doesn’t want him to have to make others laugh.
Moo Gak stops in his tracks and turns to look at Cho Rim before asking her to do the comedy skit with him, and for her to continue investigating with him as well. Just like she said, all he needs to do is protect her during the investigations, right? Cho Rim just stares all wide-eyed at him the entire time. Moo Gak promises that no danger will come to Cho Rim when she’s with him and then orders her to write a very funny comedy skit. Cho Rim can’t help but start hiccupping so she quickly thanks Moo Gak for the meal and spending time with her before scurrying away. Moo Gak watches her leave with a small smile on his face.
Jae Hee is off on his killer cover his tracks spree. First he drives his car to the parking garage under the restaurant, leaving his car keys inside. The time is 10 pm and he goes inside the kitchen and prepares a dish which he puts inside the convection oven and then sets the timer to start later. He strews some cut vegetables on the table, leaves the water running, and artfully tosses his apron on the counter. He then gets into a taxi.
Jae Hee drives Doctor Chun’s car up to his house, with dead Doctor Chun in the backseat. There is a huge truck trailer parked in the driveway that Jae Hee opens up so he can drive Doctor Chun’s car into the cab. Jae Hee locks the cab and goes to unscrew the license plate of the truck and putting on a different license plate. Jae Hee gets into the truck and drives off with it. Back in the kitchen of his restaurant, the time is 11:30 and the oven starts cooking the dish inside.
Jae Hee stops the truck in the countryside and the time is 11:50 pm. He drives Doctor Chun’s car out of the cab before opening up the backseat to pour soju over Doctor Chun. Jae Hee flashes back to cooking in his kitchen and watching a locked up Doctor Chun on his CCTV feed to his tablet. Doctor Chun speaks to the camera and says a strange phrase “the golden fish wants to see the lonely man.” Jae Hee turns to stares at Doctor Chun in the backseat one last time before climbing back into the truck.
A call comes into one of the cell phones and Jae Hee takes the call from a substitute driver. He tells the driver that the car keys and money are inside the car. The driver is in the parking garage under Jae Hee’s restaurant and is going to be driving Jae Hee’s car for him. The driver pulls out and Jae Hee’s chef notices the car leaving and calls Jae Hee.
Jae Hee gets a call from his chef wondering where he’s going? Jae Hee lies that he’s driving home to get a sauce he needs for a dish. Jae Hee tells the chef that he started the oven 20 minutes ago so in another 20 minutes the chef needs to flip the meat for him. He tells the chef that it’ll take him about an hour to get back. Jae Hee drives off in the truck and the convection oven clock reads 11:58 pm. The assistant chef goes inside the kitchen and checks on the dish.
Jae Hee has parked the truck at a highway rest stop and watches as the substitute driver pulls into the same lot with Jae Hee’s own car. Jae Hee tells the driver over the phone that he’s on his way so the driver can just leave the car. The driver walks off and Jae Hee gets out of the truck and first disposes of one of the cell phones. He takes out the sim car and throws the items away separately.
Jae Hee drives his own car back to the restaurant and the time is 12:30 am. His assistant chef comes out to help grab the items from the trunk and muses that it took Jae Hee for the round trip to his house. Jae Hee laughs and wishes that the trip could be so fast during the daytime as well. The chef and Jae Hee discuss about keeping their actions tonight a secret since they are working on new menu items. After the chef heads into the restaurant, Jae Hee shuts the car trunk and says to himself “Of course no one can know about this.”
In the morning, Jae Hee is on the phone with the kitchen appliance lady, telling her to leave the old appliances there and also to drive the truck away this afternoon. Cho Rim arrives to work at the restaurant and greets Jae Hee sitting in the dining room. Jae Hee just stares at her cluelessly and we finally see why. Jae Hee has face blindness (prosopagnosia) and when he looks at Cho Rim her features constantly morph in his eyes. Only when Cho Rim greets him does he recognize her from her voice.
Cho Rim explains she’s here early today at the request of the assistant chef who wanted her to come help clean up the kitchen. Cho Rim wonders if Jae Hee isn’t tired from working all night and he suggests they have a cup of coffee. Jae Hee asks if Cho Rim didn’t find something off when she greeted him? Jae Hee explains his face blindness condition that makes it impossible for him to recognize people on sight.
Cho Rim worries that the condition causes problems for Jae Hee as a chef needing to greet people all the time, folks will think he’s being rude and ignoring them. Jae Hee suggests Cho Rim can help him, she can stick by his side and when people approach tell him who that person is. Jae Hee explains he’s not asking Cho Rim this favor as her boss and she can say no but Cho Rim is happy to help.
Cho Rim’s best friend Ae Ri has been dragged to the police station and accused by her boss of stealing money from the store. Ae Ri insists on her innocence and claims another girl Myung Ok was at the store yesterday. Myung Ok insists she never went to the store yesterday and she was with her boyfriend on a date in Incheon the entire time. She shows pictures on her cell phone of the date.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak watch the interview and she can tell Myung Ok is lying because her body temperature is rising which makes her scent trail intensify. Plus her hands are clammy because she’s nervous which indicates she’s lying. The police review Myung Ok’s pictures and believe that she has an alibi so the boss keeps hounding Ae Ri who cries that she may be poor but she’s never stolen anything.
Ae Ri is feeling so wronged that Myung Ok took all those pictures in Incheon to cover her tracks and now everyone believes her. Moo Gak points out the only way to clear Ae Ri’s name is to find evidence that breaks Myung Ok’s alibi. Ae Ri is optimistic that Moo Gak believes her and Cho Rim vows to do her best to help Ae Ri. She doesn’t think Cho Rim can do enough by herself and gives Moo Gak the best “help me look” until he agrees.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak retrace Myung Ok and her boyfriend’s picture date through Incheon, snapping the same pics each step of the way to find out where Myung Ok could have made a mistake. Moo Gak nitpicks that Cho Rim isn’t taking pictures exactly the same so at the next stop Cho Rim makes Moo Gak do it exactly the same LOL.
At the lunch stop, Moo Gak wants to order more dishes but Cho Rim cancels it because they need to do everything to match Myung Ok’s timeline. Moo Gak gets Cho Rim back the next time when she wants to take a bathroom stop and he won’t let her. They buy tasty buns and then head to an amusement park, complete with even more cute couples pics.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are on a ride through the park and realize that so far all their pictures and time matches up to Myung Ok’s alibi. Moo Gak wants to stop now but Cho Rim explains that Ae Ri was her only friend in school when everyone laughed at her for being a freak with her one colored eye.
Moo Gak continues the alibi quest but Cho Rim pauses at recreating the next picture because Myung Ok and her boyfriend are kissing. Moo Gak tries to act all cool and says they should recreate every picture like she said so Cho Rim calls him on the bluff. Moo Gak gets really close but hesitates until a perfectly timed bumped leads to an inadvertent kiss.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim break apart and both agree that the kiss is just collecting evidence. Moo Gak keeps chanting “collecting evidence” will doing pushups on the seat in front of him while Cho Rim holds her blushing cheeks and fans herself. They are sooooo cute!
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are looking for the final stop at a curry house but can’t find it anywhere. All the walking in high heels finally catches up to Cho Rim so Moo Gak steers her to the shoe store to buy a comfy pair of sneakers. The store lady naturally assumes Moo Gak is Cho Rim’s boyfriend which gets her all happy and giddy while explaining that he’s not her boyfriend.
Cho Rim suddenly notices the scent trail inside the store smells of curry, the walls all smell of curry but the shoes inside don’t. The store clerk explains that the shoe store opened a week ago and prior to that it was a curry house run by her sister. She shows them a picture of the curry house that used to operate there.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim go back to the police station with their proof that Myung Ok’s alibi is a lie, her trip to Incheon was not yesterday but weeks ago. Myung Ok admits she stole the money and is arrested. Ae Ri’s boss apologizes to her but she quits her job on the spot, refusing to work for a boss that suspects his own employee and is never at the store.
Ae Ri thanks Cho Rim and Moo Gak with free dining certificates but declines their invitation to eat with them, explaining that she needs to go look for a new boss now that she just quit her job.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are walking to his car parked in the garage when he recognizes the license plate of a car parked nearby as belonging to Doctor Chun. Moo Gak runs over and sees Doctor Chun in the backseat. But when he opens the car door, Doctor Chun’s arm limply falls out. Cho Rim looks stricken to see Doctor Chun dead and Moo Gak orders her to look away. Moo Gak cries while yelling at Doctor Chun for dying on him like this after killing his sister.
The police descend on the crime scene to collect the evidence. Moo Gak explains that there was a strong soju smell when he first opened the door. Some cops think Doctor Chun committed suicide because the cops were closing in on him. But another detective thinks it can’t be a suicide since he’s in the backseat of the car. The CSI discovers a bar code carved into his arm, revealing Doctor Chun to be the latest victim of the bar code killer.
Moo Gak steps aside with Cho Rim and she asks if his sister was a victim of the serial killer? His silence is answer enough and Cho Rim offers to do whatever she can to help him solve the case. She offers to go back and look at Doctor Chun to see what scents are left on him. Cho Rim sees alcohol coming from Doctor Chun but also another scent she can’t place. It’s a scent she has never seen before.
The detectives check the CCTV footage of the police station and see Doctor Chun’s car being driven into the parking garage before a man gets out of the driver’s seat. The man’s fingerprints are matched to a guy with a criminal record for prior assault. The man is taken into custody and he explains driving the car on a substitute driver assignment.
The man explains getting a call to drive the car and he did see Doctor Chun in the backseat but thought he was passed out drunk. The cops take him to the spot where he picked up the car and track the call to a disposable cell phone. An ahjumma working at the fishing pond recalls seeing the car parked there the night before and remembers it because the car was blocking the fishing pond sign. The car wasn’t there when she left at 11:30 but was there when she came back 30 minutes later to grab her purse.
Jae Hee sits inside drinking wine and thinking back to what Doctor Chun said to him “the golden fish wants to see the lonely man.” Cho Rim closes out the restaurant for the night and thinks Jae Hee is feeling sad because his friend Doctor Chun died. Moo Gak arrives and Jae Hee stares without recognizing him until Cho Rim calls out Detective Choi.
Moo Gak asks to speak alone with Jae Hee so Cho Rim takes her leave. Jae Hee acts all helpful and tells Moo Gak to ask him anything. Moo Gak wants to know where Jae Hee was on Saturday night between 11pm to midnight. Jae Hee explains he was working at the restaurant with his assistant chef.
The chef is brought out and explains he arrived at the restaurant at 11:15 pm and saw Jae Hee drive out in car to go home and pick up condiments. The chef claims he saw Jae Hee drive off with his own eyes and also called to confirm. He says Jae Hee took 40 minutes to make the round trip and came back at 12:30 am, and after that they worked in the kitchen all night. Jae Hee chimes in that he saw Cho Rim in the morning and had a cup of coffee with her. Moo Gak apologizes for having to ask these questions and takes his leave.
Moo Gak reports to Detective Yeom that Jae Hee has an airtight alibi during the time frame when Doctor Chun’s body was moved to outside the fishing pond. Jae Hee stands in his yard and looks through Doctor Chun’s documents before burning it all. Moo Gak wonders what Doctor Chun wanted to say to him that night?
Moo Gak gets the name of the storage company where Doctor Chun is keeping his belongings. He drives over there and answers a call from Cho Rim who is making kimbap and wants to know when Moo Gak is off work. He needs another hour so they make plans to meet at the park in an hour.
Jae Hee is at the storage container already and picks the lock to Doctor Chun’s unit. Jae Hee looks through Doctor Chun’s books and takes one. Moo Gak arrives at the container moments after Jae Hee walks out. He gets a call from Detective Ki outside the container so now Jae Hee knows who he is. Moo Gak enters the container and notices that a rope is swinging which means someone was just there.
Moo Gak runs around the container yard and is bumped in the dark. He looks over at the hooded person walking away from him and then looks down to see a clean incision on his torso as it starts to bleed. Moo Gak collapses on the ground and watches as the person who stabbed him walks away.
Cho Rim sits in the park with the kimbap she made, waiting for the Moo Gak who can’t come now.
Thoughts of Mine:
I know Moo Gak can’t and won’t die midway through the drama but that doesn’t lessen the gut punch reaction of seeing him stabbed. That’s how much the drama has made me care for him, like I’ve come to care for Cho Rim even if they are just fictional creations. Moo Gak’s backstory is so sad, especially because there is no rhyme or reason to what happened other than bad luck. Now he’s in the heat of things and when bad things happen to him, it’s something I dread because it’s so very likely that Jae Hee will try to take out Moo Gak. I do wonder why Jae Hee acted in that moment rather than simply getting away. I’ll assume he can’t get away unless he incapacitates Moo Gak because acting outside his serial killing routine is a recipe for tripping up. I’ll miss Doctor Chun, the first bar code victim that I feel anything for since he’s the only one we got to know before he bit the dust. I’m impressed he held it together to screw with Jae Hee’s mind by leaving that strange verse. This drama has done such a great job with the clues and fresh reveals, I’m super curious what the purpose of Doctor Chun’s final words were since he clearly knew he was going to die no matter what.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak continue to be sweet and tart personified, their snarky banter covering what is growing consideration for each other. To hear that Cho Rim dismissed Moo Gak from being her comedy partner because she didn’t want to burden him with having to pull out laughs from others was such a Cho Rim thing to do. She doesn’t just see smells, she sees into the feelings of others and acts accordingly to help without being asked to. That Moo Gak usually learns what latest nice thing Cho Rim did for him is just icing on the cake, same with her getting to spend time with him because he’s looking out for her. When she’s sad he takes her out to cheer her up without ever having to say it explicitly. I love this type of unspoken caring, the kind that doesn’t do it to get acknowledgment but does it for a purpose. Ae Ri’s stealing allegation was the perfect little investigating interlude to give the couple a chance to act out a date and still call it police work. It also gave us a breather after following along with Jae Hee’s precision timed alibi crafting, the very antithesis of the clumsy way the real culprit who stole money from the store tried to alibi herself. It’s not easy being a criminal but Jae Hee makes it look like a walk in the park. He can kill without even breaking a sweat or blinking an eyelash, that’s what makes me love his character more because he’s evil to the nth degree.
The reveal of Jae Hee’s face blindness disorder (prosopagnosia) fills in one of the glaring questions everyone had since episode 1, namely why the bar code killer would mistakenly kill Moo Gak’s little sister Eun Seol despite having seeing Cho Rim’s face. Now we have the answer that it’s beyond perfect. Jae Hee could never recognize Cho Rim as the sea diving couple’s daughter Eun Seol, not then and not now. The only way he’ll be able to connect her is through hearing about it from another source that Cho Rim was the eyewitness from three years ago. I think Jae Hee’s face blindness also underlies his sociapathic coldness in killing without remorse. If he can’t recognize people then it’s hard for him to form connections with others, and whatever psychological issue led to him deciding to kill, not being able to recognize his victims faces adds to his emotional distance from viewing them with humanity. I wonder why he told Cho Rim about his condition, and why he’s keeping her close if he doesn’t know who she really is yet. The worst case scenario is that he’s sizing her up as his next victim, and the way Jae Hee stares at people makes me shudder because he’s like a chef sizing up a good cut of meat. Moo Gak needs to get better STAT to keep his Cho Rim safe.
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