Rip and Chan Take on the City: episode four

This drama continues to surprise in ways that are familiar and unsettling. There is certainly a heart in this city, but uncovering it now, may be a futile feat. Our characters are poised for the major arc of their story but questions mount, as vengeance breathes it’s first breath and hope takes it last.

Fourth City Sweep

Kyung-mi recognizes the Doctor as Jung Shi-yun, a kid she met at an orphanage as a little girl. He was dragged in one day and left just as quickly, but not before making fast friends. Over the years, he’d dropped random presents in the mailbox for her and one night even saved her from a group beat down by the other kids, for refusing to lure old men for money. Unfortunately, she’s embarrassed and upset she hasn’t heard from him in three years, so when he hands her some money and tells her it’s time she becomes independent, she dismisses it, “This is nothing, I only deal with older men.” Shi-hyun chuckles but shares that his mother was a pretty hot commodity when she was hooker, so much so, he’s never known his father— “Don’t you want to take revenge?”

Shi-hyun: Don’t you want to take revenge on the parents that abandoned you? I’m going to take revenge… on my father.

Kyung-mi: But you don’t know your father.

Shi-hyun: My father, is the world.

Shi-hyun: Kyung-mi, the world is like a mirror, if you spit and curse at it, it will spit and curse back at you. If you laugh, I’m sure that world will follow and laugh with you. So, don’t be so serious— Laugh. You’re much prettier when you laugh.

Soon after, Shi-hyun makes good on his suggestion and surprises Kyung-mi with her own place, where she announces she’s applied to the Police Academy. On graduation day, she calls to show off her uniform but he doesn’t answer and she sets off to celebrate with Soo-min. Nearby, he watches her go and voices his “Congratulations,” then throws his buzzing phone in the grass.

Now, Kyung-mi stands mind racing, in front of her best friend, the Doctor’s Son. But before he can explain, a sniper, a building away, gets his orders and shoots. The Doctor watches Kyung-mi fall dead before him. Dazed he tries to approach but the sniper rips at his feet and he hides, glancing back at Kyung-mi’s body. The Unit files in and Hyung-min spots Kyung-mi. He gathers her in his arms, yelling for her to wake up, until he’s shot in the shoulder and dragged away.

Joo-young picks Soo-min up in her new car and they reminisce about how close they came to becoming juvenile delinquents. Then, Soo-min gets her robocall confirming she’s made it into the Academy but their joyful shouting is cut short by news of Kyung-mi’s death.

At the memorial, the DC tells Min to run everything by him from now on — “I’ll manage the Unit myself.” But Min doesn’t fool easily and will wait for word from their superior. Hyung-min awakes in the hospital and meets Detective Yang on his way out. He’s calling a meeting, but Yang pulls him aside and reveals that Kyung-mi was pregnant.

Hyung-min places his ring at Kyung-mi’s grave and apologizes for not proposing sooner. The Doctor shows up to say his goodbyes as well, but comes face to face with Hyung-min and stops short, pretending to visit another site. Simultaneously, both men make their separate promises to Kyung-mi— to avenge her death, by fighting each other.

Soo-min receives her birthday gift (a cellphone), in the mail from Kyung-mi that sends her straight into a memory. She and Joo-young had gotten into a fight over a cellphone with some kids. Once Kyung-mi found out, she scolded that instead of proving their parents right for abandoning them by fighting and drinking, they should take revenge. And because the world is a mirror, “if you make this rancid world laugh with you, you’ve exacted your revenge.”

Soo-min watches the “Happy Birthday” video message left by Kyung-mi and sobs.

Emo sits in an interrogation room, as Min watches her through the glass. Seems they also had a past but she was unwilling to agree to his terms and they part ways. When he walks in the room she gasps, he sits. She smirks, he’s gotten old, but he’s convinced she hasn’t changed at all.

The DC wants more info on the Doctor, eluding that area’s his expertise but Min can’t give any, for his field work was a lifetime ago. Then the DC announces the Prosecutor’s office wants Emo, so they’ll be shipping her over. He’s suspicious that Emo’s transfer was a request directly from Commissioner Ji and warns they need to be quicker to result, as not to give their spoils to the opposing team. And insists Min share all his findings with him, using the analogy of family as an excuse.

Soo-min’s trying on her uniform, when Hyung-min walks in and hands her his account book, so she can be independent and turns to leave but Soo-min makes him a proposition—-” The Doctor, the one who killed Kyung-mi, I’m going to catch him.”

The Unit’s meeting is interrupted by a drunk Do-hoon accusing Hyung-min of putting the target ahead of his team. He points his gun at him but Hyung-min catches his arm and pins him on the desk. A flash flickers across the room ans a young reporter smiles, telling them to carry on.

Hyung-min meets with Emo to make an exchange; her freedom for the Doctor. And warns her not to look for him to visit— “Cause I’m going to catch him and kill him.” But Emo isn’t fazed, for there’s no way for him to touch the Doctor, he doesn’t have the world experience.

Emo: You’re leader of the Special Task Force Unit at your age? You won’t be able to. Because you can’t learn about the world in a book. You’ll never be able to catch him.

Hyung-min is back at the crime scene, when Maknae hands him a bullet casing, informing it’s an issue that officers also use. Hyung-min asks for files of potential female undercovers to monitor Emo, then heads up to reenact the shooting.

Meanwhile, Soo-min is stocking up the store when her manager approaches her with consolations and a drink. After a few sips she’s passed out and he locks up, then drags her in the storage closet. Good thing her jeans were too tight, his tugging wakes her. She panics and fights back, then finds a bottle and shatters it against his head. Pissed and groggy, she swipes the money from the till and leaves. There’s enough evidence to convict Soo-min of special robbery and as a result her Academy acceptance will be revoked.

Hyung-min explains, if her account is true(she’s innocent), CCTV should back it up, but the assault was premeditated, so the cameras were off. But Hyung-min, has a solution— become his undercover agent. The plan was in the works and now, with her background and arrest, she’s a perfect fit. Therefore, she can serve time and become a criminal or go to jail and leave a cop— “But as always, it’s you choice.”

Waiting for her to choose, a vision of Kyung-mi embodies Hyung-min’s conscience and questions his motives with Soo-min but he insists, it’s the only way. He persuades the Store Manager to drop assault charges; GHP was discovered in the bottle found at the scene. He then threatens him to never speak of this incident again.

Approval from Min and the Commissioner is hesitant but quick to use rookie Soo-min as their inside man. Soo-min will be taken to the Detention Center, then follow Emo to the Penitentiary once, she’s sentenced. But again, no badge, without the Doctor. That night, she enters the cell with Emo.

Soo and the Doctor spend the night searching. Soo for the Doctor, the Doctor for Shi-hyun. But both unsatisfied. Soo empty handed and the Doctor, consumed with old haunts and remorse.

On the way home, Min gets a call and detours to a rundown theme park, where the Doctor is waiting, rifle aimed. He demands answers (about Kyung-mi’s death) from Min and when he claims he has none, the Doctor fires a hole through his bag—“I could kill you here and now and finish it all.”

Min: I know how you feel but keep this in mind. The fact that you are a police officer… the fact you are undercover, no one knows that but me. If you kill me now, you’ll forever be the murderer who killed two police officers. You are a police officer.

With that, tears drip from the Doctor’s eyes as he steadies to fire, growling in frustration.

Ripgal: Heartless City, you do plan to take my heart away, huh?

Unnichan: I promise that title is growing more and more literal with every episode.

Ripgal: One minute I’m squeeing and swoony over the hotness of our resident Doctor, next I’m in a slump watching him and Hyung-min sink into devastation because of Kyung-mi! I’m so screwed T__T. Although I’d pretty much predicted this way before, it still pains me that one of my characters had to be done away with to make way for undercover Soo Min. I’m really going to miss you lots Kyung-mi. You had 3 episodes, but you used them well.

Unnichan: My heart is broken but I don’t believe this is anywhere close to the extent of what’s to come. It is hard to watch our guys struggle but since it was pretty well predicted, I was ready for it to come quickly. I love/d Go Ha-eun and would have welcomed her as our main lass but knowing she wasn’t kept me distanced. I appreciate that she set her place and her bar, in our characters’ lives to the point that it’s inevitable for us to understand their grief and thirst for revenge. I give kudos to the show for taking a rather trite sentiment and using it well.

Ripgal: There is no better and more effectively conveyed scene to me than that very first scene. My ultimate favorite of this episode– the meeting of Shi-hyun and Kyung-mi. What a beautifully executed scene, bittersweet, mixed with all sorts of complicated feels.

Unnichan: It’s the memories that put all that into perspective and we’re privy to nothing until this episode. I tell you that’s what makes this show so addictive. Like we need to know more about these characters. We need more time. And if we’re given the time, it still won’t be enough.

Ripgal: I love Hyung-min and Kyung-mi alright, but the minute Kyung-mi and Shi-hyun reacted at the sight of each other, my brain immediately stopped. How cruel and brutal of this world to have 2 friends, buddies or at most would-have-been-lovers, to face off each other like that? How painful to have 2 people who were once dearest to each, face each other on the opposite of ends, of pedestals? I don’t think I can ever forget this scene. It’s powerful, impactful and more than anything, devastating. I can only say for Kyung-mi, at least she got to see her best friend Shi-hyun. At least.

Unnichan: Devastating, indeed. It’s a game changer in a way. It makes everything we’re invested in shift ever so slightly. Like how heavily influenced she was by him. They were so close but so far or… so we think. It’s heart-wrenching when the episode ends and everything comes in to view, just a little more clearly. It’s like we were too close in the previous episodes, then when walk up a small hill and we get a much better understanding of what’s going on. But I’m sure we’ll climb an entire mountain before it’s all said and done.

Ripgal: My favourite line came from Shi-hyun, about the world being a mirror and that whatever you do to it will be reflected back at you. The way Jung Kyung-ho conveyed the scene, I don’t have enough words, speechless. It was brilliant, from the earnestness and genuineness in his speech, to the conviction in his eyes, and down to the utterly endearing caressing of Kyung-mi’s hair.

Unnichan: My favorite was right before that, “My father, is the world.” It’s beautiful somehow, so poignant. So true. Bittersweet but sincere and powerful. These moments were the cornerstone of this episode for me because it gave every character a stake in what happened to Kyung-mi and why. I usually hate the interweaving of characters and lives, especially children’s stories but this was pitch perfect for me, because it felt fluid and Shi-hyun’s relationship with her was real, not based on some puppy love 20 years ago but a connection that transcended that time. She was his best friend. You know I love the words characters speak but what sold it was the subtle passion behind them.

Ripgal: Those words, those eyes, that smile, I don’t think these little details can be forgotten, ever. Can anyone not be amazed by the maturity and awareness of this young guy? He knew from the beginning, that the world is their worst enemy, and only one can only beat it by acknowledging this fact.

Unnichan: That chuckle. I’m always intrigued by the ways we use smiles and pleasantries. It was bitter but conquering you know? And yes, that’s one of the sexiest things about Shi-hyun, his wit, his wiles, his wisdom. Ever since he was Baby Shi-hyun. That steadiness, that he knew what he was up to, what he wanted, what was right.

Unnichan: I also appreciate Shi-hyun’s influence in Kyung-mi’s life. And that’s what spoke to me, that Kyung-mi noticed that passion. They resonated and she lived her life by them. That’s some powerful stuff. That’s the kind of bond that is unbreakable. It pains me to think how confused she must have been in those last few moments.

Ripgal: This episode’s flashback scenes were my favorite. Intentional and a tad random a touch by the writer, but I really liked what was presented, a history recollection, a look into the past of both Shi-hyun and Kyung-mi.

Unnichan: Those snippets are something that this drama does well. For, I don’t believe they use one moment, one memory flippantly. Every detail is fixed in the grander scheme of this story, whether to be seen again, to convey an emotion or flesh out a character. I have to admit, they’re childhood story is cute. I don’t usually like that “we knew each other as kids” angle but this is one that works for me because they aren’t supposed to be together and they were never lovers. It’s a fate kind of thing that I can handle. It truly works for me because it’s their world and there are people in it that influence you but that doesn’t mean you’re destiny is to be in love or marry or even be friends (forever).

Ripgal: I appreciate that the drama is giving us more insight into Shi-hyun’s backstory. But can they not make him anymore perfect than he already is (as chinggu and as potential BF)? Did I interpret the scene wrongly, did he buy Kyung-mi a house? Or did he just find the perfect lil cosy crib for her?

Unnichan: Hehe. He is kind of ideal. He bought her that house, girl! And the picture was nice touch, solidifying how much he cares, thinks of her. But I didn’t get a lovers vibe from anything they were up to. They were certainly very close but he treated her like a little sister and I think she saw him as her Oppa (older brother). They cared deeply for one another but romantic love? Naw. I don’t think so. She let him take care of her and look after her. Something, I don’t think she’d ever let Hyung-min do. It was different dynamic that I know could be viewed several ways, especially since they were young but I think the one to look to here was Shi-hyun and he was protective and loving but in a platonic way. Who knows why or if things would’ve been different if they’d chosen different paths but yea, not convinced about the romantic angle at all.

Ripgal: We know why he appeared ruffled and disturbed upon Kyung-mi’s announcement of her intention to become a cop. But I wish we/drama had more time, to show why or how he distanced himself away from her after her graduation. Just because he was on to something he knew she wouldn’t approve of? Him a gangster, her a cop?

Unnichan: Perhaps. I think he wanted to protect her and he’s always been clear about what his life entailed. He respected her choice. I like that. And I don’t think there was anything to tell. He threw his phone away. He never picked up another call from her. I don’t think I care “why” though of course we hate it ended there. However, I think if he’d popped back up she’d be excited to see him and they’d pick back up from where they left off. That’s what kind of friendship they had. Haven’t we all experienced a friendship like that? So for me, I’m ok with that ending, just not the “ultimate” one.

Unnichan: I actually find their contact pretty interesting and special because, from the time he left the orphanage till they see one another this episode, she had no idea where he lived or what he did. He was someone no one would believe ever existed. Very interesting. It makes me wonder if the show is trying to tell us something with that.

Ripgal: I have a feeling that writer is out to torture our guy. What can be more damning and devastating, than to see someone you love, someone you have not seen for years, die before you without finishing her last words?

Unnichan: I keep thinking what if he’d had a few more minutes. What would he have said? Would she have let him explain? Is there a plausible explanation? She’s here, he’s there. The only way out for him was to escape. Would she have let him? It’s a circular type of thing. But she never gets the chance. They don’t. She dies with the question on her lips and he’ll forever remember the shock and doubt in her eyes.

Ripgal: Right. And it’s worse when you can’t do anything, nothing at all, to save her. It’s one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the drama because here we have two guys, who pine for the same woman, but cannot be in the same space at the same time, and who cannot even see her for the very last time.

Unnichan: It’s something that the mind can’t comprehend as quickly as the show progresses, you know. It’s like wait! I need a second to swallow my pain for them and move on but for our characters, they don’t even get that moment to mourn. The Doctor’s on the run, Hyung-min is wounded.

Ripgal: I feel horrible for Hyung-min, things couldn’t get any worse and it did, but it is Shi-hyun whom I feel and ache for. This will no doubt haunt them both forever, but it is Shi-hyun who will carry this guilt and remorse to his grave.

Unnichan: How could he not? I think it’s also how quickly it happens right? One second they’re talking and the next she’s gone. Nothing. Then bullets from the sky. He has to retreat, he can’t touch her, say goodbye. Then Hyung-min shows up.The way he peered around the wall. Ugh!

Ripgal: You know, I wish drama had given Kyung-mi more time with Hyung-min and Soo Min. The two people whom she treasured the most at current time. They could have at least shown scenes of her interacting with Soo Min in earlier episodes rather than bank on flashbacks to show how close they were and how much Kyung-mi meant to Soo Min.

Unnichan: Actually, I’m ok with it. I don’t think it would have changed the way we think of either relationship. It would only make us more attached to a character that was created to die. I say that, but I never felt Kyung-mi was manufactured, just that she served her purpose and we get that. Right in episode one, we knew what she meant to them. She could’ve died then and it wouldn’t have changed anything. Cause honestly, I think we saw how their relationship was right there at the end, it was strained for everyone. Hyung-min coming back to work, Kyung-mi believing Soo-min was still living like a screw up. What changes them is her death, not their previous connection. It’s only a catalyst.

Ripgal: I just feel that such would have left us with a greater impact (though I did cry my heart out in the hospital scene). However, I’m not gonna negate the fact that the sudden passing (without any warning whatsoever) did seem to strengthen Soo Min’s resolve to avenge her death.

Unnichan: There were a few things that bothered me about this episode, one being Soo-min as the undercover agent, without any academy training. It felt like Hunyg-min was using her. No— he is using her and that’s something that I can’t stand. I know that it’s supposed to be their grief, but he’s still the smarter one in this situation and he makes the choice purposely to use her. To put her in danger, for his own vengeance. He even turns it around like it’s really her decision. The manipulation of that moment was a little unbearable. Like when he asks about the money and she gives the explanation. His answer about CCTV and everything was clear indication that he’d already taken into consideration that she was innocent. It’s one of those things that makes me disappointed in him, like he can shoot and lie to suspects but with Soo-min, shouldn’t something be different?

Ripgal: Hyung-min’s smart, but I felt he lost a bit of himself after Kyung-mi’s death, and I somehow could relate to that pain and devastation of his. It’s as if he doesn’t care anymore as long as he avenges her death, as long as he nails the Doctor, or someone. I don’t know if I’d be able to see or do things right if I were in his shoes, heck I don’t think I’d be able to think straight too. And we know how overbearing he can be when it comes to his own assertions on things. Don’t agree with him, but I don’t blame him either.

Unnichan: Also the “conscience” moment with Hyung-min, what Kyung-mi says to him? That was very interesting, I hadn’t thought of it but it reminds me of the look on his face in episode 1. Perhaps, the hesitation we sensed from Soo-min,wasn’t that she liked him too but she could feel his disapproval. That she knew what he thought of her and didn’t want more damning evidence against her? We clocked the embarrassment but the interpretation was all wrong, get me? And if that’s that case… it was pretty masterful.

Ripgal: Great scene indeed. Another emphasis on how crucial and important she is to everyone, it’s as if she’s still part of the drama despite her being gone physically. Something like a conscientious reminder to all, that despite all the dark we’re playing with, there is always light, and she is that light. And that’s a pretty interesting point you have raised about Soo-min wanting to be recognized and approved by her sister’s man, didn’t cross my mind at all.

Ripgal: And also, any thoughts on why the shooter chose to spare Hyung-min? I didn’t give the scene much thought, until it crossed my mind that maybe.. perhaps, the shooter was someone he knew, or was assigned by someone he knew?

Unnichan: Actually what worries me more was why the Doctor was spared. The sniper gets the call and they (person on line) must have told him to take out Kyung-mi, right? He shoots at the Doctor’s feet purposely. I have a feeling I am not ready to know who this mastermind is. True, Hyung-min wasn’t killed and that’s something to think about but wasn’t this all supposed to be about the Doctor? Wasn’t he the endgame? Kyung-mi wasn’t the target or was she? That’s my question right now.

Ripgal: I didn’t give that much thought! But now you’re on it, I’m starting to think the mastermind isn’t as easy and obvious as we think. But whoever he is, he’s gonna die a horrible death. Nuff said.

Ripgal: What a surprise, the end of Ep 4! I knew, and I had a hunch it was heading that way, but I didn’t expect it to come this early. I have to admit I was initially teen weeny disappointed, that Doctor is also an undercover agent, the play between good and bad and the forbidden romance would be more interesting with him on the other side, don’t you think? But on second thought, it’s actually a better idea, with more greyish areas to explore in terms of Shi-hyun’s loyalty and the strain of having to manage double duties.

Unnichan: I had mixed feelings at first I think but I was in tears, there at the end. ‘Cause we thought we knew but we didn’t. It was a shot to the heart that I wasn’t ready for. I mean, I rarely shed tears but I was shaken by that scene big time! I was a little blindsided and it feels like a cop out, then you realize that the stakes and the circumstances are much more complex. It’s not just that he’s a cop but more that no one on the planet knows practically, so it doesn’t matter.

Ripgal: Now that it’s all out in the open for us, I cannot wait to see what the writer will do with “the Doctor”. There are so many possibilities, either he stays in the light, ventures to the dark, or remain in the grey. I’m going as far to say I’d like Shi-hyun to play with the dark for a bit until he realizes for good whether he’s really up for the undercover job.

Unnichan: Oh I am all for grey. Cause he’s already there, you know? I don’t think that he’s playing both sides just yet but who knows. It’s a fine line and he’s definitely walking it.

Ripgal: Right, like the scene of young and adult Shi-hyun at the very end? Genius! I give the production and writer an A for making the scene such an effective conveyance of Shi-hyun’s contrasting darkness and light, the internal conflict within him. This is the very first time we see Shi-hyun in complete and utter loss of direction, not knowing what to do, not knowing where to go. Little can we see the confidence and assured poise he had before. Is this the Doctor we know, the fearless who doesn’t flinch?

Unnichan: We love it all. Especially this moment of vulnerability because we knew it was there but we didn’t know how or what would uncover it, now we do and it’s excellent. Also I’m not sure about you but it’s something that makes me love him more. Not that he’s conflicted per se, but that he can be. It’s not about love or “the girl” but what losing her means, how it plays into the life he’s leading. The “why” of his motives to live this way.

Ripgal: The fascination I have with gangster/undercover genre lies exactly on the exploration of darkness and light, on the blurring of what’s right and wrong, the extent of one’s actions, and the frustration of having to live with all of that and still keep the pretense.

Unnichan: There’s something fascinating about living a double life in this way, right? I mean it’s different that being a serial killer or a rapist, it’s playing with danger but knowing you’re still on the “right” side. You are committing crime to take it down, so you get to be ruthless without being viewed as a hypocrite. ‘Cause he’s not outwardly a cop, he’s not wearing a badge and stealing drugs or money from the evidence locker.

Ripgal: Also, if he really has been an undercover for so many years, I want to know how, and why?

Unnichan: Oh certainly! How far does this go? Has it always been this way? Since he and Kyung-mi were kids? Was it Min’s idea? Or something more like what happened to Kyung-mi?

Ripgal: Oh drama, the questions are never-ending.

Unnichan: And just so we can end on a shallow note, am I the only one who noticed the Shi-hyun has always been hot?! I really don’t know WHAT Jung Kyung-ho is bathing in for this drama but I need someone to fly over to Korea, steal it and burn it! That flashback almost killed me! I’ve always liked this kid but never was he this good looking. I tell you, these kids go off to military and come back poised and ready to kill noonas all over THE WORLD!

Ripgal: Heh. Who needs a fan now?!

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4 Replies to “Rip and Chan Take on the City: episode four”

  1. No chinggu, you are not the only one who ogled at young Shi-hyun! ME TOO! <3333

    And as always you are wonderful chinggu, for putting up the recaps and stuff. I LUB YOU~!

  2. Holy shit!!!
    I’m still reeling from this episode.
    Pardon the French there ahem.

    Still not recovered from losing a wonderful cast member Go Na-eun. I’ll look out for your other projects Unnie~

    Yoo Jakga means business I guess. He’s more than established he’s writing a noir and this ep drove it home hard. Let’s hope he retains this approach throughout. Though less of the jolts jakganim. Lol.

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