This was a slower episode of The Girl Who Sees Smells, with no major breakthroughs on the investigation side but one delayed step forward on the romance side. There is hand holding, sweet sleepless texting, jealousy and worry bundling together, and the very dreaded male reluctance to explain things clearly butting up against the female desire to have certainty. Moo Gak and Cho Rim are now hands down my favorite K-drama OTP of 2015, a position that can be supplanted with other drama pairings to come, but for now their romance is wonderful personified.
Moo Gak seems rather bland on paper but onscreen comes alive with Yoochun’s mixture of deadpan awareness and reticent caring. Cho Rim is like the sun and Moo Gak the quiet plant soaking in her life restoring rays, except she probably needs way more coddling than he realizes. Thank god Moo Gak isn’t incapable of being a doting guy, the way he loved little sister Eun Seol shows us the depth and breadth of what he’s like when he cares about something wholeheartedly. Which makes the stakes so much higher, knowing that Jae Hee is so close to Cho Rim and may even harbor nefarious intentions for her without needing to know she’s the real Choi Eun Seol. Can someone lock this guy away ASAP.
Episode 9 recap:
Cho Rim takes a sip of the abalone and seaweed soup Jae Hee made from her mom’s recipe, triggering a remembrance to the face of a woman and bringing her to tears. Moo Gak immediately moves next to Cho Rim to comfort her.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak sit at the park to discuss what just happened, how Cho Rim drank the soup and saw the face of a fortysomething woman that she doesn’t recognize. She really wants to remember the person, as well as remember what happened to her and the life prior to the accident. She doesn’t even know if the woman she saw in her mind is someone she likes or dislikes so she’s feeling scared about this blank space in her memories.
Moo Gak wordlessly reaches his hand over to take Cho Rim’s hand in his, assuring her with his actions that he’s there for her. They walk home hand in hand, with Moo Gak urging Cho Rim to hold onto this memory and try to find out more about it before she forgets. Cho Rim vows to hold on to this memory.
Jae Hee sits in his lair and looks at the ripped off name tag that reads Choi Eun Seol. Flashback to the night of Cho Rim’s parents murder reveals the attack and subsequent car accident scene from the perspective where Jae Hee’s face is shown as the bar code killer. When he was strangling Cho Rim, his face blindness caused him to distort her face confirming that he would not be able to recognize her on sight.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim stroll back to her house and she stops him to point out that this is the 5th time they’ve walked past the house. Methinks someone wants to keep on walking in circles, so cute! Moo Gak complains about the neighborhood being too small and reluctantly lets go of Cho Rim’s hand so she can go inside. Both still linger until Moo Gak grabs Cho Rim’s hand again to ask if she can sleep tonight alone after what she just experienced?
Cho Rim plays it up and wonders if she’ll have trouble sleeping so Moo Gak offers to go inside and keep her company until she falls asleep. LOL so magnanimous of him! Cho Rim wonders if Moo Gak isn’t tired and he’s not only not tired, he’s feeling super energetic right now.
Cho Rim plops a tent down in the living for Moo Gak to stay in while waiting for her to fall asleep. Moo Gak hides his disappointment and the two promise to text each other whether Cho Rim is asleep yet. Cho Rim goes into her room and loudly locks the door on Moo Gak who is none too happy to be treated like a danger to her. He texts asking if she locked the door, she responds that he’ll be gone after she falls asleep so she needs to lock the door now, to which he responds that she did the right thing.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak have a sleepless night of continued texting, with Moo Gak texting whether she’s fallen asleep and Cho Rim texting back that she’s still awake. This goes on back-and-forth the entire time until it’s morning time and an exhausted Moo Gak texts asking if Cho Rim is asleep and Cho Rim texts back that she’s not asleep.
Cho Rim sits with Moo Gak at the composite sketch room at the police station so Cho Rim can describe the face of the woman she saw last night while Moo Gak creates the sketch. Cho Rim questions Moo Gak’s composite sketch making ability for creating a face that looks nothing like what Cho Rim saw. They are asked to vacate the room so another team can use it for a case and the two bicker all the way through the police station.
Detective Yeom sees Moo Gak and Cho Rim leaving the composite sketch room and hears from another cop that Moo Gak borrowed the software for a personal matter.
The cops have matched up the same delivery truck used in transporting Mari’s car and Doctor Chun’s car, despite the different license plate numbers which confirms the killer is very thorough and changed it. Too bad they can’t get a clear picture of the killer’s face from the CCTV cameras on the highway plust there are too many this type of trucks in the country to narrow down. The cops realize the killer may be one step ahead of them so the next plan is to lure the killer to them.
Jae Hee hires a private investigator to track down the whereabouts of the real Choi Eun Seol. He goes to the Jeju hospital to ask for Cho Rim’s medical records and the administrator quickly calls Moo Gak to alert him that someone is asking for those records. Moo Gak relays this to Detective Yeom and they decide to set a trap for the killer once he tracks the real Choi Eun Seol to the Seoul hospital where she was transferred.
The private investigator calls Jae Hee to report that Choi Eun Seol was transferred to a hospital in Seoul. Detective Yeom and Moo Gak share their plan with the rest of the detectives, with the plan being confirmed when the hospital calls to relay that someone was just there asking for Choi Eun Seol’s medical records. The cops have the hospital switch out the records for fake information about where Choi Eun Seol is residing now.
The cops wait outside a residence prepped as the trap to catch the killer once he follows the fake medical records to this address to look for Choi Eun Seol. This time, instead of Detective Ki getting a call from his Russian girlfriend who seems to always call when he’s on duty, Moo Gak gets a call from Cho Rim and he totally relishes answering it to explain he’s doing a dangerous stakeout right now. Team leader Kang worries whether the killer will take the bait while Detective Yeom is certain he’ll play into their hands.
Two local neighborhood cops spot the guys sitting in the dark and ask to see their IDs only to be shoo’d away. Detective Yeom orders the lady detective pretending to be Choi Eun Seol to leave the residence and the moment she steps out is where a guy follows her and calls out “Choi Eun Seol?” The cops tackle the guy but Moo Gak senses another presence. He looks up and sees a hooded figure in the distance take off, the real killer who sent in a decoy first to test the waters.
The guy paid to act as the fake decoy explains he was hired to just follow the girl coming out of the residence and call out “Choi Eun Seol”. He didn’t see the guy who hired him as he walked up behind him and shoved the money in his hand with the assignment.
Moo Gak chases after the real killer as they run through the alleys of the neighborhood. The chase ends up inside a residence but the killer gets away by climbing through the window and losing Moo Gak out in the open street when Moo Gak gets hit by a braking car in the intersection. Moo Gak explains the killer got away but injured his arm climbing out the window. He runs back to the window and finds blood left on an exposed beam, netting the cops a DNA sample to nab the killer.
The cops take the blood sample back to forensic and wait on the results. Detective Yeom suspects Jae Hee based on his closeness to two of the victims, Mari and Doctor Chun, arguing that they need to get a search warrant for him ready to match the blood sample. Plus the description of the body and voice of the killer resembles Jae Hee. Team leader Kang plays devil’s advocate, pointing out Jae Hee has an alibi for both killings.
Detective Yeom pays Jae Hee a visit at the restaurant and the conversation is about why Jae Hee doesn’t look for his birth parents in Korea? He choses not to answer that question so Detective Yeom asks about him being adopted at age 3 by an American couple and raised in the US. She hears that Jae Hee has been back in Korea for the last 6 years after his adoptive parents died. Oooooh, those two must be victims 0 in the book number.
Detective Yeom probes whether they died of an accident and Jae Hee says both parents dying at the same time clearly indicates an accident. Detective Yeom follows up and asks if Jae Hee’s adopted parents were murdered? Jae Hee says they died in a camping fire accident caused by smoking, as his adoptive father smoked cigars. He chides Detective Yeom for assuming he was an abused adopted child which is an insult to him and his adopted parents. They were good to him and he has no ill feelings towards them. Detective Yeom apologizes for asking that.
Jae Hee turns the tables and wants to know why Detective Yeom became a cop? Was it because someone in her family was killed? She reveals it was her father so Jae Hee wonders if because of that she can’t sleep now without her door open and always sits in the last row so no one is behind her. Detective Yeom doesn’t bite and asks to hear a good memory Jae Hee has with his adopted dad but Jae Hee doesn’t want to talk about his father when it’s Detective Yeom who has daddy issues.
Detective Yeom wonders why Jae Hee is still wearing a jacket indoors when it’s so hot and he has to work in a warm kitchen? Is he hiding anything? Jae Hee takes off his jacket and reveals a bandaged up right arm. Detective Yeom wants to know how Jae Hee got injured and he described the dangerous environs of a kitchen with many things that can injure. Jae Hee doesn’t understand why Detective Yeom suspects him but feels interested in knowing more about her now.
Detective Yeom leaves the meeting with Jae Hee and rushes back to the police station to tell them that Jae Hee has an arm injury at the same spot where the killer got injured. She orders a search warrant to get Jae Hee’s DNA and gets ready to match it with the one left by the killer the night before.
Moo Gak and the detectives barge into Jae Hee’s home and wave the search warrant around demanding to take a sample of his DNA. Jae Hee refuses to cooperate until he hears a reason, acting surprised that he’s a suspected serial killer. Moo Gak grabs Jae Hee by the collar and demands to know how he injured his arm? Jae Hee shows Moo Gak the injury and explains it was caused by a kitchen prong, warning Moo Gak that he will have to answer for this insult. He allows the cops to take his DNA and doesn’t look worried in the least.
Detective Yeom orders the team to keep Jae Hee under surveillance in case he tries to leave the country or escape. Moo Gak wonders why Detective Yeom started to really suspect Jae Hee and hears it was after her meeting with him today.
Cho Rim is cleaning the frog troupe and tells troupe leader that she turned down a chance to be on a TV show because she wants to stay here and make it. Troupe leader chides her for turning down a chance any of the other troupe members would jump at since everyone wants to end up on TV. Cho Rim’s sunbae is even more stunned when she hears that the program is Jae Hee’s cooking show.
Cho Rim auditions for the program and the PD likes her performance enough to give her the job to narrative Jae Hee’s show. He congratulates Cho Rim on getting the job and she offers to cook for Jae Hee at the restaurant so he gets to be the diner for once. Jae Hee pauses before accepting Cho Rim’s offer.
The cops are a nervous wreck until the DNA report comes out. Unfortunately Jae Hee’s DNA is not a match for the DNA left by the killer at the chase scene. Detective Yeom and Moo Gak are both upset while the other detectives wonder if they’ve been barking up the wrong tree and need to apologize to Jae Hee now. Detective Yeom apologizes to her team for her suspicion being wrong.
Moo Gak offers to go apologize to Jae Hee on behalf of the team. He bows his head to apologize to Jae Hee for the cops wrongfully suspecting him. Jae Hee asks to borrow Moo Gak’s phone to call his own misplaced cell phone. Jae Hee downloads a spyware app on Moo Gak’s phone while he’s pretending to call his own cell. The download is taking long so Jae Hee offers Moo Gak a glass of wine to delay his departure until the download finishes.
Jae Hee makes small talk, wondering why Moo Gak is here empty handed to apologize when he came with a search warrant last time? Jae Hee plays nice, accepting Moo Gak’s apology for suspecting him because he’s close to two victims. He goads Moo Gak that it may be a logical leap but cops are supposed to be above thinking like regular people. Jae Hee brings up this being the second time Moo Gak has come to apologize, warning that the third time he won’t accept it. Moo Gak apologizes again and gets up to leave, taking his cell phone and finding nothing weird on it as the spy app has finished downloading. Jae Hee asks Moo Gak to come with Cho Rim next time so it’s not a bad meeting.
Jae Hee changes his bandage and flashes back to the chase scene. Turns out there was another decoy, the one Moo Gak was chasing, while Jae Hee hides in the background and observes it all. The blood collected at the scene was from the second decoy getting injured and not Jae Hee. After the chase was over, Jae Hee went home and used a two pronged fork to self-inflict a wound in the same spot. Ugh, he’s so diabolical.
Cho Rim hangs out with Ae Ri at the coffee shop and tries out a new cold coffee drink in a champagne glass. Cho Rim is nervous about tomorrow’s first show recording so Ae Ri suggests she take her new boyfriend along to keep her company. Cho Rim explains they aren’t dating which makes Ae Ri upset for her that Moo Gak is a kiss and run type of guy. She offers to call Moo Gak for Cho Rim and takes her phone to dial. Cho Rim hangs up quickly but Ae Ri’s work is done as Moo Gak calls back in less than 3 seconds.
Cho Rim runs to meet up with Moo Gak and the two had to a store to shop for a new outfit for Cho Rim’s recording tomorrow. Moo Gak doesn’t seem all that pleased with his girl getting all dolled up for Jae Hee’s program but waits patiently as she tries on dress after dress. Cho Rim settles on a neon green dress that gets Moo Gak’s approval. Moo Gak ends up buying all three dresses Cho Rim liked for her.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are waiting for the bus and she thanks him for the dresses, promising to pay him back after she gets paid for the new job. Moo Gak wants Cho Rim not to do the gig but doesn’t explain his suspicions of Jae Hee. Cho Rim wants to know why but all Moo Gak can do is ask Cho Rim not to do it and trust him.
Cho Rim wants to know what her relationship is to Moo Gak that he can order her what to do and what not to know. This is a big step for her so how can he just tell her not to do it without any reason. Moo Gak insists he is looking out for her but Cho Rim demands to know why what their relationship is defined as that he thinks he can ask this of her. Cho Rim tells Moo Gak that he made her feel bad and then gets on the bus to leave.
Detective Yeom is at the police shooting range to let out some steam. She runs into Cho Rim and says Moo Gak has already left. Cho Rim insists she isn’t here to see Moo Gak and asks to have dinner with Detective Yeom. She suggests having a drink instead and the two head off.
Cho Rim takes a drink and reveals she lied about coming to the police station to see Detective Yeom. She actually came to leave the three bags of clothes on Moo Gak’s desk since he paid for it. Detective Yeom thinks she should keep it because he bought it for her, wondering why they are fighting right now? Moo Gak isn’t her boyfriend so what right does he have to tell her what to do? Detective Yeom’s clever questions induce Cho Rim to blurt out what she’s really upset about, that Moo Gak doesn’t come out and ask to be her boyfriend.
Cho Rim drinks while chewing out Moo Gak for being do difficult. Detective Yeom promises to keep this between the two of them and then asks why Cho Rim was in the composite sketch room. She hears Cho Rim is looking for someone.
Detective Yeom accompanies Cho Rim to the sketch room and does a much better job of drawing up the face of the woman Cho Rim saw in her mind. Detective Yeom is amazed to hear of Cho Rim’s past, seeing how cheerful and optimistic she always acts it’s hard to imagine Cho Rim has such a sad past. Cho Rim admits she likely overcompensates to help herself deal with the pain. Cho Rim calls it a night and the two agree to meet here tomorrow night to finish up the sketch. Cho Rim takes a look at the current draft and points out the feeling is different, the face is smiling but also exhibits weariness.
Jae Hee’s spy tap on Moo Gak’s phone is working as he’s able to eavesdrop on Moo Gak’s call with another department to order more supplies.
Cho Rim arrives at the recording studio and enters the dressing room to change and get ready. She finds a box waiting for her containing a present from Jae Hee celebrating her first recording. Inside is a lovely dress and Cho Rim pauses to admire it. She gets a text from Moo Gak telling her which of the three dresses he finds least weird. Cho Rim purposely decides on that dress for the recording.
Jae Hee is getting prepped and checks his phone when a new alert comes in. He reads the text Moo Gak just sent Cho Rim and looks displeased.
Jae Hee takes note of Cho Rim wearing the dress from Moo Gak when she joins him for the recording. Cho Rim thanks Jae Hee for the present, finding it too lovely to wear now when she’s just a nobody. She wants to wear it later when she makes something of herself. Jae Hee seems fine with it and just encourages Cho Rim to not be nervous and do her best.
Cho Rim is eating ramyun at home while loudly bitching out Moo Gak. She declined a dinner after the recording to call him but he just hung up on her. She wants to declare him out but then gets a text from him to come out as he’s right outside her house. Cho Rim refuses to be at his best and call, tossing her phone aside and going back to eating her ramyun. But she can’t stay mad long and gives herself the excuse to go out and hear what he has to say. She considers changing but decides not to since he’s not her boyfriend or anything like that.
Moo Gak asks how the recording went and hears it went well and she’s eating ramyun now. He explains that he was in an important meeting when he called so that’s why he hung up on her. Cho Rim lies that she called him on accident but Moo Gak calls her on being mad at him. He orders her to look at him before asking what he should call her?
Cho Rim points out that she has a name and all. Moo Gak clarifies that people dating have nicknames for each other, right? He orders Cho Rim to choose between sweetheart, lover, girlfriend, or lady love. Cho Rim is about to burst with happiness before realizing how unkempt she looks right now. She’s all embarrassed and wants to go back home to change first before having Moo Gak say what he just said again.
Moo Gak takes Cho Rim’s hand and tells her no need as he’s seen her already. He walks off with Cho Rim in hand wanting to go show his girlfriend off. Cho Rim wants to go home to change first before going to the police station to meet Detective Yeom to finish the sketch. Moo Gak offers to go home so she can change and then accompany her to the police station.
Detective Yeom finishes the sketch based on Cho Rim’s descriptions and finds the finished image strikingly familiar. She pulls up the file on Cho Rim’s mom and matches the composite sketch to her picture perfectly. Moo Gak and Cho Rim arrive at the police station then and walk in to see Detective Yeom staring at Cho Rim in shock.
Thoughts of Mine:
Smelly Girl is starting to slow down a bit in the addictiveness, nothing so dire as to shake my faith in this drama staying good or even how much I personally love it. The criminal aspect requires such precision to execute the second half, what with the police investigation closing in on Jae Hee but the narrative needs to keep him one step ahead of the cops until the final episodes. With that comes some questionable maneuvers on both sides, with Jae Hee outwitting the cops way too easily in this episode, even going so far as to used decoy blood and injure himself to raise the suspicion before effectively killing it. I think he’s methods remain consistent, he’s such a cold calculating serial killer, it’s just hard to see the cops keep getting outplayed for the sake of keeping the danger clear and present. I also see Jae Hee being purposely too shady, especially when he talks to Detective Yeom and Moo Gak, if it is to rouse the suspicion so he can end it, that seems like a slippery slope to attempt since the outcome could lead to full blown police eyes on him. I like how incisive Detective Yeom is even if she can’t nab Jae Hee yet, at least she’s on the right path and with Moo Gak assisting her they aren’t the blind leading the blind.
This episode pulled back the curtains on Jae Hee’s backstory a tiny bit, finding out he was adopted young and raised in the US. Clearly his homicidal tendencies started there but the reason for his return to Korea to start a detailed and precise killing spree remains an interesting psychological study. I also wonder what his interest in Cho Rim really is about? Part of me wants Jae Hee to fall for Cho Rim to see what will happen when his human side comes into conflict with his killing streak. But I don’t see that happening since he appears incapable of empathy much less love, he apes all the gestures and words of a good guy to the point that it comes across like a well-worn patently fake act. Seeing Jae Hee have some inner struggle would be fascinating to flesh out his character, but even then it change anything due to the magnitude of his evil acts. I think his interest in Cho Rim may be his desire to control people who come into his life, and perhaps keeping her around in particular is related to her connection with Moo Gak who is investigating the bar code killings. Whatever the reason, the danger level is rising around Cho Rim as Jae Hee gets closer to finding her.
Thankfully Moo Gak claimed his new girlfriend Cho Rim at long last, openly staking his claim and protection on her. Every detail of their romantic engagement in this episode was beyond perfect, funny and sweet at the same time. Moo Gak’s worry and affection for Cho Rim is so patently obvious, I think it’s just Cho Rim needing open confirmation more than she doubts the meaning behind what he does for her. The spending the night bit was adorable as they both struggled to keep him in the house at the expense of sleep. I also loved that Moo Gak does his job as it needs to be done, sometimes ignoring Cho Rim because he doesn’t have time for her, which she understandably gets upset but then they are having the kind of realistic relationship that makes their connection more relatable. I don’t think Moo Gak could have done more to keep Cho Rim from doing the TV show, and she’s already in Jae Hee’s periphery so one more reason for her to see him doesn’t make a difference unless Moo Gak can tell Cho Rim the real reason he wants to keep her away from Jae Hee. Without harder evidence it’s going to be near impossible to keep suspecting Jae Hee, which might give him the room to plot his next kill and that could be the opening to stop him. At least I hope they succeed in stopping him from adding to his kill library, anything less and these cops need to be replaced with a smarter squad.
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