I have sooo much to say about this episode and will do my best to keep everything concise, but there’s so much at play to go through, especially subtext.
First off, considering Officer Yoo: If Moo Young and Jin Kang are actually siblings, does he know this and how does he know this? Why does he always fall to the ground when being overcome with–I hesitate to say emotion–anxiety, maybe? Guilt, maybe? This is not a man in control, least of all of his body.
Second: I am noticing a lot of crosswalks, the three leads walking the same crosswalks. This is symbolic of their sealed fates, perhaps. They are all walking the same path. Also, I have to wonder, since Jin Kang is caught in the middle, will she be the one to die at the end? Somebody’s going to die at the end of this, just not sure who yet.
Moo Young gets stabbed by dead eyes Officer Yoo and flees to the psychiatrist’s (he prescribes meds, so I’m going to go with that over psychologist). By some instinct, Moo Young knows this doctor can be trusted.
The day after the stabbing, Officer Yoo goes to turn himself in. Now this is interesting because he’d rather do time or be fired for stabbing Moo Young than have the truth come out about his past. Either way he looks like a murderer, so this is making the past look shadowy indeed. Yoo’s fellow officers laugh him off. It is predictably only deputy Tak and Eom Cho Rong that consider this may be a serious issue. Tak is in “protect my man” mode, so she tells Cho Rong not to look into things further, but she herself does. Props for her actually being upset at Officer Yoo this time. The only evidence of the stabbing is a video and Tak says it could also be interpreted as Moo Young stumbling while drunk. Since Moo Young didn’t go to a hospital, he’s unlikely to bring charges and Officer Yoo’s not going to get into any trouble at all.
Jin Kang is frantic when Moo Young never comes home and spends a lot of time worried and searching for him. She even calls Tak to ask if the police have any news of him, but Tak won’t tell her anything. Eventually, Moo Young is well enough to call Jin Kang and reassure her he’s at least still alive. Probably to protect her, he wants her to think he’s fine and just at a friend’s house. Of course Jin Kang isn’t buying this, and he knows that, too, but wants to ease her worries, at least momentarily.
At the psychiatrist’s house/office, the doctor asks Moo Young how he knows Im Yoo Ri (Tattoo girl). Moo Young answers, “Through you, I guess,” and then changes the subject. Hmm. He also tells the doctor that he and Officer Yoo are frenemies, not friends, but not enemies either. As with everything to do with Officer Yoo, Moo Young just seems amused by him, even after getting stabbed. This reinforces the idea that if Moo Young is playing some sort of long game, it’s with Officer Yoo, no one else.
Jin Kang is really starting to get scared now, especially when she finds out what her pretend older brother did. Something is really off with Officer Yoo. Despite that he seems to have been trying to live a good life, since meeting Moo Young his actions seem to shout out that perhaps he has that murderer God complex that Moo Young joked about a few episodes ago. Officer Yoo tells Jin Kang that he stabbed Moo Young for her. Ridiculous. He did it for himself hoping Moo Young dies and no one ever finds out the truth. Moo Young’s no saint, but Jin Kang seems to have genuine compassion for him, unlike everyone else. She pleads with Officer Yoo to no avail. This is a man she’s well rid of by this point. Their relationship is toxic and likely beyond repair unless Officer Yoo becomes willing to face what he did and has done.
Speaking of that: Tak. Instead of turning him in or doing something a normal person would do, Tak asks Officer Yoo to meet her for a drink. She is upset that he stabbed Moo Young, but is all in in helping him cover it up. Psychologically, this is horrible for Officer Yoo, who is having such a tough time because guilt is eating him alive. It is now obvious why he appeared to have some sort of demotion in his job at the beginning of the show: Not being brought to justice is literally driving him crazy.
Tak is totally helping in this process, but probably thinks she’s loving him. What’s that saying? With friends like these who needs enemies, right? Hey, Moo Young is that kid you were looking for 25 years ago? That’s ok, he doesn’t remember a thing! Not a thing! No worries, oppa! You don’t have to stab him again! I am starting to see why Jin Kook has never made a move on Tak. The kind of love she has for him is downright unhealthy for both of them. Tak should be encouraging him to confess everything, to face his punishment, and to go on and be a better person, just as he encouraged Im Yoo Ri to do.
We get a little clarity as to why Officer Yoo’s detective team won’t turn him in or let him resign. The lead detective, and his former Haesan teammate yells at him and tells him he’s been doing this for years: trying to turn himself in for things he didn’t do. Have to wonder if these crimes are imagined or not. Everything is in question at this point. Maybe Yoo’s a serial criminal or something but somehow always gets away with things. At any rate, his colleague is livid. Yoo resigning would only be one more scandal that the team just doesn’t need. “This is your s—, you deal with it. Don’t involve the team by resigning.” Ah, politics.
Meanwhile, back at the psychiatrist’s place Moo Young is remembering more and more and lo and behold he remembers this same doctor spoke to him at the Haesang University Hospital when he was being treated there as a child. The doctor finally gives in and tells him, yes, I saw you there. The doc was a first year intern, knew that Moo Young had lost his memory, and let him leave the hospital. A kid. A child all on his own with nowhere to do and who has no memories of his past? What kind of life did this really bad doctor expect he’d be walking into that would be better than staying safe at the hospital? For me, this took me out of the story completely. No matter the kid’s past, I don’t know any normal adult that would take such a risk. The doc thought it was Moo Young’s last chance to be completely free of his past. Okay, sure. A psych doctor who thinks one can be completely free of their past. Sure, sure. Moo Young is looking less and less like the crazy person here. How is this doctor at all in charge of caring for children?
Even more unbelievably, the doctor says he came across Moo Young three years later on a random day fishing at the river. Moo Young was by himself and still didn’t remember anything. At this point Moo Young became his first patient and why the doctor ended up going into pediatric psychiatry/psychology in the first place. This is all very strange and we clearly don’t have all of the information. The doc keeps mentioning the fact that he lost his memory, but this is not that unusual for someone who’s gone through a trauma, is it? And he doesn’t mention Moo Young’s photographic memory at all. Also strange.
“Wow, I guess my past was just that horrible,” Moo Young says sarcastically. He’s rightly ticked at finding all of this out. Anything, anything, child prostitution, starving on the street, anything could have happened to him when the doctor let him leave. Moo Young also now wants to know everything, and it’s his right to know. The doctor rightly feels guilty for what he did. It is his fault Moo Young has been living so recklessly since then. The kid never had any roots to build on.
Maybe the reason Moo Young plays games with people is that he’s continually trying to sound out a foundation under his feet, a lay of the land. Perhaps this is a way to compensate for not being able to tune in with people’s emotions. He again tests Jin Kang as to her commitment to him. Jin Kang has told her brother (out of fear for Moo Young’s safety) that she will no longer see Moo Young. At this point, after being stabbed, Moo Young’s gotta wonder if he should cut his losses while he can. His life is on the line and he’s rightly uneasy as to where Jin Kang’s loyalties lie. It may be safer for both of them to stop seeing each other.
Excited to find Moo Young’s runaway cat in the neighborhood, Jin Kang and Moo Young cross paths. Pretending to talk to the cat, Moo Young says it’s ok, the cat can stay or go as it pleases. Either way is fine. This scene is so great because although Moo Young doesn’t have normal emotions, it still really highlights the male vs. female struggle. Men don’t want to be ogres and keep their women captive, so they try to be nice. It’s ok, honey, either way it’s your decision. I will be happy with whatever you choose. Sounds great, right? Nope. It’s not at all what women want to hear (probably what men don’t want to hear, either). Props to Jin Kang both for calling him out on this ridiculous statement and simultaneously reassuring him that whatever she told crazy bro, she’s all in. Women want men to fight for them. They absolutely don’t want to hear that it doesn’t matter if they choose to walk away from the relationship. “Where would I go? And why would I go? I would only come back,” Jin Kang tells him. “And you said you would stop me, you would stop me from leaving.” He told her he’d fight for her and she’s asking him to keep his word without any fear because she won’t leave him either.
And they are killing me with this couple and they better not turn out to be siblings, because Moo Young responds in the exact way required: Tender but passionate kisses that tell Jin Kang he’s all in, too. The genius of the kisses are all Seo In Guk. No offense to Jung So Min, but he is the one in the driver’s seat here, but he’s playing a man taming a woman, so there you go. This man is so good at what he does, though, because he really thinks about everything in the story and how it’s all going to play out. Seo has that in common with a Bollywood fave of mine, Shahrukh Khan. Both men really love analyzing and talking about stories, and it shows in both their interviews and in their work. Even before filming The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, people were saying that Seo In Guk already had pages of questions. Everyone should be like that with their work. Everyone. Passion. It’s what’s required. Faint heart never won fair lady, and all that.
Jin Kang tells Moo Young she lied to her brother about seeing him. Moo Young unexpectedly says, “even if I tell you I hate you, don’t leave. Not even then.” Jin Kang doesn’t think this is funny (but Moo Young doesn’t intend it to be) and makes him promise he will never say such a thing. He does promise, but it’s obvious that he’s smart enough to foresee there may be a time coming when he has to say this for her safety. They jokingly decide to be secret lovers. Of course, this will never work.
This scene was so fun to pick apart, again, because of the male vs. female dynamics at play. Jin Kang seems to actually think they are going to continue on in secrecy, and Moo Young’s expression asks, “you’re not really that naive, are you?” Maybe she’s just wishful thinking. At any rate, Moo Young is not naive about this in the slightest. He knows this thing with Officer Yoo and his past has to be faced, but Moo Young may choose to fight this battle by himself.
“What if my past is so bad, it’s better not knowing?” He asks Jin Kang. Very carefully, he gauges her response: How much am I going to have to protect you from the truth? This idea clearly troubles her. This woman is not into this fight, she’s not into getting hurt by this awful past. She tells him it’s better not to know, then. With a bit of manly relief, Moo Young says not to worry about it. He will fight this battle–it’s his battle to fight. And not really an option to walk away from it, either, with his memories rapidly coming back.
Still Jin Kang strongly supports him in this, saying he’s free to follow his heart about what he should know and do. It would not be right of her to stop him. She has him promise that he’s not going to disappear on her again. Jin Kang is in essence saying that although she can’t fight this battle with him or for him, she still wants to be with him and support him in it. All of this scene is a lot of subtext and just a fantastic job by the writer, director, and actors.
[At some point a shadowy meeting takes place between the psychiatrist and Officer Yoo. Finally, they both realize that they were both at the university hospital when Moo Young was there. Whatever the doctor learns from Officer Yoo later changes how helpful he is to Moo Young.]
The next day Moo Young launches into his investigation. He is now the de facto hero of the story, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out with his seemingly sociopathic/psychotic tendencies. He visits the doctor to pump him for more information, but the doctor’s tune has changed. He’s sticking to the official story now, and is trying to plant a false memory in Moo Young’s head. They had previously talked about Moo Young’s dream or memory of someone shooting his father with a gun. No, the doctor tells him, your father committed suicide just like the official report says. Argh. Curses on you, Officer Yoo! I am really, really curious to know why the doctor has sided with Yoo in this. Really curious. Moo Young knows this is B.S. and tells the doctor he’s not going to stop trying to find out the truth. But now Moo Young is obligated to look into this official story and see if it crumbles on close inspection. We may be in for a wild ride the next couple of episodes as Moo Young tries to uncover the truth.
We do at least learn Moo Young’s real name, so that’s something: Kang Seon Ho. Kang as in Jin Kang?!?! Yikes.
The episode ends with Officer Yoo, whose smile has definitely left his eyes and is never coming back, and Moo Young, ever amused by him, meeting at a crosswalk. Not changing his spots for a moment, Moo Young’s expression is the same as it always is for the officer: I am so looking forward to messing with your head and torturing you until the end of time or until the truth comes out. Whichever comes first.
Yeah, this review ended up being a mini-novel, but, wow, story-wise it was awesome. Just so much going on and the fascinating ways that characters (and people) deal with situations. Until next time.