Special Affairs Team TEN 2: Episode 9

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I will be honest – I started out liking this episode because it was kind of intriguing. (A virus + murder?! Whoa!) But then it fell apart after the climax. So unsatisfying an episode this was.

But at least Choi Song Hyun (Prosecutor Princess, I Need Romance) guest stars!

A news report informs the public that there is a new strain of influenza similar to the 2009 swine flu that is currently spreading in Beijing. Special attention is being made on tourists currently in China, and the reporter reminds the public to be careful and to get checked into a hospital at first sign of sickness. Though not necessarily fatal, it is still lethal if left untreated.

The reporter affirms that no one in Korea has been infected yet, but the flurry of action from the CDC suggests otherwise. A team dresses in hazmat suits and hurry up to the apartment of Hwang Sung Min, who seems to be patient zero and was found dead in his apartment in a pool of his own blood, covered in pustules.

Chapter 1: Infection

What makes this case unique is the fact that the first patient with this new flu strain was murdered, and could have been infected on purpose. Chief Jung of course would like this mystery solved quickly so that the virus doesn’t spread, and to reduce the responsibility the media and government would have to bear if it leaks out that someone was infected in the country when they claimed otherwise. Which reasoning is the priority in getting this case solved?

Still intrigued, Ji Hoon takes the case, but there is a catch: because the CDC got involved, they literally removed everything in the house for fear of bacterial infections spreading, and left only the blood stain and the white tape marking out the body. Now there’s absolutely no evidence in the apartment for the team to catalog.

Do Shik and Min Ho review the stains – Min Ho in only sterile slippers and Do Shik going overboard with the full bodysuit and breathing mask. The victim was a research analyst whose family lived in the States; pretty nondescript for a victim of such magnitude. The autopsy reveals that he was first stabbed in the bedroom in the lower abdomen, then was moved to the living room and died from a blunt force trauma to the skull by a rectangular object.

Yoo Rim guesses that the time of death was Saturday between 8PM-midnight. She does note that there seem to be wounds around the neck and wrist that show continuous bruising, as if something was tied around him, then taken off.

Ye Ri heads to where the CDC has stored all of Hwang Sung Min’s belongings and kept them under plastic sheeting. She’ll have a lot of stuff to go through now. Meanwhile Ji Hoon speaks to the head Yoon Seo Hyun (Choi Song Hyun – yay!) for going overboard in taking all of his belongings when samples could have been sufficient. She details the type of infection their dealing with: this new strain attacks the host quickly, incubating within 24-48 hours. After 48 hours and no treatment is given, the chance of death is very high. If the patient is treated, they can get well very quickly. With that note, Ji Hoon believes that they’ll start seeing other victims with the same virus by now, if they’ve been in contact with Hwang Sung Min.

Seo Hyun is bemused by Ji Hoon’s observation: is he simply waiting for more victims to appear? Ji Hoon’s logic is that if more victims appear, the killer must be one of them too as he was in contact with Hwang Sung Min. But Seo Hyun points out that the flu adapts to the body and is stronger or weaker depending on the person; it’s likely that the killer could have a stronger immunity towards it. Nevertheless she offers to work together; her team will stop the infection while his team will catch the killer. They can even work in the same office!

True to her word – her team sets up their own little center in the conference room.

Ye Ri starts cataloging and taking pictures of all of Hwang Sung Min’s belongings. He was a wealthy man with a taste for art… and for BDSM. One of his contraptions include a label for S Bar.

Ji Hoon checks out what Seo Hyun’s team has discovered; there’s an entire section labeled ‘Sexual Intent’ that includes pictures of dominatrixes, stockings, bras, handcuffs, and strappings.

Chapter 2: Spread

Min Ho investigates the apartment building’s security camera system; since all the people seen in the elevator were already questioned and cleared, it means that the killer purposely avoided cameras by going up the stairs. Do Shik also asks him to check if there were many police reports from that apartment, and it turns out there were many reports of burglary.

Do Shik figures it as so; based on how the peephole easily comes off and the strange footprints in the house, he surmises that the burglar cased the area for a month, choosing the most efficient way of moving through the rooms to steal things and wearing shoes that wouldn’t make a sound. The problem was there was an unexpected visitor that fateful night. Was the surprise enough to force the burglar to kill? Do Shik doesn’t think so, since burglars never kill, but he’ll have to ask him later when he catches him (as Min Ho correctly also guesses as Do Shik’s next move).

So Do Shik goes to one of his old contacts, a former thief who still has connections to the criminal world. He shows him the peephole and asks the former thief to inspect it and figure out what kind of work was done to it. The peephole was definitely tampered with, and it looks to be the work of someone who might be in jail a lot. Do Shik presses for a name, stating that he wants to find this burglar because he could die from a disease. Reluctantly the former thief takes out his book of names, and Do Shik takes it all without a moment’s hesitation.

Ye Ri checks out Hwang Sung Min’s calendar, and finds an appointment for dinner on the night he died; however, that night there were no card transactions and he was supposedly home all night. What does ‘dinner’ mean then? Min Ho then calls and asks if she noted anything missing from Hwang Sung Min’s belongings. Only a phone, PDA, some jewelry and some cards were gone. But after hanging up and giving some more thought to it, she realizes that the bed sheets were never part of the inventory, and the vacuum’s filter was cleaned out and removed. The killer must have erased his tracks.

(Side note: Ye Ri and Min Ho acting cute with each other is really funny but really strange. The flirtation sprung up several episodes ago, but hasn’t ceased or gone anywhere beyond the random aegyo.)

Seo Hyun interrupts Ji Hoon to inform him they have a new infected victim. Eight more people were found infected in a couple of apartment complexes, and they had no relation to each other. She believes the killer is spreading the virus himself. At that moment Do Shik calls Ji Hoon up about the list of suspected burglars that went to Hwang Sung Min’s home; none of the suspects have lived in those infected apartment complexes.

Ji Hoon receives the list and gets a background check on all the suspected burglars. He narrows it down to one: Jang Suk Bum, currently a delivery man. The infected victims are all housewives, children, or security guards – people who would be home during the day. A delivery man could have come in easy contact with them.

Do Shik and Min Ho wait for the CDC team to arrive at Jang Suk Bum’s home; he reportedly didn’t go to work today. They suit up and go up to his apartment, only to find him burst out of the bathroom feverish and developing smallpox-like bumps all over his face. He needs to get to a hospital, stat!

Suk Bum, AKA Living Scanner, is transferred to a hospital and isolated by a plastic sheeting around his bed. Given the treatment, he’s already doing better. Do Shik questions him, while the others watch via a camera in the next room. Suk Bum admits easily that he robbed from Hwang Sung Min on a Saturday after casing him for a month. He had gone in around 11:10 pm, after he knew that Hwang wouldn’t be around. However, something was off, and when he turned on the lights he realized that Hwang was dead. Scared, he ran off instead. Suk Bum does remember that every Friday he saw a woman covered up and visiting Hwang’s home. He notes that based on the speed of her visits, there’s only one thing they could possibly be doing: sex.

Since he’s the “Living Scanner,” Suk Bum swears that he remembers how the woman looks like as well.

Yoo Rim calls Ji Hoon with new test results: large amounts of an aphrodisiac were found in Hwang’s body, suggesting that he was planning a “private party” with a female. Suk Bum’s statements check out to be true, and the elevator’s CCTV confirms that there was a woman, with whom Hwang would have “dinners” with usually on a Friday; but this last time happened to be on a Saturday. Ye Ri thinks they can find the mysterious woman at S Bar, where one finds sex partners. Ji Hoon suspects that if they were together that evening, she’ll be infected and will be coming out of hiding soon.

Chapter 3: Incubation

Everyone close to Jang Suk Bum has been treated, and so the infection trail has stopped with him. Seo Hyun asks if they recovered the stolen items from Jang yet, and Ji Hoon says no. She looks uneasy — she’s hiding something! And true to form, in the parking lot, Ji Hoon finds Seo Hyun in a mysterious black car with someone else who looks quite powerful, giving him an update.

Ji Hoon and Ye Ri head to S Bar, where the manager says he kicked out Hwang Sung Min a year ago because there was an incident where one of the female clients nearly died from his choking her to death. The manager easily gives out the list of people Hwang was involved with, since he’s got nothing to hide; they’re not doing anything illegal anyways. He also does not recognize the sketch Jang Suk Bum provided of the woman he saw in the elevator.

They meet with one of Hwang’s partners, a cheery pharmacist who usually plays the ‘slave’ role in the relationship. She hasn’t seen Hwang since he got kicked out, but does remember having a good time with him. Ji Hoon shows her the picture of Hwang’s possible new partner, but she doesn’t recognize her.

Do Shik and Min Ho stake out one of the hospitals, expecting to see Hwang’s new female partner come in at any time. With some time for chitchat, Do Shik mentions that Ji Hoon visits Song Kyung Tae quite often, though neither he nor Min Ho know why. Just then, Suk Bum comes by, teasing them for being unable to find the woman. He cautions that while she may look nondescript, she’s quite vicious for having smashed his head in with a golf club.

Golf club? How’d he know that?

Do Shik shows Suk Bum a video of the crime scene before it was cleaned up completely by the CDC. Next to the body, Suk Bum swears that he saw a golf club; he didn’t see a knife though. He also points out that there were blue plaid sheets on the bed, but in the video there are none. That means, sometime between when Suk Bum had left the apartment and the CDC’s arrival, someone else had come in to clean up the scene.

Suddenly, a feverish women in shades grabs Min Ho’s attention. It’s the woman, Lee Ji Soo – and she faints from the infection.

Lee Ji Soo worked in a supermarket, though her mind wasn’t always quite ‘present’ while working. Her husband had recently lost all of their money, and now works as a taxi driver. But they don’t have a terrible relationship – in fact, her husband would pick her up if she worked late, and was sweet enough to surprise her with a rose. Her relationship with Hwang Sung Min was another matter – they had a sunbae-hoobae relationship in college, and reconnected a year ago, cheating on her husband after he lost all that money. That doesn’t really give her a motive to kill him though.

The CDC inspects Lee Ji Soo’s house, and once it’s clear, Min Ho heads in to do a sweep. Do Shik questions the husband, and asks where his wife was about between 8-12pm. Kim Joo Chul says he was out working, so he can’t be entirely sure. He ends up testing positive for the infection so the CDC takes him to a hospital right away.

Min Ho doesn’t find the golf club in the house, but Do Shik notices that Kim Joo Chul’s car has a sticker saying that he’s not on-duty, which indicates that he was lying when he said he was working. After some more digging, Min Ho finds that Kim Joo Chul had gone to Hwang Sung Min’s place between 9-10:10pm that evening, drove away, then came back around 2:20-3:15am to clean up the site just as what Suk Bum had implied. It looks like he knew about the affair and went to kill him out of revenge. The twist is, Ji Soo had the infection first, since hers progressed much more quickly, and spread it to her husband — not the other way around. Ye Ri also doesn’t trust the wife too much and thinks she is hiding something else.

Chapter 4: Change

Ji Hoon confronts Kim Joo Chul about what he actually did that Saturday evening. Though Joo Chul says he didn’t do anything but follow his wife (because the shock of her cheating was too much for him to bear), he doesn’t really have a good alibi that explains why he went back to Hwang Sung Min’s place at 2am in the morning. Nevertheless, he insists he didn’t kill the man.

Ye Ri questions Ji Soo, who remains quite vague about her relationship to Hwang Sung Min as if she thinks she could get away with it. There’s a slight bruise on Ji Soo’s neck, implying that she had been choked. (Choked by Hwang Sung Min out of murderous intent, or a role-playing sex act gone too far?) Though she continuously lies about where she went and where her husband was that night, she insists that she didn’t kill Hwang Sung Min.

Joo Chul and Ji Soo both insist that they didn’t kill the man, but they’re both lying too. They’re covering something up. Seo Hyun then arrives with news for the Ten team – Kim Joo Chul has antibodies for the infection. On top of that Ji Soo has not come in contact with anyone who had the disease other than Hwang Sung Min, or spread it to anyone else. It would be difficult for Joo Chul to have given it to her as well since he has antibodies for it.

With all this evidence, Ji Hoon confronts Ji Soo – she killed Hwang Sung Min, didn’t she? Suddenly, she admits easily that she did kill him. Min Ho then comes in to record her statement; when he asks for a motive, she says, “Do I have to have a reason?”

Do Shik then goes to talk to Joo Chul about his wife confessing, but before he can say anything, Joo Chul confesses to killing Hwang Sung Min. Eh? Min Ho goes to get a statement; Joo Chul’s motive is that he wanted to kill him for cheating with his wife. He states that he stabbed him and hit Hwang Sung Min with the golf club, but doesn’t remember where he hit the victim or how many times. He claims to have gone back to clean up and threw away the weapons in the Han River. Do Shik still finds it strange why a woman with so many odd jobs would cheat.

They retrieve the weapons and the fingerprint test results show that it’s Joo Chul’s fingerprints on the golf club. But even with all this, Do Shik and Ji Hoon don’t believe that it could be either of them. They might be protecting each other by confessing. On top of that, Do Shik discovered that Hwang Sung Min had withdrawn $150 million Won from his bank account; that same day, Joo Chul was cleared of his debt of the same amount. So did the couple kill together after scamming him of such money? With such unreliable testimonies, they’ll have to look for other evidence – untainted evidence. Such as, the items Jang Suk Bum stole, Hwang Sung Min’s bed sheets, phone, and PDA.

Do Shik hurries to visit Suk Bum to see if he stole anything else. Since Suk Bum’s prison sentence is on the line, Suk Bum admits to taking the PDA since it was so nice (the cellphone on the other hand was cheap, and therefore not worthy of taking). He had given the CDC and Seo Hyun the PDA… but managed to take out the memory card before giving it in. He gives Do Shik the memory card instead. This guy really knows where to ally himself with!

When Ji Hoon hears of this, he confronts Seo Hyun, who’s already moving her team out of the Ten team’s office. He shows her the memory card; in it were the analyst’s ranking of major companies based on their stock value – information that’s worth multi-billion dollars. He figures that Seo Hyun must have taken the phone, since it’s missing from the crime scene.

Min Ho recovers the phone back to its original state, but has discovered something in it for the team to watch. It’s a video of Ji Soo being whipped and tortured by Hwang Sung Min. She’s already crying for him to stop, but he doesn’t. From the looks of it, Ji Soo really wasn’t having an affair; she really was his slave as payment for having Hwang Sung Min bail out her husband. It was her own sacrifice.

When she didn’t show up for their dinner appointment, Hwang Sung Min sent her the video as well as a picture of him in Joo Chul’s car, blackmailing her. That became the motive for either Ji Soo or Joo Chul to kill Hwang Sung Min. Ye Ri questions Ji Soo again on why she didn’t admit it in the first place; if she had, she would have received a less severe sentence. With tears falling down silently on her face, she admits it was a sacrifice in the beginning, but ended up enjoying it later on.

For Joo Chul though, it’s news to him that Ji Soo didn’t cheat on him. It’s also the first time he’s heard of Hwang Sung Min paying off his debt. Based on his reactions, it’s likely he just covered up the crime for his wife because he loved her so much. As for Ji Soo, she might have denied the murder at first to protect her husband, and prevent him from ever hearing of her misdeeds.

Ji Hoon decides to show Joo Chul the video of his wife being tortured, who then winces in pain and grief. He adds that he hasn’t told Ji Soo about Joo Chul’s confession yet, because if he did then it means Joo Chul knew what his wife was doing all along (even if he misinterpreted it). And then Ji Soo would break down. Ji Hoon sends the husband to see his wife, and to find a way to protect her from the grief of being discovered.

So Joo Chul confronts her for her affair, acting as if she really did just cheat on him for fun, and swearing never to forgive her. But then Ji Soo says that she did it for him; she wanted to save Joo Chul from debt, even if it meant sacrificing herself. She apologizes for keeping this a secret from him.

A flashback reveals that Joo Chul regrets not being able to protect his wife as she sacrificed herself to the evil Hwang Sung Min, while Ji Soo regrets keeping the infection and secret from her husband, when her husband actually had antibodies (and was metaphorically strong enough to kill the infection/Hwang Sung Min). So the little confrontation/confession was their small way of telling each other that they still loved each other, but with the hope of preserving each other’s dignity. They don’t know the other knows more, but they reach a certain peace that allows the two to overcome this other hurdle.

With that, Do Shik wonders if they should create a situation for Ji Hoon to find out about Song Kyung Tae. The real question though is whether or not Ji Hoon can handle it.

Comments:

Okay – so as far as I understand, the wife did it. She killed Hwang Sung Min when she couldn’t handle being a slave anymore, and just so happened to contract the infection from him. The infection is a subplot, even though it featured so prominently in the beginning. Okay – I get it.

I don’t like it.

The episode got quite draggy towards the end when we concentrated on the couple. I guess it’s admirable that the two are so in tune with each other they’d both admit to murder (without the other knowing) to protect each other. However, there were too many false leads within that – were they working together? Did only one of them do it? Did they know the other did it? And on top of that, the whole flu virus became an allegory for her sex addiction: she was “infected” by Hwang Sung Min and got the “bug” for sex, and then had to hide it from her husband because it was so shameful so that he wouldn’t be infected. And then it turns out he had the antibodies so he could have “defeated” that “infection” and saved her possibly by killing Hwang Sung Min for her. When the Ten team started making references to the infection as a way to explain the couple’s relationship and future, that’s when I just wanted the episode to be over; it was not necessary to tie in the infection anymore.

It’s actually kind of disappointing that the infection became such a side plot. I thought someone had viciously infected Hwang Sung Min on purpose to make him die a torturous death (a bit like The Virus, you know?). I also hoped the Seo Hyun connection would be stronger too; she was suspicious already with that mysterious contact (whom she was probably selling information to), but we never found out why she did it as a CDC employee, and we never found out if she’d be punished. If his information was so valuable, I would have believed that she had someone kill Hwang Sung Min; why even wait for him to get killed by someone else? We got hints of her motives, but it never followed through. And I think she would have been a far more compelling culprit than this couple, who could easily have been pawns in Seo Hyun’s game. Heck, Seo Hyun could secretly be a Madam and that would have made this episode more chilling.

The thing that frustrated me the most was that this episode started out sick and perverted – similar to the last one – but I felt that it never followed through with the tension and and the perversion. The crime in the end was out of revenge, and resulted in forgiveness. Such a mellow note for a drama as grisly as Ten 2.

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