Moo Gak and Cho Rim’s romance is the main reason I love The Girl Who Sees Smells, with bonus points for the bar code serial killer actually being interesting and deadly scary. The police investigation increases in brain power this episode, with the cops finally taking tricks from the killer’s playbook and trying to one up him. Too bad he’s too smart and the cops still too bumbling to fully crack the case open, but it sure beats watching the cops learn things five steps too late. With four more episodes to go, my gut tells me Jae Hee is ready to switch on the all bad, all the time mode, which puts wuri Cho Rim in a really bad place at the end of the episode.
It’s hard to quantify why I’m so lax with the procedural lapses in this drama but haven’t as much leeway for similar sloppy execution dramas like in You’re All Surrounded. It probably boils down to YAAS being 100% a police drama so the police fails shake the entire premise, while Smelly Girl is only 50% that and the other 50% is a lovely rom-com complete with cute couple scenes aplenty in each episode. It’s that rom-com half that remains excellent, even powering right through the noble idiocy breakout much sooner than most stories like to dwell on tears. Moo Gak and Cho Rim don’t just get back together, the reunion is topped by cohabitation that more than makes up for the earlier bout of angst. Hurray for that!
Episode 12 recap:
Cho Rim is lured to Jae Hee’s house by a text from her dad to pick him up. Moo Gak races there after being alerted by Detective Yeom. Cho Rim walks into the house looking for her dad and is approached by Jae Hee, who believes she’s Choi Eun Seol but cannot recognize her face to make the connection that she’s also Oh Cho Rim.
Cho Rim looks petrified as Jae Hee reaches his hand out to touch her face, much like he did three years ago when Cho Rim interrupted his attack on her parents. Cho Rim glances over and sees Moo Gak’s scent trail right before the lights are turned off in the house. She takes the opportunity to run from Jae Hee, following the scent trail she can see in the dark.
Moo Gak finds Cho Rim and pulls her out of the house to safety, pulling out his gun to ready for Jae Hee to follow. Jae Hee runs out of the house and Moo Gak knocks him out cold with a blow to the back of the head.
Moo Gak points his gun at the unconscious Jae Hee, tempted to execute the bastard serial killer who murdered his little sister. Death is too easy a release for the fiend, Moo Gak. Cho Rim runs out to stop Moo Gak and talk him off the ledge from becoming a killer himself. Moo Gak reluctantly lowers his gun and the two run into the house to look for Cho Rim’s dad.
Moo Gak runs into the below ground storage room to look but doesn’t see anything. Cho Rim looks around and suddenly gets dizzy and faints. Moo Gak finds a passed out Cho Rim and quickly takes her out to seek medical assistance. He runs into the arriving Detectives Ki and Lee as he drives Cho Rim to the hospital, updating them on Jae Hee passed out at the front door.
After Moo Gak leaves with Cho Rim, Jae Hee wakes up just in time to face off with the two detectives. He’s cool as a cucumber and answers questions about a missing Oh Jae Pyo whose cell phone signal lead to here. Jae Hee candidly admits Oh Jae Pyo is here, he is sleeping in Jae Hee’s room after drinking too much wine. He prevents the detectives from going inside and heads in to bring Jae Pyo out. He erases the texts from Jae Pyo’s cell phone before dropping it on the floor and then disposing of the medical supplies strewn on the sofa.
Cho Rim’s dad wakes up and apologizes for falling asleep. He picks up his cell phone and declines Jae Hee’s offer to stay for dinner. He hears from Jae Hee that people are outside waiting for him, walking out to see the two detectives looking shocked to see him hale and hearty. Cho Rim’s dad apologizes for worrying the detectives, corroborating Jae Hee’s explanation that he drank too much and fell asleep. The two detectives have no choice but to leave.
Cho Rim’s dad takes a taxi home and Jae Hee follows the taxi so he now knows where the eyewitness Choi Eun Seol lives.
The doctor checks out Cho Rim and assures Moo Gak that she’s fine now. The couple are a bit awkward around each other, with Moo Gak assuring that Cho Rim’s dad called and is safe at home. Cho Rim wants to talk about what happened at Jae Hee’s place, revealing that Jae Hee called her “Choi Eun Seol” and asked if she remembers him. Cho Rim asks if Jae Hee really is the bar code serial killer? Moo Gak confirms Jae Hee is the serial killer and also wants to kill Cho Rim.
Cho Rim remembers Jae Hee having face blindness and tells that to Moo Gak, advising him to not speak when he sees Jae Hee in the future. Because Jae Hee can’t recognize people’s faces, he waits for the person to speak before going through his memories to connect who that person is. Moo Gak realizes that Jae Hee didn’t recognize Cho Rim tonight because she didn’t speak. Cho Rim politely thanks Moo Gak for coming to save her tonight. Moo Gak suggests tossing her clothes from tonight so Jae Hee can’t use it to recognize her either.
Cho Rim takes the direct route on their lingering relationship impasse and asks to have a talk with Moo Gak. Cho Rim brings up learning that she was the eyewitness and her real name was Choi Eun Seol, seeing from Moo Gak’s expression that he already knew that. Cho Rim cries explaining how guilty she feels that Moo Gak’s little sister died because of her. She apologizes to Moo Gak who immediately shuts down her guilt, insisting that it wasn’t because of Cho Rim and is all the fault of the bastard who killed his sister.
Moo Gak doesn’t want to accept Cho Rim’s reason for breaking, he wants her to stop feeling bad and accept him. He wants all of her and doesn’t want her to go anywhere, so can she just let him love her? Cho Rim cries and insists she can’t do that before heading back into the hospital, leaving Moo Gak standing there frustrated that he can’t change her mind.
Cho Rim’s dad sits down with Detective Yeom and Moo Gak, explaining that he kept the truth from Cho Rim because he pitied her sad plight. She lost both parents and her memory, he didn’t want her life being manipulated by the cops to regain her painful memory to help identify the killer. They hear that the police chief knew about it, and also told Cho Rim’s dad that the prime suspect is Jae Hee.
Cho Rim’s dad actually intentionally played along with Jae Hee to get close to him as well, but now realizes he underestimated the killer and put Cho Rim in danger. Detective Yeom asks Cho Rim’s dad not to live at home with Cho Rim for the time being and move to a police safe house. Cho Rim’s sad asks Moo Gak to take care of Cho Rim and he solemnly promises to do so.
Cho Rim says goodbye to her dad and both assure the other that they will stay safe. Cho Rim hugs her dad with a grateful thanks before watching him leave. Cho Rim’s dad asks Moo Gak one last time to take care of his daughter before heading out. Moo Gak waits for Cho Rim to check out of the hospital and offers to take her home but she declines.
Moo Gak can’t help but follow Cho Rim home until he sees her safely enter. He’s about to leave when he hears her screaming from inside. Cho Rim is freaking out after finding the house ransacked. Moo Gak rushes inside and quickly does a perimeter check to make sure no one else is inside. He tells Cho Rim to stay out and runs out to look around, not finding any clues left behind. Moo Gak tries to comfort Cho Rim but she shakes his hands off.
Moo Gak calms Cho Rim down with a warm drink before asking her to check what is missing. Right now they don’t know if Jae Hee or a common thief ransacked the place. Cho Rim looks around and finds a picture of herself missing from a frame. Moo Gak is sure that Jae Hee was the one who searched the place and drags Cho Rim off with him since this place isn’t safe. Cho Rim is reluctant until Moo Gak yells that he’s protecting the eyewitness and not Oh Cho Rim.
Jae Hee is staring at Cho Rim’s picture that he stole from the house but his face blindness affects even the picture, with Cho Rim’s face changing in his eyes.
Moo Gak takes Cho Rim back to his apartment and offers to let her stay here while he goes elsewhere. He orders her to not open the door to anyone and wait for him before leaving the apartment. Cho Rim is worried where Moo Gak will stay and he assures her that a sunbae lives nearby he can crash with.
Moo Gak keeps running back into the apartment to grab items one after another, all the time telling Cho Rim to make herself comfortable and at home. Moo Gak makes one last return trip to tell Cho Rim not to look out the window or get too close to the window before leaving with a goofy smile on his face. Moo Gak ends up spending the night in his car while staring up at the window to his apartment. He sees Cho Rim standing by the window and calls her to remind her to stay away from the window. Cho Rim puts on one of Moo Gak’s shirts and cuddles in with his scent trail infused in it.
Moo Gak returns to the apartment to wash up, lying that his sunbae didn’t have time for him to use the facilities. They head into the elevator together and a neighbor ahjumma compliments them for being such a happy newlywed couple. Moo Gak doesn’t clarify and just accepts the compliment on their behalf. Moo Gak and Cho Rim happily say goodbye outside the apartment building.
Cho Rim pays Detective Yeom a visit to offer herself as an undercover resource. She’s not worried about Jae Hee having her picture since he can’t use it to recognize her. She wants to get her own picture back.
The cops are dejected that Jae Hee didn’t leave a single clue at Cho Rim’s house, no fingerprints or things left behind. They are certain he’s the bar code killer but still have no evidence to nail him. Talk turns to getting a protective detail for Cho Rim as the eyewitness which is when Detective Yeom reveals that Cho Rim wants to be an undercover for the investigation.
Moo Gak confronts Cho Rim on putting herself in harms way. She explains that Jae Hee doesn’t suspect her and has no guard up against her, making her the perfect mole. Moo Gak refuses to let her do it but Cho Rim wants to protect herself and she’s the best person to enter Jae Hee’s house now and get her picture back. Today there is a cooking show recording and is the only chance to get the picture back before Jae Hee shows it to someone else.
Moo Gak agrees to let Cho Rim do it but gives her repeated instructions on staying safe and listening to his orders to retreat. Detective Ki hands Cho Rim a CCTV camera hidden inside a book, an earpiece to listen to them, and a warning button on a necklace to push in an emergency. Cho Rim assures the team that she’s ready to do this.
Cho Rim arrives at Jae Hee’s house and composes herself before greeting Jae Hee. He acts happy to see her and compliments her outfit today. He brings up another cooking program he wants to do with her and she thanks him for the chance to work together. Jae Hee talks with his PD about today’s show doing 5-minute meals, teasing Cho Rim for encouragement so he doesn’t NG.
Cho Rim gives Jae Hee a “fighting” and he starts recording the 5 minute segment. Cho Rim quickly hurries down to the library and briefs Moo Gak via her earpiece that she only has 5 minutes. Cho Rim walks through the library and fumbles with the recording device before successfully placing the CCTV book on the shelf with a view of the desk area.
Too bad the PD stops the recording early after confirming Jae Hee can make two dishes in 5 minutes, asking him to prepare the second dish later and recording Cho Rim’s segment now. The staff calls around for Cho Rim and Jae Hee looks suspicious and walks over to the elevator. The door opens and Cho Rim is inside with her skirt pulled up fixing her pantyhose. She explains the bathroom has too many guys so she used the elevator to fix her outfit.
After the recording, Cho Rim goes to the bathroom and leaves her wallet inside, remembering Detective Yeom’s plan for her to leave her wallet so she can an excuse to go back later. Cho Rim climbs into the police van all tuckered out from the nerve wracking undercover mission.
Moo Gak takes Cho Rim out to have grilled pig skin, explaining that eating this will make her less nervous at investigation scenes. He picks up a piece to feed Cho Rom and she shyly leans in to eat it.
After the meal, Cho Rim and Moo Gak take a walk and talk turns to how their lives have changed. He’s now a cop when he was supposed to work in aquariums while she is supposed to be on a comedy stage but is now working undercover investigating. Moo Gak wistfully imagines that after this is all done, he can go back to his old life and swim with in fishes in Jeju in a laid back setting. Moo Gak asks Cho Rim if she’ll go with him back to Jeju? She doesn’t answer so he smiles and vows to bug her until she agrees so she better be ready for it.
Cho Rim turns back with tears falling down, wanting to go with Moo Gak when he goes back to Jeju to pay his sister a visit. She wants to go see his little sister as well and apologize. Moo Gak wipes her tears and says with a smile “yes, let’s go to let Eun Seol talk to Eun Seol directly.” He pulls Cho Rim in for a tight hug as they get back together.
Detective Lee is stationed in the surveillance van to watch the video feed of Jae Hee down in his library. He sees Jae Hee staring at the stolen picture of Cho Rim and placing a call. Jae Hee calls a private investigator to look for Choi Eun Seol, making an appointment to meet tomorrow at 4 pm to hand over the picture for the search. He puts Cho Rim’s picture in his wallet.
Moo Gak takes Cho Rim home and plans to leave again tonight. Cho Rim asks if he’s going to stay with the sunbae and will come back tomorrow to wash up again. Moo Gak puts on a too cheerful smile as he leaves the apartment. Cho Rim later finds him sleeping in his car outside and pounds on the window to wake him up. Cho Rim orders him to go back into the apartment with her and he’s all smiles realizing she’s okay staying in the same apartment as him.
They go to sleep, her in the bed and him on the sofa, chatting about what household supplies they need to buy tomorrow before both fall asleep.
The cops have convened to fight Jae Hee, having seen the picture of Cho Rim he stole, they want to doctor the same picture but with a different woman’s face on it. That way Jae Hee won’t go looking for another picture and they won’t need to worry that Jae Hee shows the picture to someone who doesn’t have face blindness and can recognize Cho Rim. Their plan is to hand this picture to Cho Rim and have her find a way to exchange it with her picture in Jae Hee’s wallet.
Moo Gak hands the fake picture to Cho Rim and assures her that there is no such girl, the face is 100% digitally created. That assures Cho Rim that another girl won’t be in danger. Moo Gak comforts Cho Rim that he’ll follow behind her today as she goes undercover on this picture exchanging mission.
Jae Hee arrives at his restaurant to see the guests in uproar over the slow speed of dishes coming out. He hears from the kitchen of the earlier order mix up causing the cascading delay so he takes off his jacket to help out in the kitchen. Cho Rim sees Jae Hee’s wallet in his jacket and sneaks it outside to exchange the picture and returning it to the jacket without being seen by Jae Hee.
Cho Rim tells Jae Hee after the shift ends, asking if she can go to his house to pick up her wallet left there. Jae Hee needs to go somewhere else so hands Cho Rim his house keys and tells her to go pick it up herself. She calls updates Moo Gak who tells her to go to the house to retrieve the CCTV book while Jae Hee is out.
Jae Hee is driving to meet the private investigator who calls and cancels the meeting because he arrived early and found the place crawling with undercover cops. Jae Hee takes the picture out of his wallet and looks on the back where he made a notation on the real picture but this one doesn’t have the notation on it.
Jae Hee turns around and rushes back to his house, walking through his library until he spots the CCTV book on the shelf. He walks right up to the hidden camera and talks directly into it. Jae Hee asks “What? What are you trying to find out?” before shutting the feed.
Cho Rim arrives at the house right behind Jae Hee. Moo Gak tries to call Cho Rim to warn her but she’s left her cell phone at the restaurant. She goes straight to the bathroom to pick up her wallet first before heading down to the library. Moo Gak tries to talk to Cho Rim via her ear piece but she’s not wearing it.
The elevator door opens and Cho Rim finds herself face-to-face with Jae Hee, who slowly breaks into a sinister smile. Moo Gak runs out of the surveillance van towards the house to save his Cho Rim.
Thoughts of Mine:
I’m not going to give Smelly Girl a pass on having the exact same episode ending scene three freaking episodes in a row! Jae Hee finding out Cho Rim is Eun Seol is a major thrilling moment, but shouldn’t be used to string the audience along more than once, and the drama has done it three times now. With that said, the ending to episode 12 will work if Jae Hee actually kidnaps Cho Rim rather than her finding a way to escape the situation yet again. I love Cho Rim, don’t get me wrong, but the drama has long been building towards Cho Rim being a future bar code victim. Whether as Oh Cho Rim, the perky girl that Jae Hee is amused by, or as Choi Eun Seol, the eyewitness that needs to be silence, she’s doubly targeted for Jae Hee’s nefarious plans whichever identity you slice it. I would like to see Cho Rim actually in danger, and have that danger built up to explain Jae Hee’s entire M.O. We get to see how he picks victims, subdues them, why the whole 6 day incarceration and the diary writing exercise, and the killing on the 7th day. Of course there won’t actually be killing time if Cho Rim is the intended victim, it’ll just allow the drama to show Jae Hee in all his murderous glory before Moo Gak swoops in at the nick of time to save his beloved. I do wonder if I’m writing this script ahead of what the writer has planned, LOL.
I like that Jae Hee isn’t Teflon, the cops can pull fast ones on him and he thorough enough to have all sorts of secondary protections in place, like bugging his own house so he can catch intruders or quickly getting a PI to look for the Choi Eun Seol in the picture. His limitations could be just sloppy writing, but adds to making him a more fascinating villain because he’s got a temper and sometimes is on the short end of the stick. It’s a relief that all the cops are completely certain he’s the serial killer, now it’s all about getting the one breakthrough evidence to nail him. I’m torn on the cops agreeing to use Cho Rim as an undercover agent to plant things around Jae Hee, she’s not trained so it’s no surprise she made multiple mistakes at the end of the episode to land herself in Jae Hee’s line of sight. It does show us how proactive Cho Rim is, taking her own safety and livelihood into her own hands rather than hiding away until the danger has passed. It’s a relief that her dad isn’t as clueless as believed, just naively going with Jae Hee like a lamb to slaughter. If he was trying to entrap him, that was a good try but Jae Hee has had years perfecting his exterior persona and slipping up doesn’t all that likely just yet.
With Moo Gak and Cho Rim reconciling in less than an episode apart, it allows the drama to now focus on keeping them both safe. I really have zero problems with Cho Rim’s noble idiocy, that plot trope isn’t a problem in and of itself, most of the time the fail is on the execution. Either the leads don’t really have a valid reason for it, or the issue is dragged out too long. Here it’s done just right, Cho Rim needed a few days to really come around and that’s all it took. What’s wrong with some time apart to digest the truth and gnawing guilt before letting to go because the future is worth grabbing onto more than pitifully atoning for the past. Of course Cho Rim could have skipped it entirely because the killer offing Moo Gak’s sister really isn’t by any fault committed by her, but who can blame this kind and considerate girl for feeling bad simply because of she was involved in the runaway train of bad coincidences. I’m glad Moo Gak used love, patience, and a good dose of humor to bring his girl around, now the two can face the danger ahead with their usual support and faith in each other. All I need now is for Moo Gak to run faster and unleash some herculean strength to bust the front door down to rescue his beloved Cho Rim.
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