The city shrinks as deeper relationships are revealed. And though this isn’t anything new for a Korean drama, I actually like it. It’s a reminder that the world is small. Not just the world of the drama but the underbelly it depicts; its inception, its veins, its people. They all intertwine and churn together to create the product we know so well. For our characters, with the connections so ingrained, the breach of trust, suspicion and uncertainty lifts the stakes from mere dysfunctional association to detrimental kinship.
Fifth City Sweep
Teenage Jung Shi-hyun swipes a purse with Detective Yang & Co. hot on his trail. He waves Uncle Safari down and hitches on but when the door is locked, he tosses the purse in first and Safari pulls off leaving a dismayed Shi-hyun to get pinched. A young(er) Superintendent Min waits in a side street indignant and disgusted Shi-hyun is working for the man that killed is mother. This is news to Shi-hyun, who’d always believed his mother died of cancer, for he’d found her one day dead alone in her room. And as he scattered his mother’s ashes, it was Uncle Safari who’d shared some wisdom— “Now you are truly alone in the world. You can only trust this (taps his head) and this (flips open a blade).” But no, her death was an overdosed on the drugs Safari supplied her.
After his arrest, Min charges Shi-hyun to stop creating addicts and orphans, so he chooses to enter the police force. But Min disallows Academy, afraid for Shi-hyun’s life and the goal— revenge. Instead, he’s placed undercover and sent straight to jail, where he makes his first contact (Halibut) and his first friend (Soo).
Now in the park, Min reminds the Doctor he’s police and the only way to be exonerated is to catch Safari and Pusan. But with the entire police force trailing him, even Min was unsure of his innocence until Kyung-mi died. Min’s doubt is disappointing, being the real murder could be police as well, given the left casings. The Doctor tells Min to take care of the police, then recants—- “Safari, Pusan, the police, I’m going to get them all one by one and find out why, Kyung-mi had to die.”
Soo comes by the house concerned about their next step. There’s been a lot of push back but giving up Scale’s seat shouldn’t be an option, however, the Doctor’s focus is on Emo’s release. Soo isn’t keen on his priorities, but, the Doctor doesn’t play favorites, he’d do the same for him. Then tells Soo to jump ship if he’s worried, and if anything ever goes sideways, to leave and not look back— cause he would.
Detective Kim hands in his resignation, satisfied with himself, but Hyung-min refuses it. Though personal and professional don’t mix, Do-ha could use his rage to his advantage. Kim questions the Doctor’s Son’s guilt, given eye witness accounts, he wasn’t there, but Hyung-min presents several different facial composites— “No one at the factory knows what the Doctor’s Son looks like.” Therefore, he doesn’t care who fired, it was on the Doctor’s Son’s order.
Soo-min is assigned to clean the Chief Warden’s file room as a guise for her studies. She may be in jail, but mission “Get the Badge” is still on, clad with weekly tests. Park Eun-hye interrupts her study with a rat and Soo-min follows her to another room. But when she gets suspicious, holds a chicken bone to her throat. Luckily, they’re not alone and the girls and Emo giggle at her acting, nibbling on contraband.
Hyung-min realizes the text to Flora Hotel couldn’t have been from Kyung-mi but there’s no data back up. He suspects Detective Suh and Yang places a listening device on her phone. Sure enough, when he inquires after the data, she contacts DC Kang and tells him she can no longer do his bidding.
Emo’s face and hair are a mess. Then, to top it off, she’s looking for a visitor, so Soo-min offers to roll it with her cardboard curlers. It turns out great, but Eun-hye gets the visitor. It’s Soo, checking in on Eun-hye’s assignment to shank Emo and she begins production that day, make-shifting a shiv from battery plastic. However, Soo-min’s eyes are peeled and notices Eun-hye’s dubious movements. That night, Eun-hye lunges to slice Emo but Soo-min grabs her. Emo is about to perform her own facial reconstruction, when they’re overheard by a flirty guard and Eun-hye uses the distraction to ensure replacement for the night, by attacking Soo-min. Unfortunately, in the tussle Soo-min had gotten hold of the shiv and swipes Eun-hye’s neck.
A drinking Do-ha confronts Soo about the Doctor’s Son, believing Soo knows who and where he is. But Soo smiles, claiming no knowledge. Kim threatens but Soo reminds that he’s the one that took his wrap in high school and has funded his families needs for years. He encourages Kim to be a good little boy and do his job, then pays for the meal— “Stop pretending to be innocent and go and get a massage, that’s more like you.”
Joo-young beams when she sees the Doctor’s Driver who then gets her to set up a date with Tooth. Unfortunately, it’s Driver and the Doctor who await him on his arrival. Loquacious Tooth has questions and so does the Doctor as he silently, breaks an arm and his leg, for answers. When heads for the jewels, Tooth rolls on Nang Mahn. Speaking of Nang, he and Eun-soo are with Safari who finds Meth in bed with a teenager, eager to please and Safari calls Tooth. The Doctor answers but remains silent, until it dawns on Safari it’s him and they exchange subtext-filled pleasantries. Safari has DC Kang to trace the call, while Tooth is prepped to turn himself in.
Min, Yang and Hyung-min exchange information and the meet is on. Hyung-min debriefs the Unit and places Detective Suh in the field to meet Tooth, claiming he’s female. Meanwhile, DC Kang checks in on the Unit but no one’s around, then calls Safari with info on the Tooth exchange, who deduces it’s the Doctor and sends Meth to clean things up. Driver straps Tooth to a pillar, with the Doctor in wait outside. Hyung-min confirms it’s Tooth, then when he’s in sniper position, notifies Yang to send Suh. She startled to find Tooth’s a man, but before she can leave, Hyung-min demands she call her contact. When she denies the text tampering, he shoots her in the leg.
Outside, Meth and his men make way to Tooth but find he and Suh. He’s ordered to kill but Hyung-min pellets the knife from his hands, then pops him in both legs when he tries to flee. Yang awaits Min’s approval before following Hyung-min’s orders, then they pile in to collect the bodies. With all the commotion, Eun-soo slips in and slits Tooth’s throat, while the Doctor pulls a slithering Meth from the building. Hyung-min tracks the blood to Meth, who confirms the Doctor’s Son was there.
The Doctor is retreating the scene, when bullets crack at his feet and he stops, hands raised. It’s Hyung-min with only one question on his lips — “Are you the Doctor’s Son?”
Ripgal: Can the drama be any more exciting and exhilarating that it already is chinggu? I was expecting things to dial down a bit after the intensity and emotional weightiness we had in the last episode, ala shifting the focus to Soo Min and her transformation— give us some room to breathe. At least give our Doctor and Hyung-min a break for a bit, no?! But writer seems to be enjoying all the going on full force and gear, dropping us with more hints and surprises, warning us that more is to come.
Unnichan: There were too many loose ends that needed tidying, so I’m glad that we have relentless characters. They’re minds are always humming, even when their hearts are numb. But they aren’t zombies, you know? The Doctor’s mini-melt, then he focused his strength back to what he does best. I just loved the intensity in his eyes, stance, voice, when he told Min he’d be the one to get them all. Moon, Pusan and the cops! Good stuff!
Ripgal: But I am happy that my wish is granted, I get to see how and why Shi-hyun came to be the person he is today. This is probably the only drama I’ve seen where flashbacks play such an integral part to the piecing up of a grander picture. And the great thing about these flashbacks, is the way they’re executed and presented to us. I don’t feel any sense of disconnect or disengagement, they feel so deeply entrenched within the story as a whole it’d be otherwise weird if we don’t have them in an episode.
Unnichan: Certainly. They’re captivating. It’s not like we need them, but it’s a portion of the drama that is seamless and steady, not a crutch. It’s the way this story is told. It gives the feeling that everyone has a story. Every action has a reaction. Every movement has a meaning and origin. I can accept that.
Ripgal: So now we know why Shi-hyun became an undercover agent, and weirdly, though not as smooth a transition as I’d been expecting from writer, I like the justification and reasoning behind. Don’t you think it’s refreshing to see a former hoodlum work towards being a cop in the true sense instead of doing it through the normal apply-to-police-grad-school method? I don’t know if this is workable or doable in reality, but it is no doubt interesting. Because the person playing the game isn’t someone totally unfamiliar to their surroundings, but instead, one who has been through it all since young, one who has always been part of that world.
Unnichan: It’s an angle that makes the lines blurry as well. Like Min saying he wasn’t sure about the Doctor till recent events? In a situation like this, the question of loyalty is always there. Also being apart of that world, or at least knowing it, you know the stories of the people around you, the reasons beyond their present. It changes things, don’t you think? Makes you more sympathetic and that’s the crux of the Doctor’s dilemma.
Ripgal: When Shi-hyun was pinned down by the cops, that empty and helpless stare, at the take off of someone so close and dear to heart, my heart went out to him. It’s like he’s been jolted back the real world, hopeless. All those memories of Emo, Safari Moon and young Shi-hyun came surging back.
Unnichan: Yep. It’s terribly sad but the first thing I thought was Safari’s hugest lesson, trust two things; your mind and your skill. It’s actually that flicker of disbelief and jade that passes through his eyes right before, that tore at me. Like, we know there are things, we should log away and live by but at times we get tripped up and set it aside, thinking it doesn’t apply to this person or this instance and then—- BAM! It’s a dawning that give clarity but no light.
Ripgal: As much as I love Safari as a villain and antagonist, as much as I like his craftiness…WHY?! We talked about the possible grudge they had against each other in our earlier review, I guess we were right. Betrayal and deception, all in one. That’s one thing. It’s a different thing altogether when the perpetrator is none other than one who’d taught you all you needed to know about the cruel world out there. Family and friend, Uncle Safari. OOUUCCCCH.
Unnichan: I don’t think that Safari ever saw Shi-hyun as any of those things (though feelings are tricky little buggers). But since Shi-hyun did, it hurts. It’s uncomfortable. My biggest problem with this man has always been his jealousy of a child. And that has never changed. His heart toward him has just grown harder. Now, I’m sure there’s more to the story, it’s not this simple and possibly Shi-hyun has a bigger hand in the gripe than we know, but I truly believe he’s done nothing to truly deserve his disdain. Hating a child makes little sense to me. Safari has always been clever, therefore, I won’t be surprised if Shi-hyun realized that every interaction he had with that man was false. Or that he intended to kill his mother.
Ripgal: Hmmm, I don’t want to believe that yet. And yeah maybe he was jealous Min stole Emo and Shi-hyun away from him. LOL.
Ripgal: It is a very deep end Shi-hyun is stepping into, of having to tread a path so treacherous, of having to play guise 24/7 while trying to conceal all the genuine feelings he has for the people around him. He’s not perfidious or false-hearted when it comes to people like Soo, but it’s the difficulty in trying to strike a balance between his dutiful conscience and what his heart feels.
Unnichan: The thing is, with Soo, I’m not sure there’s much difference between the two. They coincide in his mind, I believe. Now, when it comes to what he “should” feel and do, there in lies the separation. This is another thing I find fascinating about humans. There’s much more to us all than what’s deemed “good” or “bad” or “grey.” We’re much more complicated but altogether simpler than all that.
Ripgal: That’s why I loved Shi-hyun’s conversation with Soo even more, when he asked him to take off if things take a turn for the worst. I am not sure how true or honest he was at that point in time, but I could feel genuine concern, in his eyes, and in his usual calm and collected speech. Shi-hyun cares.
Unnichan: Aw, he does care but don’t you love how he undercuts it with, “cause I would?” Giving Soo a way out that he would never take, yea that’s a big heart right there. Also it feels like a hint, that perhaps he’ll have the chance to put his words into play.
Ripgal: Soo, what a revelation he is in this episode. I least expected writer to throw us there just like that, the real Soo. Not the Soo we’ve been made to know – the right hand man aide of Doctor, his friend. I love the bromance, I really do. I think Shi-hyun, despite his undercover status, made a good friend out of Soo, and treats him like a brother more than a friend.
Unnichan: Yea, Soo is the Doctor’s friend. But like Emo, could be his undoing, in my mind. I had hoped not but with this episode, the reckless decisions he made… highly disappointing. But, for some reason I found Soo’s mother waiting for him outside prison interesting. I know we may never see her again, but I think it gives us tangible information about Soo that we’ve had little of thus far. This episode changes that. He’s someone’s precious son.
Ripgal: Didn’t notice, I only had eyes for Shi-hyun! But we know from that scene, Soo’s been brought up with love and lots and lots of money. I wonder why he’s in the business though, maybe his family’s also part of the world. But what does Shi-hyun know? So many more curveballs ahead, that I’m not surprised anymore. Soo an informant and Soo plotting to rid off Emo? Don’t you think chinggu, the writer loves to play with us, our minds? It’s such a pervading element in this drama, we think we know but we really do not know!
Unnichan: Am I the only one irritated as heck over the insubordinate asshat, that is Dec. Kim? Seriously, I knew he had a little crush on Kyung-mi and I was cool with that, it happens but the way he acted after her death was not only insensitive it was outrageously selfish. I wish Hyung-min had let him quit. Then to know is connection to Soo?! He sucks as a man.
Ripgal: His outburst I can only explain as his deep affection for Kyung-mi as a colleague and friend (possibly a crush), quite understandable, didn’t really bother me (writer’s fault for having not elaborated more on their relationship). But what bothers me is his relationship with Soo and that he’d owed Soo something in the past. Something tells me he’s gonna be a key player in the game in coming episodes.
Unnichan: He’s definitely been playing his part already, I’m sure. He’s weak and rash, though I mean this as an insult, it’s directed at his character, not just a flippant dismissal. Soo, even insinuates that he’s dirty or lazy, or both. Either way, he’s a very small self-absorbed man, whom I think feels guilty about Kyung-mi’s death.
Ripgal: But Soo, oh Soo, as much as I love you all bromancy with Shi-hyun, that’s not right! I know he’s just doing his job to eliminate all obstacles, all possible threat to Shi-hyun. While understandable from his point of view, I’m not very comfortable with it. Perhaps I’m wary of what will happen to their friendship. I hate it brothers turn against each other. Why can’t people just be friends with people in dramas? Sigh.
Unnichan: ‘Cause art imitates life? Plus, there’s that myth of this thin line somewhere between love and hate. Which isn’t exactly true. However, I have a feeling Soo isn’t just lashing out at or eliminating Emo for the Doctor. I guess that would be cute and bromantic, but Soo is human. Therefore, I’m positive his reasons have more to do with himself, than with his loyalty to the Doctor. He’s not selfless. And if he’s thinking, what I’ve always thought in regards to her… I don’t blame him in the least.
Ripgal: Next up, our very own rookie undercover Soo Min. Before I go on, what is that about her looking so prim pretty with full make-up on in prison?! Or does Nam Gyu Ri have naturally RED lips?! I’m nitpicking alright, but given how nice and comfy prisons are in Korea (with furniture books and TV!), I’m gonna let that slide.
Unnichan: Haha! Well, I haven’t really thought about it. If I begin to allow myself to get distracted by Gyu-ri’s face, I couldn’t watch this drama. The one thing that has surprisingly distracted me more is how skinny she is. She’s entirely too thin! I’m afraid she’s going to snap.
Ripgal: But a pretty good follow up touch from writer, about the rookie’s training inside prison, don’t you think? And to think I was all fussy about her being assigned to be an undercover with no prior training at all haha. At least writer knows his/her logic. And hey, even her training ground looks cool. I wish I had an exercise/working space like that.
Unnichan: I’m fine with her learning, but she shouldn’t be on “mission” with no training. Writer gets no pass from me for that. It works better for me that it was an off-the-cuff decision from Hyung-min and to cover that up, he throws in some independent study. It’s true that at least she’ll get some training but in reality, a rookie isn’t even allowed a gun without practice or a beat without chaperone, let alone, sent on the field. I also believe that Soo-min is too impressionable for the job. It’s another parallel in this drama— Soo-min and Shi-hyun. The difference being, he’s actually had the real world training Emo eluded to in last episode.
Ripgal: You said you didn’t trust Emo? I love her more and more! She’s not the nicest person around I gotta say, and maybe not as smart as I think she is, or want her to be, but I see from her an ability to know who are the ones worth going all the way for. She can be quite crass and tactless, but I like that she doesn’t treat Soo Min/a noob in prison like dirt or disregards her presence. Soo Min may be able to learn some tricks from her.
Unnichan: Liking and trusting are totally different. I don’t care about niceties. Plus, the fact she treats human beings, like humans beings doesn’t entitle her to trust either. Sorry chinggu, no sale here. But yes, I think that we have another parallel relationship here (Safari:Shi-hyun-Emo:Soo-min). Soo-min is pliable and will more than likely grow to truly care for Emo because she’s not a “bad” woman, she just does things Soo-min’s world deems “bad.”
Ripgal: What did you think about Soo Min’s aggressive behavior in this episode? I thought she pretty much rawked it all out. Not too into Nam Gyu-ri’s acting yet, but I already like her feistyness and boldness. Of course, we know from the past that she isn’t your typical prim lady-like type of heroine, but it was damn good to see her step on that woman! *point proven I AM EVIL*
Unnichan: I definitely liked that she took down 0471 (Eun-hye). It served it’s purpose, the first time and the second. It’s probably the first of the two things that work in Soo-min’s favor, given her lack or experience; her sincerity. She has no chance of survival if her actions or reactions are lies and being she has been thrown in this situation with nothing, she can only live it out with an air of veritability.
Ripgal: That aside, I feel her experience in prison, especially her unintentional cut on the woman, may cause a strain on her mentally? She’s been through so much ever since Kyung-mi’s death, and having to endure prison life, hurt someone or anyone when she needs to, do things that she’s not supposed to do but must do, it can only be numbed by time.
Unnichan: Someone with years of training could have a hard time in a situation like this one;isolation, confinement, desperation. Therefore, it’s inevitable for her to feel the same. There’s no way, something won’t take it’s toll. However, I hope prison teaches her the street smarts she needs to stay one step out of Emo’s grasp. This is where I’ll say that Emo’s compassion could certainly come in handy and keep her blinded to Soo-min’s identity. And even perhaps, make me feel a smidgen of remorse for her.
Ripgal: Since we’re on scenes, I’m sure you can guess my favorite off the bat — cool and kickass Doctor doing his job in this episode. That scene of him getting back at Tooth at the apartment, so much awesome ! The whole action sequence, coupled with Jung Kyung-ho’s amazingly acted out machismo (burning from inside but with considerable restraint), so slick and utterly sexy! The heartless is back, and I love love LOVE IT!
Unnichan: It started out awesome, Tooth walks in, halls in his goons, Driver tries to move but the Doctor raises a hand to hold off till exactly the right second… them boom in the ‘caps! It was lovely. It’s precision. It’s about timing, the dance for him. He’s that good. The quietness of the Doctor also works, not like Won Bin’s Ahjussi but it’s used excessively in the scene to contrast Tooth’s need for speech. Also it’s ‘cause you know what he wants, he doesn’t have to explain.
Ripgal: The wonderful thing about this man is that despite the tragedy, the sadness that befell him (loss of Kyung-mi), he reverts back to icy, cool, calm and collected, immediately, without a trace of the emotionally perturbed Shi-hyun who’d just lost a loved one.
Unnichan: Compartmentalization works wonders! But also, like I said, he’s focusing all his energies, like Hyung-min in one direction. They’re both being very emotional, with each blow, break or pop. Men need goals. And these men have it in spades.
Ripgal: But Hyung-min and his going off the track, by taking things into his own hands– what did you think Unni? Although I wasn’t quite comfy about his aggressive approaches in earlier episodes, I somehow felt for him in this Ep? Or in other words, I understood on a more emotional level on why he’d opted for such extreme measure.
Unnichan: I don’t think that Hyung-min has quite gone off the deep end yet, but he certainly is trigger happy lately. I didn’t mind where he pointed his gun this episode but it was still a bit like, WHOA. However, it takes me back to the parallelism of our men because now, we know they are both in the same field, just not playing by the same rules… Or are they?
Ripgal: If nothing happened to Kyung-mi, if she didn’t die, I’d be all out condemning his ignorance. But drama is pushing it to higher levels, it tries to tell us that some things are inevitable. When your brain is all focused on something that is so drastically unacceptable, like death of a person which you think could have been avoided, it’s different altogether. I understood the irrationality and rashness behind his actions, and though I don’t agree with them, he did what he had to do.
Unnichan: Like I said in ep 1— Is justice just, if it’s justified? Or rather, though it’s justified is it justice? In and of itself, it’s a conundrum but these men also make it a burden of sorts. It’s a weight they carry, whether intentional or not. And are you speaking about destiny here? I think that there is a sense of destiny in every step of revenge.
Ripgal: Hyung-min and his discovery of the mole? Quite an Infernal Affairs reference there don’t you think so? That Emo was actually betrayed by the other old sleazy hack, and that the police chief’s also a rotten apple that cannot be trusted. No place is truly clean, the gangsters are not, the cops are not either. Drama really does allude to reality, that the world is not as simple as we think, and corruption is everywhere. The office and the people alike…I didn’t expect the rat to be the female cop though, I kept thinking about the rookie cop earlier.
Unnichan: Exactly. It’s the humanness we all have. Being human encompasses a myriad of things and unfortunately, we’re all a little rotten. Some fight against it, but most of us succumb. Doesn’t make it right, just a real.
Ripgal: Hah. But way to go writer, Hyung-min may not be doing things the right way, but the fact that you’re making him just as on it as Shi-hyun, I’m a happy girl! Brainy ones are always sexy!
Unnichan: There’s nothing sexier than a man who thinks.Pass me a spoon! Both of these characters give us the best of both, brain and brawn. They also cross lines. They push limits and test the waters, break the rules and all for reasons that are rational, even if not entirely righteous. It’s something we identify with and would perhaps do ourselves if given the chance. These are some perfectly flawed men, which makes them more desirable— they appear real. Tangible.
Ripgal: And alas, the meeting I was waiting for! Will they face-off?!!
Unnichan: To be honest, I truly hope not, it’s too early! I’m not ready. I think I need less blind rage in Hyung-min’s vision and more time for them both to understand the other. I love stories where enemies begin to understand one another and I want to give them the time and space to develop that.
Ripgal: I love that too, but I’m not sure if Hyung-min will ever get to that point. He needs anger management lessons.
Ripgal: But the best scene, though brief, has to be his phone conversation with Safari. Am I the only one? Did your heart just stop for a bit, when the eerie silence was broken by Safari’s sudden call out to the Doctor? Omg I truly screamed my heart out from the inside! They know each other SO well, hence the smile, hence the play of words, wit and sarcasm in their conversation. How can I not love them more?
Unnichan: I also loved the phone showdown between the Doctor and Safari. It’s this cat and mouse, though the analogy doesn’t quite fit. It’s more like a dog and a wolf… with nothing in between. Hehehe.
Ripgal: Just like how Hyung-min and Shi-hyun are on the same level, Safari and Shi-hyun are on an even higher level, they’re both so aware. I really think that was the best executed scene in this whole episode. I love my fighting scenes, but I love it when characters really use their brains and intellect, and go all out on mental war. Way to go sexiness!
Unnichan: We’re working with some intelli-Gents here. The Doctor and Safari haven’t even had a face-to-face right? All their interactions have been over the phone or through other people. And I adore their conversations, so rife with sly intent and simmering wrath and galvanic irritation. When we think about the themes in this drama, it’s that who can (do) you trust, what can (do) you believe— concept. And when you realize the answer is— no one and nothing, it’s frightening. I think all of our characters will or has had to wrestle with this reality.
Ripgal: I also like that things are coming out slowly; for Shi-hyun and for the cops.
Unnichan: Right, but it’s like our Doctor has become this mirage right? He isn’t completely visible to anyone, not those around him, those searching for him, not even us entirely, yet he wants to be seen. At least seen for what he is, not mistaken for who he’s not.
Ripgal: And he can only be more and more perfect. That’s why we wub him, no?