Another drama has come to a close and this conclusion brings a mixed bag of opinions forming one general takeaway. All in all, I really liked The Girl Who Sees Smells, half-developed plot lines and spotty police investigating and all that lackluster detailing. If I close my eyes and think of the drama, all it does is bring a soft happy smile to my face which is why I know I like it more than the little fails annoy me. Deferring to my heart on this one never felt more satisfying, going easy on the critical nitpicking because none of it amounted to take down everything else that worked so well. The balance is tipped in the direction of thumbs up and rather inexplicably Smelly Girl clicks for me.
Nothing has been as fun as falling for the collective cuteness of Yoochun and Shin Se Kyung thanks to this drama. I don’t just mean their characters, both are awesomely written in the story, but also loving their acting and chemistry. I won’t take back any prior criticism or disdain for their previous acting performances, each gig merits its own critique, but for Smelly Girl it washed away all prior impressions leaving me only with full blown love for them. They didn’t just do a swell job, they succeeded to the point of carrying a haphazardly written show, with a side helping of support from solidly awesome second leads Namgong Min and Yoon Jin Seo. With all that, Smelly Girl ends up a easy to watch little winner.
Episode 16 recap:
Cho Rim is kidnapped from her wedding to Moo Gak, leaving the attending detectives frantically searching for her to no avail. Jae Hee has spirited her out of the wedding with little fuss, why am I not surprised.
Moo Gak gathers with the detectives to watch the surveillance video from the aquarium and confirms Jae Hee was the kidnapper as he’s caught boldly on video wheeling an unconscious Cho Rim out. Team leader Kang allows Moo Gak to participate in this investigation and assures him that Cho Rim will be found safe and sound.
Detective Yeom has also returned to this team for this investigation and reminds Moo Gak not to try anything alone and work with the team.
Jae Hee stops his stolen ambulance in a warehouse to swap Cho Rim out to another unmarked getaway car. Cho Rim notices Jae Hee in possession of a bomb and hears he plans to use it on Moo Gak. Cho Rim manages to scratch her ring on the bomb before tossing it out the window without Jae Hee noticing.
Following Jae Hee’s tracks on the highway surveillance footage, the cops have arrived at the same warehouse but only finds the empty ambulance inside. Moo Ga finds Cho Rim’s dropped ring on the ground which provides a clue that they are on the right track. Moo Gak figures it was dropped on purpose and should be sent to forensics for testing.
The team convene to discuss the kidnapping, with Detective Yeom correctly pointing out that Jae Hee purposely revealed his face to the surveillance camera so this isn’t his usual kidnapping style. He’s clearly planning something different and may even reach out to the cops first.
Jae Hee takes Cho Rim to a place that is decorated exactly the same way as her newlywed apartment with Moo Gak. He refuses to tell Cho Rim what he’s planning so she demands to know why he killed her parents. Jae Hee is surprised she’s gotten her memory back and doesn’t seen upset when Cho Rim calls him a killing monster.
Jae Hee calls Moo Gak to inform him that Cho Rim is fine since she’s not his target. He wants Moo Gak so from now on Moo Gak needs to do as he says. Moo Gak demands proof that Cho Rim is still alive but is told not to make demands. Jae Hee orders Moo Gak to Cho Rim’s old home and if he brings cops with him then he’ll immediately receive a video of Jae Hee killing Cho Rim.
Detective Yeom appears to notice Moo Gak’s conversation on the phone but doesn’t call him out on it. Moo Gak tries to act nonchalant as he gets up and leaves the office.
Moo Gak arrives at Cho Rim’s old house and texts a picture of him inside the residence to Jae Hee who calls back. Jae Hee links to a video feed of Cho Rim bound and gagged. Moo Gak claims he’ll be there soon to save Cho Rim but she keeps shaking her head. Jae Hee orders Moo Gak to stay put and do nothing otherwise Cho Rim is dead.
After hanging up the phone, Jae Hee takes out a key to Cho Rim and Moo Gak’s real newlywed residence. He shows Cho Rim a real bomb that he plans to leave in the entryway to the residence. When Moo Gak runs inside to save Cho Rim, he’ll be killed instantaneously. Jae Hee ominously tells Cho Rim it’ll be fine because afterwards it’s her turn.
Jae Hee goes to Moo Gak and Cho Rim’s newlywed apartment and plants the bomb under the floor mat in the entryway.
The cops are tracking Moo Gak’s location using his cellphone, finding him stationary at Cho Rim’s old house. They figure Moo Gak is doing what Jae Hee orders and the tactic seems to be buying Jae Hee some time. Moo Gak figures out the same thing for why Jae Hee is making him stay in an empty house.
Jae Hee plants the bomb and goes across the street to another building with direct view. He then sends Moo Gak a video of Cho Rim again where she’s shaking her head. Jae Hee orders him to go to their newlywed home where he is holding Cho Rim in an hour. Moo Gak assures Cho Rim that he’ll save her while running off.
The detectives can see Moo Gak is moving locations now. Detective Yeom gets the test results from Cho Rim’s engagement ring which has residue from bomb making materials. Jae Hee waits in the other building as Moo Gak unlocks the door to the apartment and walks in. Jae Hee then sees an explosion from the unit and smiles happily to himself.
Jae Hee drives back to the real location where he’s keeping Cho Rim hostage, informing her that Moo Gak has been blown to bits. He takes out a chloroformed handkerchief for Cho Rim while telling her that he won’t be as cruel to her and will end her life cleanly.
Moo Gak runs in before Jae Hee can chloroform Cho Rim and knocks Jae Hee down. Jae Hee has a knife and manages to graze Moo Gak on the belly before running off.
Moo Gak chases Jae Hee onto the rooftop and the two men tussle. Moo Gak has the upper hand but before he can deliver the killing blow, Jae Hee calls Moo Gak to wait a minute and not kill him. Jae Hee wants Moo Gak to let him live which only gets Moo Gak to scream at Jae Hee for being so cowardly as to be scared of his own death. Jae Hee laughs that his death won’t fix anything. Moo Gak decides not to dirty his own hands to kill Jae Hee and leave him in the hands of the law.
Before Moo Gak can handcuff Jae Hee, he tosses dirt in Moo Gak’s eyes and grabs an iron bar to attack Moo Gak. The two men push each other towards the edge of the building but Moo Gak turns himself at the last minute so Jae Hee ends up falling over the building and plunging to his death.
Moo Gak walks up to the dead Jae Hee on the sidewalk as the other detectives and Cho Rim join him at the crime scene after they have rescued her.
The team gather to debrief on how Moo Gak avoided Jae Hee’s trap. Turns out Moo Gak kept watching the video of Cho Rim being held in the newlywed apartment and realizes the table beside the chair is missing. Thanks to Cho Rim’s ring left at the scene, the cops figured a bomb was present and was able to defuse it and set off a fake bomb explosion to fool Jae Hee. The team change to a lighter topic of the interrupted wedding, with Moo Gak wanting to call it married already but Cho Rim wants another wedding since she didn’t walk down the aisle.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim have settled into newlywed life and the bride is very bossy in ordering her groom to rearrange the apartment and unpacking their household wares.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim pay their respects to Cho Rim’s adopted dad, with Moo Gak assuring Dad that he will take good care of Cho Rim forever. Dad wants to change Cho Rim’s name back to her real name Choi Eun Seol but Cho Rim doesn’t want to. She wants to be Dad’s daughter and also pay respects to her real parents. Dad reveals he plans to move to Jeju now that his job is done, taking the newlywed’s hands and asking them to be happy.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak sign their wedding papers and discuss finding people to be their witness. Both want to find the person who is the other person’s mentor to be the witness.
Cho Rim sits down with Detective Yeom and asks her unni to sign as a witness on the marriage certificate. Detective Yeom is more than happy to sign, she likes both Cho Rim and Moo Gak and it makes her so happy to see the couple together. Cho Rim says Detective Yeom is so awesome that she would like her unni if Cho Rim was a guy. Detective Yeom reveals her professional illness that makes her profile any guy who comes close so they all run away.
Moo Gak asks the comedy troupe leader to sign as witness, revealing that he feels troupe leader really looked out for Cho Rim. Sunbae orders Moo Gak to be happy with Cho Rim and she’ll be upset if Moo Gak is mean to Cho Rim. Troupe leader signs the paper and gives Moo Gak advice that he learned being a comedian. Life is about making people laugh so Moo Gak should always try and make Cho Rim laugh.
The detectives investigate a death inside an apartment with the victim being known as a cheapskate landlord. They immediately think about getting help from Cho Rim and Moo Gak, too bad the couple is on their honeymoon. But then Detective Lee remembers they are leaving tomorrow for the honeymoon.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim come home after registering their marriage, with Moo Gak kissing Cho Rim on the sofa as their first married kiss. He then runs off laughing to take his first married man shower.
Team leader Kang rings the doorbell and makes small talk asking if Cho Rim is happy after marriage before revealing his real reason for coming here. He asks Cho Rim for a favor that will affect his career. Moo Gak comes out of the shower all ready for sexy times only to find himself alone in the apartment with a note from Cho Rim that she went out with team leader Kang.
Cho Rim is brought to the crime scene and asked to look around. Cho Rim sees the smell of seafood from under the table and the cops find a woman’s outfit button discarded there. Team leader is ready to escort Cho Rim back so that Moo Gak doesn’t wait too long after his shower LOL.
Detective Ki and Lee go to a restaurant that sells seafood which is in the same building as the crime scene. The restaurant owner is a woman and there is a button missing on her sweater which is the same as the one left at the scene. She’s taken into custody as a suspect and all she does is keep apologizing and saying she did wrong. The detectives retrieve the bloody murder knife after interrogating the suspect ahjumma.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are packing for their honeymoon trip but Moo Gak remains surly from his newlywed bride ditching him to go help with an investigation. Cho Rim claims she was just there to take a look and smartly goes to placate her pouting hubby with aegyo and hugs. Moo Gak can’t help but smile. Cho Rim claims she can’t investigate without Moo Gak which gets her lots of tickling in return.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are driving to the airport and both are laughing about the prospect of being in Thailand in a few hours. They are pulled over by a flashing police car and forced to stop. Out pops Detectives Ki and Lee who are frustrated the case just got complicated. The ahjumma may not be the killer as her son just confessed.
The detectives manage to get both Cho Rim and Moo Gak interested enough to go back to the police station so that Moo Gak can question the ahjumma. Moo Gak correctly guesses that the ahjumma found the victim dead when she got there and recognized the knife so believed her son did it and disposed of the weapon. He urges the ahjumma to reveal the truth but she insists she killed the man.The son also sticks to his confession that he killed the victim and his mother had nothing to do with it.
Cho Rim notices that the son’s shoes scent and calls Moo Gak out of interrogation to add new details. She saw different shoe scent trails at the crime scene, the right foot was a strong seafood smell and the left foot a strong oriental medicine smell. Cho Rim sees the same scent on this son but switched up, the right foot smells like oriental medicine and the left foot smells like seafood.
Moo Gak goes back into interrogation and tells the son that neither him nor the mother are the killer. He wants to know if anyone wears the same shoes as the son and hears a guy recently came to live at their house and his mom bought both men the same pair of shoes. The police go and bring that guy in for interrogation and find him working at an oriental medicine shop.
The two men are placed in the same interrogation room and Moo Gak places the other guy under arrest for the murder of the victim. Detective Ki comes back after searching the guy’s locker at the oriental medicine shop and finds cash stolen from the victim. He recounts how the guy was trying to steal from the victim who came home early and was killed.
The seafood ahjumma was paying her rent and found the victim dead and the seafood store knife at the crime scene. She thought her son killed the man so took the knife away to dispose of. The real killer accidentally put on one wrong shoe as he was taking off. The cops crack this case and as usual Moo Gak gives all the credit to team leader Kang.
The ahjumma and her son gratefully thank Moo Gak and Cho Rim for clearing their names. The team leader of the missing persons squad heard Cho Rim and Moo Gak helped crack another case and offers to have them join his team anytime.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim sit down to dinner, with Moo Gak enjoying all the dishes because Cho Rim got paid in fresh food from all their neighbors as she helps them find missing things and culprits to their problems. Moo Gak and Cho Rim are supposed to finally go on their honeymoon tomorrow so both turn off their phone and don’t answer when the detectives start calling them again.
The newlyweds adorably pray that they will be able to go on their honeymoon at long last and not be disturbed one more time.
Team leader Kang thinks it’s not wrong to bug Moo Gak and Cho Rim because there are so many cases to solve and innocent people to help. Detective Ki is at the airport waiting to stop them from getting on the plane to Thailand while Detective Lee is trying to find them around the apartment. Detective Yeom walks up to team leader Kang to introduce herself as the new team leader as she’s returned to work at the police force.
Moo Gak and Cho Rim are riding bikes in the park, with Cho Rim pleased with this honeymoon instead of going to Thailand. Moo Gak thinks it’s a shame he didn’t get to see Cho Rim in a bikini so Cho Rim whispers that she’s wearing her bikini underneath. Moo Gak wants to see it now and tells his blushing bride not to be shy since they are married already. He suggests riding the bike all the way to Thailand. I’m sorry, this is way too cute to not rewatch on an infinite loop.
The couple take a break from biking and Cho Rim cries tears of happiness over how happy her life is right now. Hubby Moo Gak wants wifey to stop calling him Detective Choi so she tells him to pick between darling, honey, and hubby. Moo Gak says “I love you wifey” so Cho Rim says back “I love you hubby.”
As Moo Gak is biking off, he casually suggests they go back to investigate. Cho Rim demands to know who he talked to since he told her to avoid all calls from the detectives. Moo Gak reveals he talked to Detective Yeom who is back on the force on a new special investigation team. Cho Rim acts all pretend upset and claims to not be curious at all about a missing persons case being investigated.
Then both drop their act and quickly turn the bike around to happily bike off to join the police force.
Thoughts of Mine:
And that’s a wrap! Smelly Girl was good for me from start to finish without ever once making me want more from it, including any longing that it’s over now. The drama did what it set out to do, tell the story of a girl who sees smells as she found a second chance at life that in many ways is pretty darn perfect. The ending foreshadowed newlyweds Moo Gak and Cho Rim joining the police force together, unable to give up the desire to solve crime and help the innocent, and armed with special skills that make them suitable to pick the profession. Cho Rim’s scent seeing was never probed for an explanation or solution, only integrated here and there when necessary for a particular plot point. If she’s saddled with it for the rest of her life, having her become a detective alongside Moo Gak makes sense, especially since she was so bad at the comedy but quite good adding value in investigations. I also like that Moo Gak probably went back to bring a cop, for the entire drama he was a cop and had the attitude and aptitude for it. It was nice seeing Moo Gak and Cho Rim surrounded by support and affection from all the people around them, the cops in the investigation team and members of the comedy troupe, so in the end they had a choice and choose something that was so organically tied to their life together. The ending was satisfying in both the romance and future aspirations, a fitting and complete closure for the audience.
With the ending being satisfying aside, this final episode was generally low energy again. Jae Hee’s final threat never felt dangerous or credible, especially with the bajillion loopholes in the entire execution from his plot to how he was captured. I was hoping for more urgency and further elucidation into Jae Hee’s murderous madness but he turned into a vengeful coward with none of his smarts and attitude at the end. His plunge to death felt anticlimactic especially since I never felt that Cho Rim or Moo Gak were in real danger. The only welcome bit was seeing Jae Hee back onscreen for one final round of his menacing glare and soft spoken voice saying the most evil things out loud. Namgong Min did an excellent job bringing Jae Hee to life, leaving a memorable and impactful performance behind that is one of the strongest aspects of this drama. It’s not his fault the writing around the crimes and the subsequent police lameless in trying to catch him really lowered his danger level towards the end.
His counterpart in Detective Yeom is also worth noting as an asset to the story, with the soothing calm acting of Yoon Jin Seo a refreshing change to the unlikeable second female leads with only unrequited romance on their minds. The lack of muddled romantic complications kept the second leads focused only on the professional side of their story, showing how second lead characters don’t have to be in or out of love to be useful and interesting in a drama. It was doubly nice in the end to have Detective Yeom return to the police force as well, completing the unit once again that has grown on me. I wish Jae Hee would have gotten life in prison so he can experience what it’s like to be locked up like he did to those victims, but a quick death does avoid the spectre of his coming back thanks to his super human plotting skill plus the general incompetence of the law enforcement agencies. If I were the detectives on the scene, I would have spit on him a few times for good measure for the senseless tragedy he created for so many people all to satisfy his own perverted emotional needs.
I really want to end the entire recap series on the highlight of Smelly Girl, namely the central romance of the leads Choi Moo Gak and Oh Cho Rim. I don’t even feel the need debating any nitpicks on why they are not a stellar OTP, all I know is that they made me so happy with their relationship it brought back all the personal feels of romance. While the situation that brought them together was heavily contrived, the natural flow of their friendship to falling in love was as natural as any I’ve seen onscreen. I don’t know what Yoochun and Shin Se Kyung’s relationship is offscreen, whether they have become friends or are just comfortable work colleagues, whatever they have going on it translated beautifully to the sweetest of onscreen interactions. Even better was how well their characters matched up in personality, the happiest of happy endings couldn’t have happened to a better drama OTP because they made it work. They talked through issues, worked through problems, and always had each other’s back from the first moment on. I would have wanted a bit more mature tension and moments, but it felt natural for them to remain playful and fun rather than smoldering with pent up affection. It was nice of the drama to wind down on so many newlywed scenes, showing us how life would go on for Cho Rim and Moo Gak now that their mutual enemy is gone for good. It’s time to send them off, and for us to do so with a smile knowing they finally earned their lifetime of happiness together with plenty of fun times along the way.
Click here to watch The Girl Who Sees Smells.