LOBS puts in its best episode yet with an episode full of twists and turns and a resolution to Nam Doo’s story arc that’s satisfying and also tongue-in-cheek.
The episode begins with Chi Hyun’s discovery of his dad’s death, which we did not get to see last week. We learn that he enters the room just as his dad is making the call to Joon Jae and moments before his death. He sees the drink next to his dad’s bed and realises that his dad was poisoned by his mum. He then disposes of the drink, replaces it with a cup of water before calling the police to report his dad’s death.
We then return to the moment where Joon Jae sees his dad being wheeled out, and he looks up and sees Chi Hyun. He immediately responds in anger, blaming him and his mum for what happened to his dad. This is the start of many great performances by Min Ho throughout the episode as his anguish, sorrow, anger, loss, determination all come through so clearly as he lashes out at Chi Hyun. It’s touching to see how the brotherly bond between Detective Hong and Joon Jae have developed as Detective Hong arrives on the scene and becomes an assuring presence to Joon Jae, telling him to tend to his dad while he looks into the crime scene.
We then to a scene at the pool with both Sim Chung and Nam Doo, which is one of my favourite scenes. Nam Doo tries to ask Sim Chung about how she knew that Ma Dae Young’s memories had disappeared and tells her that he’s one who has turned his back on his friends before. Sim Chung looks at him, with a completely lack of fear in her eyes and tells him plainly that if he turns his back on her, she’ll decide what to do with him. Although not spoken, she might know that Nam Doo has recovered his memories, which also means he knows she is capable of removing them again. I love how Sim Chung rises up in this episode and is no longer the vulnerable one needing protection from Joon Jae. Tae Ho breaks in then to inform them of Joon Jae’s dad.
Nam Doo, Tae Ho and Sim Chung arrive at the mortuary to see Joon Jae all broken down and overwhelmed with sorrow. Nam Doo asks Tae Ho to go to the side with him, recognising that it’s Sim Chung whom Joon Jae needs now. It’s a small act, but looking back, I see this as an affirmation of the concern and care between Nam Doo and Joon Jae. Sim Chung goes up to Joon Jae to comfort him and he asks her to remove all the memories between him and his dad because both the good and bad memories hurt so much. This was the moment that really hit me because you could really sense how heart-broken poor Joon Jae was. I’ve had issues with how the show set up and build up Joon Jae’s relationship with his previous family and with dad’s characterisation, but the fallout of his death has been really well done.
Sim Chung tells him that she can’t remove those memories, because the memories are still being held on to by Joon Jae as they are memories of loved ones. It isn’t exactly clear what rules govern the removal of memories thus far, because Sae Wa was previously able to remove memories of herself from Dam Ryung. I do wish this was explored more clearly. Nonetheless, what I really liked about this episode was how Sim Chung’s strengths really came to the forefront, both her physical strength and her ability to remove memories. Loved the reversal of roles in the car later between Joon Jae and Sim Chung as she tells him that she’ll make him happy and protect him.
Soo Hee and Chi Hyun arrive on the scene and Soo Hee gets top marks for her acting abilities, collapsing with grief upon discovering her husband’s death. While she’s lying down resting, Chi Hyun approaches Nam Doo, having found out about him while doing background checks on Joon Jae. He threatens Nam Doo, saying that he can expose his misdeeds any time, and asks Nam Doo to assist him to get rid of Joon Jae. Nam Doo agrees, saying that he’s one who’s willing to put aside his friends when there’s gain for him.
We then move to an encounter between Sim Chung, Joon Jae’s mum and Soo Hee in the washroom, where Sim Chung grabs onto Soo Hee to stop her from slapping Mo Ran and then gets a glimpse of her memories of preparing her poison. She uses this information to help Detective Hong discover a hidden room at the basement at Soo Hee’s house, which then becomes critical information used to bring Soo Hee into prison. Given that this is detention without evidence, she can only be kept for 48 hours and Soo Hee holds out by giving evasive and vague responses.
In the meantime, Chi Hyun has put together a plan with Nam Doo to kidnap Joon Jae and then feign his suicide. Immediately once Soo Hee is released, they get in on the act and bring Joon Jae to a warehouse, where Soo Hee reveals all the crimes that she has done to Joon Jae, thinking that his death is near. Little does she know that it’s all been a ploy with Nam Doo already alerting Detective Hong earlier of the entire plan. Soo Hee’s confession is recorded and she’s finally apprehended. Upon realising his mum has been arrested, Chi Hyun explodes in anger and takes a gun from a police officer to shoot Joon Jae. Sim Chung fulfils what she promised her, and jumps in front of Joon Jae to protect him.
What a fun ride to see Joon Jae and Nam Doo’s skills of deception and disguise to be used for the purpose of justice. Nam Doo’s remarks to Detective Hong and Joon Jae about why everyone thinks he’s the one who would turn on his friends seems to be a cheeky comment at viewers too. Now that I think back, we’ve never really been told during the Joseon era that Nam Doo was the one who killed Dam Ryung’s friend – all we saw was him next to Chi Hyun. However, given the previous scene between Nam Doo and Sim Chung, the assumption that almost everyone jumped too was that Nam Doo would turn on Joon Jae. I would have been alright with the storyline of Nam Doo turning on Joon Jae, which was already a twist in its own right. However, it’s even more satisfying to see Nam Doo pretend to turn on Joon Jae, but then ultimately be on the side of good, helping Joon Jae to capture his mum. In the large scheme of things, it’s also reassuring because it seems like history will not repeat itself – though to be fair, we still aren’t very clear of what exactly what role Nam Doo’s historical parallel had to play in the grand scheme of things.
In fact, the notion of history not repeating itself is also reinforced through Sim Chung’s role in this episode, where she proves herself to be more of a threat and very capable of protecting Joon Jae. I do wish we had seen more of this earlier, because we already had seen her strength in episode 2, but that was conveniently dropped along the way until now. It was great to see her also put her memory-removing capabilities to good use, to tap into Soo Hee’s memories, but to resist from removing them, because that would be letting her off too lightly.
Now, the person who’s notably absent from it all is Dae Young, who we know has lost all his memories, but still remembers the mermaid. It’s pretty obvious that Sim Chung won’t die, so what’s keeping me interested now is how the show will close the loop between past and present on both Joon Jae and Dae Young’s storyline and what exactly Chi Hyun’s role is in the Joseon era, such that he decides to kill Sae Wa and Sim Chung. We also know ajusshi is going to wake up soon, so he’ll definitely have a critical role to play in the last two episodes. Besides Joon Jae and Sim Chung, we also now have Tae Oh and Shi Ah to add to the overall sweetness of the show, and they have certainly grown on me and it would be nice to see them get together!
It is this kind of deft storytelling that I was hoping the show would move into much earlier. There is so much scope for storytelling, not just in the Joseon era, but also in terms of delving into the mythology of the mermaid and Sim Chung’s past. Instead, a lot of the second half was focused on drawing out Joon Jae and Sim Chung’s relationship and milking it for all it was worth. Nonetheless, late is better than never and it’s good to see the show moving at a swifter pace now.