While this was an action-packed episode with lots of good stuff happening plot-wise, there were also moments where the plot slowed down and lingered on beautiful moments of interactions between our characters.
The first was the meeting between Young Shin and Myung Hee. As she moves in to see Myung Hee, the camera follows Young Shin’s point of view, peering slowly over the corner as she sees the table full of sweet goodies – exactly as Moon Ho had told her. Young Shin takes in a breath and steels herself, because she knows this is not going to be easy. Gradually, her eyes move across the table and eventually sees Myung Hee wheeling herself towards the table to bring more cookies. As she sees Myung Hee face to face for the first time, Young Shin chokes up, holding back her tears, unable to say a word – the joy on her face is so evident, yet she has to restrain it. After Myung Hee takes her flowers, Young Shin tells Myung Hee how pretty she is – a line that’s delivered as a formal compliment from a journalist, but tinged with tenderness from a long-lost daughter. Myung Hee tells Young Shin she’s a big fan of hers. Young Shin smiles and can no longer hold back her tears and they start streaming down; it’s the proud affirmation and praise from a biological parent that she’s never had. The bittersweet irony of Myung Hee telling Young Shin that she finds her familiar, and that she also cries easily is a quiet moment of resonance between mother and daughter. It’s a really moving scene, performed so beautifully by the two actresses.
The next scene I really enjoyed was Jung Hoo and Young Shin’s exchange after she leaves Myung Hee’s house, particularly the moment when she asks him if she has killed someone before. She confesses to him that she has not asked about his past, because she’s afraid if she asks too much, he will no longer want to be with her. Jung Hoo looks at her assuringly and tells her, “I won’t”, still standing at a distance from her, respecting that she might still be afraid of him after what she last saw. She then looks at him and says what she’s always been wanting to ask – whether he has killed someone. There’s a brief pause after she asks, and the fear in her eyes is evident; even though she knows deep down he’s not a killer, there’s a fear in her that he might give an answer that will once again cause her to become distant. He shakes his head subtly and said “no”, and Young Shin’s demeanour becomes completely at ease and relaxed, saying to both him and herself, “I thought so”. It’s a moment played with such restraint, respect and regard for one another and it’s perfectly executed. It’s perfect also because Jung Hoo is dressed in his most commonly seen “Healer” disguise, yet laying bare his feelings and intentions to her, without any more pretense.
While the actors and actresses did give excellent performances in the above scenes, props must also be given to the production and directing team for constructing those sequences. There was such precision in selecting whether to focus on their faces or their hands, in framing their faces, and in choosing the right camera angles by pulling back further when there was a need to show the energy between the characters. The production team often doesn’t get praised for all the behind the scene work in editing and putting together these episodes, but certainly there was very thoughtful crafting being done here.
Besides the two powerful scenes above, we certainly got a lot of satisfactory backstory and plot progression in this episode. We finally learn from Myung Hee what happened back in 1992, that Moon Shik had called her to warn her that a group of men called “The Farmers” led by Elder were coming to get them and that she had to take Ji Ahn and run away. In running away from the men, she decided it was safest to hide her next to a rubbish cart, while she ran away and subsequently got into an accident. This is all told from Myung Hee’s perspective, but what continues to intrigue us as viewers is Moon Shik’s perspective, because we know that he certainly had a bigger role to play in what happened and he has not told her the full story. Nonetheless, this is sufficient because the focus of this episode is really on what exactly happened to Ji Ahn/Young Shin.
In the meantime, we see the gang of ‘good guys’ band together to declare war on Elder and this swings into high gear in the final half of the episode. It’s an incredibly fun, intelligent and humorous sequence as we start off with Minja, Jung Hoo, Young Shin and Moon-ho having a four way conversation through their head-sets. It was really cute to see that ‘girl power’ moment with Minja choosing to let Young Shin go on the mission, in spite of Moon-ho’s objections. Another cute moment was when Young Shin notices that cars are tailing them and says “very suspicious” with such seriousness. Jung-ho looks at her, with such pride in his eyes, and laughs to himself. I laughed out loud when Young Shin moved back into the video camera at the mortuary to wave to Minja. There are so many of these funny moments, throughout the entire sequence of the gang executing their plan to defeat Elder.
What’s even more impressive is that we even get some tender, heartwarming sequences in the midst of this plan. One of which is Moon-ho’s conversation with Min-jae in his office, where he shares with her that he has renewed meaning in his life, as he wakes up everyday and asks himself what he will do today and what ‘these kids’ will be doing. His tender, big-brotherly affection for Jung Hoo and Young Shin/Ji Ahn is very touching. (On a side-note, I somehow get a sense that Moon-ho and Min-jae will end up together in the end as the show is still not dropping her character and we keep getting these deep conversations between the two of them.) Another moment is Jung Hoo reminiscing about how Teacher used to bring him to the vault and also introducing Young Shin to his dad. It begins with Jung Hoo hilariously mimicking what Teacher used to say to him and then both of them bowing respectfully before his dad.
At the end of the episode, we see the sheer brilliance of the plan put together, which played on the strengths of every single character. They manage to secure the tape, which gets to Moon-ho just in time for his broadcast, which is also perfectly timed with Jung-hoo’s entry into Elder’s home that allows Minja to activate the camera in his glasses to send a live-feed from Elder’s residence through to the broadcast. The “good guys” certainly secured a big victory in this episode.
The big question remains of what will happen to Jung Hoo and Moon-Ho, now that they have trespassed on Elder’s territory and declared war in such a huge way. If what we know of Elder is true, he certainly must have had anticipated something and wouldn’t have consented to bringing Jung Hoo into his own residence so easily. The stakes have been raised as we move towards our grand finale and I’m certainly excited to see what unfolds next!