This episode of The Girl Who Sees Smells might as well be titled “he knows, she knows, they all know, everyone knows, so now what?” I feel the drama has enough gas in the tank to propel the remainder of the narrative without deflating now that the secrets are out of the bag. Frankly speaking, this drama didn’t exactly have secrets that people were intentionally keeping, it was just a series of major coincidences that tie characters together in ways they didn’t know about initially. I am torn on how the drama dealt with the fallout reveal, the usual bouts of distance and noble idiocy, but thankfully Moo Gak getting over the issues beyond his control quicker than Cho Rim.
Part of me thinks Jae Hee wants or is ready to be caught, why else would he blatantly goad Moo Gak and play word games with him. But then again, the profile of a megalomaniacal serial killer usually includes being too cocky and wanting recognition for his smarts in killing people without being caught outright. I wish the cops had some excuse to jail Jae Hee now and look for evidence later, which is anathema to all my due process procedural drilling, but for the sake of characters I love in this drama I’m willing to suspend proper protocol if it means getting him off the streets. Detective Yeom also needs to have triple duty protection around Cho Rim instead of allowing her to wander off alone, at this point the girl needs to be under lock and key, preferably chained to her boyfriend’s side.
Episode 11 recap:
Jae Hee catches Cho Rim reading Doctor Chun’s letter and asks what she’s doing? Cho Rim crumples up the letter and hides it behind her back, explaining that she was just reading her dialogue to prepare because she’s nervous. She apologizes for the books strewn on the floor and the production staff comes up to get them and that saves Cho Rim from any further questioning by Jae Hee.
Moo Gak doesn’t take his dismissal from the squad laying down, pounding on the door of the team meeting that he’s locked out of and yelling to be told why he’s being kicked out of the team. Team leader Kang tries to calm the situation down, sending the other two detectives to drag Moo Gak away. They order Moo Gak to go home for now and they are on his side and will try to find out from Detective Yeom why he’s being kicked out.
The detectives confront Detective Yeom about Moo Gak’s dismissal so she tells them that Moo Gak is a family member of a bar code victim. The high school student who was mistakenly killed as the eyewitness is Moo Gak’s little sister and only family member. Moo Gak’s ultimate revenge for the killer of his sister is the bar code killer so he can’t remain on the team because his emotions are involved.
Cho Rim rereads Doctor Chun’s letter on the bus ride home and also remembers a production staffer calling her Choi Eun Seol. She calls Moo Gak and is surprised to hear that he’s home during the day. Cho Rim finds Moo Gak drinking in his apartment and hears he got kicked out of the investigation team. It was Detective Yeom who kicked him out and refused to tell him why.
Cho Rim takes Moo Gak’s hand to comfort him as he explains how his sister’s death was not as an official bar code killer victim so Detective Yeom allowed him initially to stay on the team so he doesn’t know why she suddenly changed her mind. Chi Rim decides not to talk with Moo Gak about her own situation seeing that he’s stressed out enough. Moo Gak suggests going for a walk by the river but Cho Rim declines so that she can go see her dad right now.
Cho Rim pays her dad a visit and cuts to the chase, asking if her name isn’t Oh Cho Rim and is really Choi Eun Seol? Cho Rim’s dad admits that he’s thought about what to say when this day arrived and truthfully confirms that Cho Rim’s real name is Choi Eun Seol. She was in a car accident three years ago and didn’t have any family members to take care of her. He was the detective on the case and saw Cho Rim as the same age as his daughter would have been but his daughter died when she was five. He decided to adopt Cho Rim and take care of her after she woke up.
Cho Rim asks about her real parents but this time her dad lies that he doesn’t know. Cho Rim cries while thanking her dad for taking care of her. Her dad cries knowing how hard it must be for Cho Rim to have all these questions and not remember her past. Cho Rim hugs her dad and assures him that he will always be her dad even when she finds her real parents.
Moo Gak goes out drinking with the rest of the detectives, minus Detective Yeom. They offer their sympathy for Moo Gak losing his little sister to the killer and now understand why he was so determined to join the major cases squad. They want Moo Gak to hand the killer investigation to them but Moo Gak remains committed to catching the killer himself. Right now he wants the detectives to help him figure some things out.
The detectives invite Detective Yeom to dinner and make the excuse that team leader Kang wants to talk with her. After Detective Yeom leaves with them, Moo Gak sneaks into her office. Detective Yeom isn’t interested in staying just to eat so team leader Kang finds an excuse to ask Detective Yeom about the training needed to become a profiler.
Moo Gak searches through Detective Yeom’s files on the bar code killer victims and comes across the picture of the sea diving couple wife along with the sketch Detective Yeom created of the woman Cho Rim saw in her memory. He connects the two and realizes Cho Rim is the real eyewitness and the daughter of the sea diving couple.
Detective Yeom calls Cho Rim and heads over to her house with some cake to chat about Cho Rim’s lost memories. She offers to help Cho Rim regain her memories but Cho Rim is hesitant to do so. What if her past memories aren’t happy, can’t she live like this now? Cho Rim isn’t interested in regaining those memories and Detective Yeom apologizes for pressing Cho Rim on this issue. Cho Rim asks about Moo Gak’s little sister but is shut down from discussing this topic because it’s sensitive police business.
Moo Gak broods at home digesting the fact that Cho Rim’s real name is Choi Eun Seol and she was the real eyewitness three years ago. Cho Rim also sits at home brooding.
Moo Gak confronts Detective Yeom at work the next morning, asking if she kicked him out of the team because Oh Cho Rim is the real eyewitness that his sister was mistakenly killed for? Detective Yeom is impressed Moo Gak found out the reason himself. Moo Gak brings up how the woman he loves is the reason his sister was killed, and whether Detective Yeom thought he would be distraught and lose focus learning that truth?
Detective Yeom refuses to back down or change her mind despite Moo Gak vowing not to let his emotions get in the way. She doesn’t believe him because he’s acting emotional right now. Moo Gak insists he doesn’t have any emotion towards Cho Rim being the eyewitness but Detective Yeom just walks off ignoring him. Moo Gak heads back to the location where Cho Rim’s dad is hiding out, vowing to see him and get to the truth.
Moo Gak and Jae Hee happen to drive onto a one-way bridge from opposite ends, both stopping and getting out of the car. Moo Gak can’t believe he would run into Jae Hee here, pointing out the countryside isn’t the style for Jae Hee’s restaurants. Moo Gak’s phone rings with a text and a second later Jae Hee’s phone beeps. Jae Hee coyly suggests he’s here because he’s looking for the same thing as Moo Gak.
Moo Gak wonders if they know the same thing, asking if Jae Hee is looking for a certain restaurant. Moo Gak is a cop so he’s looking for an eyewitness. Moo Gak’s phone beeps with another text and one second later Jae Hee’s phone also beeps with another text. They both stare at their phones until Jae Hee suggests they are not discussing the same topic. Moo Gak agrees, as he also thinks they are headed on different paths. Jae Hee wonders what that means and Moo Gak says one path will lead to a dead end.
Moo Gak offers to move his car for Jae Hee to pass first, but not before telling Jae Hee that he knows how Jae Hee found his way here now. Jae Hee gives a slight smile, looks at his phone, and wishes Moo Gak a safe rest of his trip. Moo Gak backs his car off the bridge to let Jae Hee drive past. Inside his car, he stares at his cell phone and realizes Jae Hee put a spy app on it.
Moo Gak arrives at the location and hears from the waitress that Oh Jae Pyo left already and took his belongings with him. We see Cho Rim’s dad waiting somewhere and Jae Hee pulling up. Jae Hee puts the luggage in his car trunk and opens the door for Cho Rim’s dad to get into his car. Noooooo, don’t leave with the scary man!
Moo Gak grabs a bit alone with Detective Ki who thinks Moo Gak likes him the best in the team to take him out to eat. After Detective Ki eats his fill, Moo Gak asks if he can call make a call. Detective Ki is fine with it until he realizes Moo Gak is calling him, which makes him nervous thinking Moo Gak wants to play a couple’s phone game LOL.
Detective Ki answers the phone and Moo Gak says “Are you listening?” Detective Ki is about to get pissed at Moo Gak’s rude comment when Moo Gak continues talking with a dead serious expression. Moo Gak is calling Detective Ki but this conversation is meant for Jae Hee, who he knows is listening in. Moo Gak says “Listen well, soon I will catch you. Don’t even think about finding the eyewitness because I will never let the eyewitness die. Do you want me to tell you who I am talking about? The Choi Eun Seol in the Jeju hospital, that was my little sister. You are I are destined to walk on different paths so one of us must die for this to end. Let’s end this soon.”
Moo Gak hangs up and we see Jae Hee looking frightening as he listens to this conversation. Detective Ki has figured out Moo Gak’s phone was tapped and tells him to quickly restore it to factory settings. He also hears from Moo Gak that Kwon Jae Hee is definitely the bar code killer.
Moo Gak stands across the street from where Cho Rim is waiting for him but doesn’t head over to meet her. She keeps sending messages, wondering where he is and when he’s coming? Moo Gak, don’t stand up your beloved Cho Rim! When the bus pulls up, Moo Gak gets on and leaves Cho Rim still waiting for him.
Cho Rim takes matters into her own hands, walking to the police station to look for Moo Gak. She doesn’t find him there but overhears the other detectives talking about the eyewitness Choi Eun Seol still being alive. She’s also the reason why Moo Gak’s little sister Choi Eun Seol was mistakenly killed. The cops wonder why the real eyewitness Choi Eun Seol doesn’t show herself, and whether she really is dead as listed on the Jeju files from the same hospital where Doctor Chun used to work. Cho Rim realizes she’s the reason Moo Gak’s little sister was mistakenly killed.
Moo Gak takes his brooding to the Han River, staring out at the vast expanse trying to work through his emotions. He pays a visit to the aquarium as well. Cho Rim does her own share of brooding before heading back to her house. She finds Moo Gak waiting outside with a cake, he’s totally normal while teasing her about why she’s home so late on such an important day. He waves the cake and cutely says today is his birthday.
Moo Gak can’t believe his girlfriend would forget his birthday or that he would have to do everything by himself. He apologizes for not meeting her yesterday and she waves it off as him having to work. They head inside to celebrate, with Cho Rim making grilled pancakes for him. Moo Gak points out their compatibility in the kitchen, both being left-handed. He takes out lots of ingredients and wants to make three of everything as that is how things are done in his family. He wants Cho Rim to learn it if she wants to marry him. Moo Gak pulls Cho Rim in for a tight hug before pinching her cheek for being so pretty.
Moo Gak brings over the lit birthday cake and orders Cho Rim to sing louder and revising the song for her to sing “Happy Birthday to My Beloved Boyfriend” instead of calling him by name. Moo Gak blows out the candles and makes a wish. Moo Gak borrows Cho Rim’s cell phone as light to turn on the light, realizing that Cho Rim could see it even in the dark because of the scent trail. Moo Gak is happy to learn from about Cho Rim and wishes to keep learning more about her as time goes on.
Cho Rim is worried about Moo Gak learning things about her that he dislikes, such as when her memory comes back. Moo Gak wants to remember only their life together after they met, the things that happened before she met him doesn’t matter to him. Awwwwww. Cho Rim coldly tells Moo Gak that his birthday is over now so he should go home, ignoring his cute attempts to spend more time together.
Cho Rim walks Moo Gak out but he wants her to go inside and lock the door first. She offers to walk him home today as a special treat because it’s his birthday. Moo Gak happily takes her hand and walks off with his girlfriend.
Cho Rim drops Moo Gak off but he wants to walk her back now. Cho Rim pauses before asking to break up which Moo Gak takes as her joking. Cho Rim claims things should end now, if they keep dating she doesn’t have confidence. Moo Gak presses a reason but Cho Rim doesn’t have one. She claims to have lost that feeling and there is no reason or anything Moo Gak can do about it. She insists he can’t do anything to change her mind.
Moo Gak yells at her for doing this, demanding that she tell the truth because she’s clearly lying. Cho Rim apologizes and insists she is telling the truth before running into a taxi to avoid Moo Gak. Both of them are distraught at home that night, remembering all their times together from the cute first meeting to falling in love.
Cho Rim visits Detective Yeom at the police station the next day wanting to regain her memories so that she can help catch the killer. The other detectives see Cho Rim inside talking with Detective Yeom. Cho Rim insists she wants to do this because she wants to know the truth even if the truth is very painful. Cho Rim knows Moo Gak’s little sister died because of her but Detective Yeom insists Cho Rim bears no blame, it’s all the fault of the killer. Cho Rim begs Detective Yeom to let Moo Gak back on the squad and also keep this conversation a secret.
Detective Yeom tells Cho Rim that she suspects Jae Hee is the bar code killer and doesn’t want Cho Rim involved in anymore activities with Jae Hee. Cho Rim thinks otherwise, that she’s the only one who can get close to Jae Hee now so she wants to continue working with him and asks the police to use her when they need her.
Moo Gak’s repeated calls to Cho Rim go straight to voicemail but then he’s called back to the police station to meet with Detective Yeom. I love how the three other detectives continue to eavesdrop like the gossip queens they are. Detective Yeom hands Moo Gak back his badge to rejoin the team, claiming she believes Moo Gak’s resolve and promise not to let his emotion cloud his judgment. The other detectives are pleased to have Moo Gak back.
Jae Hee is in his library and thinks back to the conversation with Cho Rim’s dad on the drive. Cho Rim’s dad sees the Jeju island sea diving couple death as the third in the serial killings, which is the truth but Jae Hee is surprised to hear that since the world sees it as the second victims. He wonders how Cho Rim’s dad knows the truth, that there was a first unknown victim out there? He takes the first book out and the victim’s name is Hong Ji Yeon: 1969-9-15 to 2010-3-9.
Jae Hee hands Cho Rim’s dad money that he wants to donate to help the bar code victim families. Cho Rim’s dad says the best comfort to the victim families is to catch the killer and he’s certain that will happen soon as there is an eyewitness. Jae Hee brings over brewed coffee while looking at Cho Rim’s dad. He flashes back to sitting in the room as his first victim Hong Ji Yeon writes in the book. She writes that her husband Jae Pyo comes home less and less after their daughter died. WHAT? Cho Rim’s dad’s wife was the first victim? Holy, was not expecting this! Hong Ji Yeon writes that she passes time by drinking and then waking up from nightmares about her daughter dying. Two years after her daughter died, her husband asked for a divorce.
Jae Hee offers coffee to Cho Rim’s dad and asks why he’s so involved in this case since he’s not a victim family member. Is he taking care of the victims families and neglecting his own family? Cho Rim’s dad mentions having one daughter who is all grown up now. Jae Hee stares ominously while urging Cho Rim’s dad to drink the coffee while he doesn’t touch his cup.
Detective Yeom suggests Cho Rim not drink coffee tonight since she needs to have energy for tomorrow’s memory recovery session. She trades drinks with Cho Rim and urges her to go straight home and get a good night’s sleep. She notices Cho Rim looks worried and hears that she can’t reach her dad who is working out of town. Detective Yeom offers to help Cho Rim track her dad using his cell phone number.
Detective Yeom tells Moo Gak that Cho Rim knows she is the eyewitness in the bar code murders, having overheard the other detectives talking about it. Moo Gak looks stricken to hear that Cho Rim knows all, including that his little sister was mistakenly killed because of her. Detective Yeom urges Moo Gak to go look for Cho Rim now as she can’t have gone too far.
Cho Rim is at the bus station when she gets a text from her dad claiming he’s drunk and needs her to come pick him up. He gives her the address, and at the police station they are tracking the same phone which leads to Jae Hee’s place. Cho Rim texts Detective Yeom saying she reached her dad and is heading to see him now. Detective Yeom frantically calls Cho Rim but she doesn’t hear the call so Detective Yeom calls Moo Gak to inform him that Cho Rim is headed to Jae Hee’s house now.
Moo Gak and Detective Yeom both rush off to Jae Hee’s house to save Cho Rim as she arrives at the residence and goes inside. Cho Rim calls her dad while looking around the house but seeing no one. Jae Hee is holding Cho Rim’s dad’s cell phone and sees the incoming call from a number saved as “daughter”. He walks up to Cho Rim and pats her shoulder and she turns around to stare at him in shock.
Thoughts of Mine:
If I wasn’t so invested emotionally in Smelly Girl, this episode would have sent me into fits of conniptions for how every single police investigation point seems to veer into WTF territory. Why would Cho Rim go to find into Jae Hee’s house once she realized that was the place her supposedly drunken dad is sending her to? She already knows he’s the number 1 suspect as the bar code killer. Why not call the cops as backup before she goes in? Why didn’t she answer the phone in the taxi, and later when she was calling her dad she could have seen Detective Yeom’s missed call so why not call her back first? Why did Detective Yeom not put a 24/7 police guard on Cho Rim, or was that her intention when she gave Moo Gak back his badge but things just happened too fast. And how come former cop Jae Pyo (Cho Rim’s dad) just went without any suspicion with a random stranger like Jae Hee, regardless of whether he was a bar code victim family member. The story beats where the good guys go about their lives as if a serial killer isn’t hovering around them is really the core of the problem, everyone ought to be on guard ever second until Jae Hee is apprehended. At least Moo Gak figured out his phone was tapped, yay for once. I can go on and on, and really the incongruities are building up in this drama, but at the end of the episode I find myself still enjoying the emotional beats enough the temper the urge to send the entire police force to mandatory retraining.
Detective Yeom remains a very likeable cop character, with none of the forced emotional engagement that second female leads are typically saddled with. She’s perceptive enough while retaining a human empathy element, my only quibble is for her to be even smarter and therefore not slip up like the rest of her less competent crew. With that said, the cops have zeroed in on Jae Hee between Doctor Chun’s death and now without a new victim being added, but I could be speaking too fast and Cho Rim’s dad may already have bitten the dust. I think Cho Rim’s dad is fine, just incapacitated and used to lure Cho Rim out into the open. Jae Hee is too smart to just kill without a backup plan so it’s strategic to keep Cho Rim’s dad alive for the time being. I was stunned to see that victim #1 was Cho Rim’s dad’s wife? Where did that come from? Who is she to Jae Hee? Or is there no connection and she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and became his first victim? The drama is 11-episodes in without providing a clue as to motive, yet Jae Hee remains fascinating and scary, going to show that the writing is solid on the criminal side and the romantic side, only faltering on the police aspects. I wish the ending to episode 11 wasn’t the exact same as the ending to episode 10, even though I’m sure Cho Rim will be fine it’s going to be interesting to see how she slips out of the bind this time.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim both went through the emotional ringer in this episode, and it’s a relief for the story to let them both find out the big secret at the same time rather than staggering it. That usually smells of dragging and I don’t want consecutive episodes where each goes through the same five stages of acceptance. I loved Moo Gak’s time alone, to think things through and understand what matters to him now. I don’t think he ever considered breaking up with Cho Rim just because she was the impetus for his sister to get mistakenly killed, he seemed more distraught that he was finding happiness now and it happens to be with a woman so connected with his sister’s case. But he didn’t dwell upon it more than needed to come around to appreciating the present rather than living in the pain of the past. His sister is gone and Cho Rim is here, she’s the reason he’s feeling alive again and he owes it to himself to cherish this love. Cho Rim pushing Moo Gak away is understandably since her guilt is stronger, at the same time it doesn’t worry me. In a story where a serial killer is zeroing in on Cho Rim, and wants to take out Moo Gak for collateral damage, the temporary breakup of my beloved couple doesn’t feel terribly angsty. It serves the purpose that each are willing to sacrifice for the other and their love is strong even if a time out is needed to deal with sudden shocker.
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