The relief heading into the final stretch of The Girl Who Sees Smells is that it doesn’t get any worse, and there are plenty of dramas with precipitous declines even with only a few episodes left. It’s just hard to wrap things up, and take this from someone who writes daily and still finds it a challenge. The disappointment with episode 13 is that there remains such disappointing energy and follow up, with no noticeable uptick in thrills and spills when the story could use a last minute burst of energy. The final scene was a genuine awesome moment but took too long to get there after a meandering episode.
The story at last reveals Jae Hee’s backstory as a glimpse into his MO, that of a med school dropout with the skills to kill cleanly but none of the bleeding heart save a life ethos. I figured as much, but the reveal didn’t go far enough to flesh out his character with more depth when it’s so close to him finally getting nabbed. Cho Rim and Moo Gak’s romance took a backseat despite the cute as buttons date scene, maybe the drama needs to up the stakes and give us some horizontal action to spice up the joint. I totally would stop complaining if that happens, heh. Overall I love this drama more than it deserves, so I’m asking it now to give me one final push to the finish line. C’mon drama, you can do it!
Episode 13 recap:
Cho Rim goes to remove the planted recording device from Jae Hee’s library but runs smack into him as the elevator door opens to his library. Jae Hee smiles while asking if Cho Rim is here to retrieve her wallet from the library? Cho Rim runs with the excuse given but Jae Hee remains wary, asking if she’s shocked to see him here? He explains coming back early after his meeting was cancelled, offering to go up first to make coffee upstairs. But his dark expression as the elevator doors closes shows that he’s suspicious indeed.
Cho Rim comes back up and tries to quickly take her leave with Jae Hee but he strong arms her to stay and drink the coffee he made especially for her. Don’t drink this man’s offerings, Cho Rim! She has no choice but to sit down while Jae Hee stares intently at her. He urges her to drink while taking note of Cho Rim’s visible discomfort. Cho Rim lifts the cup to her lips but sets it down without drinking yet. She tries to delay time by complimenting how wonderful it smells so Jae Hee tells her to enjoy it.
Cho Rim is saved by Moo Gak pounding loudly on the door while screaming Jae Hee’s name. Jae Hee coolly opens the door for Moo Gak who rushes inside relieved to see Cho Rim sitting there just fine. Moo Gak tells Cho Rim to hurry up so she’s not late for her appointment so she takes the chance to quickly leave.
Jae Hee asks if Moo Gak is here to retrieve the recording device and wonders why he didn’t send the person who planted it to retrieve it. Ooof. Jae Hee walks Moo Gak down to the library and pointedly mentions Cho Rim was down here alone to retrieve her wallet while he was upstairs making coffee. Now he wonders if the recording device is still here now to prove whether Cho Rim was here to get her wallet or the recording device?
Jae Hee and Moo Gak grab the book with the recording device off the shelf, with Jae Hee ordering Moo Gak to never again come to his house. Moo Gak isn’t cowed to upset Jae Hee by coming to his house because Jae Hee destroyed Moo Gak’s family already by killing his sister. Moo Gak warns Jae Hee that he’s dead soon, and if Jae Hee wants to live then he needs to kill Moo Gak first.
Moo Gak meets up with Cho Rim and both are certain Jae Hee suspects her now. Cho Rim is upset she can’t get close to Jae Hee anymore because there is a new clue she wants to confirm. She saw the same scent trail on Jae Hee that she saw on Doctor Chun’s body. She’s never seen the scent on Jae Hee before at the restaurant so it must be in the house. Cho Rim decides to reveal her ability to the other cops so that the team can investigate better together.
The cops find it hard to believe that Cho Rim can see smells even with Moo Gak confirming she does have that ability and has helped him crack cases in the past. Detective Yeom asks Cho Rim to show them her ability so the cops all switch uniforms and she has to guess who has the other person’s uniform. Cho Rim correctly identifies all the switches.
Detective Yeom specifically asks if Cho Rim found Mari’s car and also solved the marijuana case by seeing smells? Cho Rim takes off her cover contact to show the team her one different color eye and now everyone believes she’s got this special power.
The team is heading back to the office when they encounter another squad with a robbery suspect that just took off from custody. They show Cho Rim the left behind jacket the suspect was wearing and she follows the scent trail outside where the suspect is hiding inside the trunk of a car. Moo Gak forces the suspect to open the trunk and surrender himself.
The team, with Cho Rim joining in, sit down to discuss the events leading to Jae Hee being home when Cho Rim arrived. He went back home 5 minutes after leaving the restaurant and had the new scent afterwards. The short time indicates he acquired the scent at home, which must be where he has a place to imprison his victims before killing them days later.
The team discusses ways to get inside Jae Hee’s home, with Moo Gak offering to get kidnapped and brought there. Team leader Kang shoots down that idea but no one has anything else at the ready. They retrieve a copy of Jae Hee’s floor plan and convince the fire department to pay a visit for violations of fire safety codes in the construction of the home.
Jae Hee is working out while wondering while the cops would switch out the picture? It would confirm he got the correct picture of Choi Eun Seol but the switch must mean the cops know about Jae Hee’s face blindness to believe he wouldn’t notice the switch. The only person he told about the condition is Oh Cho Rim, but why would she be helping the cops?
Jae Hee sits down at his desk and opens the hidden wall to reveal the white room behind it. He wonders where the real Choi Eun Seol is and heads inside the secret room to read diary written by Cho Rim’s mom. She writes about her daughter Eun Seol entering high school and names who her daughter’s best friends were in school. Jae Hee writes down this information to use.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim arrive at the police station together cuddled in each other’s arms. The other detectives bring up how Moo Gak is now protecting Cho Rim 24/7 but is going a tad overboard with the skinship. Cho Rim doesn’t want to just sit around so tries to make herself useful but Moo Gak shoos her off to go sit on the sofa.
The team convene without Cho Rim to discuss retrieving her lost memories but so far there is no success. Detective Yeom wants to approach it from another angle and see if meeting old friends can trigger her memories of the past. The cops feel so sad for Cho Rim to have no family or memories now.
Moo Gak gets the news that the fire department inspection approval has come down and leads a crew to go inspect Jae Hee’s home for code violations. Moo Gak pointedly tells Jae Hee that they will thoroughly inspect his house, especially the basement. Moo Gak goes down to the basement library and pulls books off the shelf while Jae Hee coolly looks on.
Moo Gak wonders if Jae Hee kills people whenever he’s feeling down to thwarted. If so then he should do it now, reminding Jae Hee that if he wants to live then he needs to kill Moo Gak. Jae Hee tries to ignore Moo Gak who keeps on goading Jae Hee that he wants to see the hidden room Jae Hee uses to hold his victims. Jae Hee walks away without taking the bait.
Detective Yeom pays a visit to Cho Rim’s friends from high school and has them gather for a reunion with Cho Rim. She explains that Cho Rim has lost her memory so in the meeting no one is to mention her parents are dead now. Jae Hee calls around to Cho Rim’s high school friends and collects information on Eun Seol.
Moo Gak and Detective Yeom accompany Cho Rim to meet with one friend who happily organizes a reunion with all the classmates who are now in Seoul. Afterwards Detective Yeom takes her leave and places Cho Rim with her 24/7 protective detail. Moo Gak walks off to grab a meal but Cho Rim pouts that he just does his thing without following her as a good bodyguard should. He promises to follow her closely so she just walks around a bit to make him follow. But then she takes off one direction while he just walks in another so she ends up running after him.
The couple sit down to eat while discussing Jae Hee laying low recently with no suspicious activity. Moo Gak takes a sip of the spicy stew and pauses dramatically because he can actually taste it. Cho Rim feeds him something sweet which he correctly tastes which makes her so happy. Too bad he was just faking it to tease her which she figures out. Moo Gak tells Cho Rim that he won’t regain his sensation until she regains her memory so he can keep her company. Awwww. Moo Gak knows she’s been cooped up and scared recently because of Jae Hee so offers to take her out to play today while protecting her.
The couple walk through a park, with Moo Gak stopping at a table to look at cute accessories for Cho Rim. The one he picks is actually for a dog LOL so the merchant suggests he look at another batch. Moo Gak picks a hair pin for Cho Rim who happily puts it on.
Cho Rim is happy with her new hair pin so Moo Gak asks her to treat him to a snack. He pouts until Cho Rim gives in, taking the camera from her as she goes to buy the dessert and using the time to snap more pictures of his pretty girlfriend. The two end up riding a tandem bike but Moo Gak refuses to pedal and makes Cho Rim do all the heavy lifting. All Moo Gak wants to do is take pictures of Cho Rim until she calls him over to take pics together. Cho Rim fixes her hair and the pin falls off but she doesn’t notice it.
They get back on the bike and this time Moo Gak offers to ride in the front and do all the heavy pedaling. A sudden rain shower leads them to seek shelter under an awning. Cho Rim finally notices her hair pin is missing so Moo Gak asks her to use her scent seeing ability to look for the pin. Cho Rim tries but can’t see scents when it’s raining out.
Moo Gak is surprised to learn this and offers to buy an upset Cho Rim another pin. He scrolls back through the pictures to determine the last spot when the pin was still in her hair and leads Cho Rim back to the bench where he finds the pin but holds onto it without telling her.
Detective Ki and Lee are staking out Jae Hee’s place to keep surveillance on him, reporting back that he hasn’t left the house today either. Detective Ki notices the younger Detective Lee knows the same song popular from his earlier era and feels sad that his girl complains about him being too old. Detective Lee hears that Detective Ki is 15 years older than her, and that she hasn’t been calling him lately since they are in a cooling down phase.
Jae Hee hears from one of Cho Rim’s high school friends that there is a scheduled reunion coming up. Jae Hee offers to introduce a restaurant for their meeting where the meal will be comped.
Moo Gak returns Cho Rim’s hair pin to her later that night and she’s annoyed he let her be upset until now and smacks him. Moo Gak acts all hurt and wonders if his sensation will come back sooner than her memories if she keeps hitting him. He gets a call from Detective Yeom about the upcoming reunion with Cho Rim high school friends and then asks if Cho Rim can accompany her out now.
Detective Yeom takes Cho Rim shopping for a new outfit to go meet her friends, offering to buy it for her because it’s such a happy occasion. Afterwards Cho Rim takes Detective Yeom to a perfume shop where she mixes a personal scent for Detective Yeom. Cho Rim bottles it up as a thank you gift for Detective Yeom who happily accepts.
The detectives gather for a meeting into the background of serial killer Jae Hee. Turns out he graduated from Harvard Medical School so is a trained physician. He was a shy student who worked hard at a part time job while going to school. That part time job was at a sushi restaurant and his best subject in medical school was anesthesiology. All med students had to take a personality diagnostic and after that test Jae Hee dropped out of med school.
Detective Yeom figures he was tested to be unsuited to become a doctor so he chose another profession where he can kill. Moo Gak thinks Jae Hee has the urge to kill which conflicts with the mandate of a doctor to save lives. The cops decide the key to cracking the case is to find out why Jae Hee keeps the victims for 6 days before killing them. What does he get out of them during those six days?
Moo Gak and Detective Yeom accompany Cho Rim to her reunion meeting. Detective Yeom stays next to Cho Rim while Moo Gak checks out the restaurant beforehand and peers inside all the private rooms. He misses seeing Jae Hee, who is disguised as an old man, because he’s dining with two other older men. Turns out Jae Hee found two homeless guys and gave them new clothes before taking them here to eat.
Moo Gak okays the situation so Cho Rim goes inside the private room to meet with her high school friends. Everyone is happy to see her and call her Eun Seol. Detective Yeom and Moo Gak sit outside in the main dining room eating while keeping watch. Detective Yeom calls the other two detectives who assure her that Jae Hee hasn’t left the house since the surveillance started.
The reunion talk turns to how Eun Seol lost her memory after the accident so the friends take turns introducing themselves to her. Another friend comes in who brings up seeing Cho Rim on TV in the cooking how with Chef Kwon where she’s called Oh Cho Rim. Jae Hee’s eyes widen to realize that the Choi Eun Seol he’s been looking for is Oh Cho Rim and right under his nose.
Detective Yeom heads to the car first while Moo Gak keeps Cho Rim company as she says her goodbyes to the friends. He notices two of the men from the restaurant leaving with bags of food so walks over. He hears the men are homeless and a nice guy gave them new clothes and all this free food.
Cho Rim finishes saying goodbye and wonders where Moo Gak parked the car. She walks down to the parking garage and a hooded Jae Hee follows her. Jae Hee follows Cho Rim a few floors before calling out “Choi Eun Seol” and placing a cloth over her nose. Moo Gak comes back and runs around looking for Cho Rim.
Jae Hee carries an unconscious Cho Rim back to his place via a secret passageway. He deposits her in the secret white room and heads upstairs to whip up two meals. He places one plate in a chute to send down to her while he takes the other plate and heads down to the library.
Jae Hee sits down and opens the secret wall where it’s Detective Yeom inside. He kidnapped the wrong girl! Jae Hee wonders if he should call her Eun Seol or Cho Rim but Detective Yeom coolly says “You can call me Detective Yeom Mi.”
Jae Hee drops his fork in shock as he stares at Detective Yeom in the white room and she stares back without backing down. Flashback shows Detective Yeom wearing the same outfit as Cho Rim and inserting herself in the stairway so that Jae Hee came across her first.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are rushing to Jae Hee’s place, with Moo Gak explaining that Detective Yeom was wearing the same outfit today as Cho Rim. She did it in case Jae Hee showed up as a way to confuse him. Cho Rim is freaking out that Detective Yeom got kidnapped and can’t deal with someone else getting hurt because of her. Moo Gak assures her that Detective Yeom will be fine because he’s going to kill Jae Hee now.
Moo Gak orders Cho Rim to stay outside as he runs inside Jae Hee’s house after shooting open the front door. Jae Hee saunters to the front door demanding to know why Moo Gak is here and is taken down with one fierce punch to the face. Booyah!
Moo Gak points his cocked gun at Jae Hee’s head while demanding to know what he did with Detective Yeom! Jae Hee just smiles and says nothing.
Thoughts of Mine:
I knew it! I knew the girl caught was Detective Yeom, from her super nice shopping date onward I figured she was setting a trap for Jae Hee. Why else have Cho Rim do such a public reunion with her high school friends when she’s the number one target of serial killer. I commend her for having the guts to take the chance when the enemy is someone as deadly and merciless as Jae Hee, and the way she stared Jae Hee down at the end was such a booyah moment, even if she is on the wrong side of a locked door. Her abilities aside, and the drama writing is really to blame for dumbing down the cops to stretch out the chase, she’s been a great second female lead. Composed and professional, never letting her emotions get in the way and not needing romance or jealousy to cloud her work. I like her enough to wish she survives this skirmish with Jae Hee, even if it would be quite dramatic to have her become an 8th victim before Moo Gak finally takes down the villain of this tale. Or maybe have her locked up and follow what Jae Hee makes her do during the 6 days to understand what makes this killer tick.
Cho Rim getting out of her third run-in with Jae Hee was as uneventful as all the previous tense moments with zero payoff. I suppose this third encounter was necessary for Jae Hee to start suspecting Cho Rim was helping the cops, but then he quickly learned Cho Rim was the real Choi Eun Seol so his earlier suspicion didn’t lead to any tense encounters. Ultimately this drama follows through with only half its tricks, enough to keep me interested, but not enough to make the lapses seem miniscule enough to easily overlook. Moo Gak and Cho Rim’s date was as cute as ever but this time felt so jarring and did take me out of the flow. Narratively it made sense that he wanted to get her mind off the heavy worries but I kept wondering why the cops don’t make a bigger deal of protecting Cho Rim. Why can’t there be an additional layer of protection keeping an eye over her from a distance, even as Moo Gak is her 24/7 bodyguard. An active serial killer who has a known target would seem to be the number 1 use of police attention at this time, especially since keeping Cho Rim safe also has the added benefit of catching Jae Hee in the act.
I loved that the drama brought back Cho Rim’s scent seeing ability in full force again, having her use it openly with the cops in this investigation. Their little unit, despite being mostly hapless, feels like a warm family and one that Cho Rim and Moo Gak both need. I feel their relationship has this tinge of melancholy, not just two youngsters being attracted to each other and falling in love like normal people would, but also the connection of lonely souls who seek family as well as romance. Jae Hee is the link for the tragedy in both their lives so its only fitting that they work together to bring him down. I hope Moo Gak doesn’t pull the trigger, or do anything that might get him pulled off the case. Detective Yeom isn’t that stupid, hopefully she’s left clues so Cho Rim can scent see her way to rescue her. Jae Hee may be diabolical but he’s nothing if not by the books. I can’t see him killing Detective Yeom on the spot, plus he mentioned being intrigued by her so he has the perfect next victim who fell in his lap, even if she’s not the victim he thought he was nabbing. Oh well, this is a man who can definitely whip up whatever dish with unexpected ingredients.
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