Special Affairs Team TEN 2: Episode 12 (Final)

Finally! The end of season two! So is Min Ho dead? Could he be alive? What is going on!? This is episode 12: Park Min Ho Kidnapping Case – Part 2.

(I apologize for the lateness in this recap going up. Trouble with my blog kind of took up my attention since I thought I was going to lose everything on this site. Hee!)

Min Ho’s death and the loss of Jin Hyuk take their toll on Ji Hoon, who feels immensely guilty for it all. The police investigate the area Jin Hyuk had come from to look for Min Ho’s body; because it’s midnight though, it’ll take a lot longer to find it. Do Shik breaks down in tears, feeling the full extent of his guilt for not being able to protect Min Ho. Back at the office, Ye Ri is also dealing with her own memories of Min Ho, and she now understands that feeling of wanting closure that he must have felt while investigating F.

Ji Hoon addresses a room full of police chiefs: From now on, the case will be focused solely on arresting Jin Hyuk. He vows to capture each person involved in the case, including those who falsely accused Jin Hyuk of the first murders. He wants complete control over the case — taking over internal investigation’s lead — and announces that this will be his team’s last case.

Chapter 1: Last Quarter

Ji Hoon barges right into the interrogation room where they’re holding Ma Seok Gi, and kicks the old detective to the floor. A few punches and then he asks why Ma wants to kill Jin Hyuk so much. But before Ji Hoon can strike him again, Ma shows him a text message from Ryu Mi Ho – the last thing she ever sent: “Please save me…”

Ye Ri meets with Mi Ho’s friend again, who’s working at a cafe, to confirm that Mi Ho’s last contact was with Ma Seok Gi several days ago. The cafe friend actually told Mi Ho to contact him, and also explained to Ma that Mi Ho was on the run after stealing some money. Initially, Mi Ho didn’t want the cops to know, but then another “detective” came to Mi Ho’s home to pick her up. That was when the friend lost contact with her.

Ye Ri then heads to Ma Seok Gi’s apartment. The place is simple for a 48-year old bachelor, and his fridge has two pictures of him with Mi Ho and her friend. A book by his bedside is a gift from Mi Ho and it’s clear he’s very attached to them. In another room, Ye Ri discovers a wall covered with pictures and post-its, tracking where Mi Ho could have gone. Maybe his resolve to keep his promise of protecting her was probably why he lashed out at Jin Hyuk.

Back at the office, Ji Hoon listens to Ma’s version of the story. He reminds him that there is a time for revenge, and the night before was not the time. What’s done is done though, and Ma gets taken away by the prosecutor’s office.

Do Shik goes to the bar district to see if he can glean any information about Jin Hyuk. From a passing promoter, he learns that Jin Hyuk was acting quite arrogantly, as if he was the big man on campus. Then Byung Man started collecting about 500 million won a week ago. Do Shik also finds Jin Hyuk’s associate at a billiards hall, carrying Jin Hyuk’s fake ID and passport. Jin Hyuk had requested them a while ago but never came to pick them up. Something’s fishy, but Do Shik doesn’t have all the information yet…

Ji Hoon tries to strike a deal with the prosecutor’s office by giving them everything they want about Lee Byung Man’s investment deals and all the people involved with him. In exchange the police get to investigate Mi Ho’s death and deal with Jin Hyuk. The prosecutor doesn’t have much to give, since the only thing they do know was where Mi Ho was before she was “sent off to her death.”

Ji Hoon heads to that location, which turns out to be a contract killer agency’s office. The place is clean, since these contract killers are professionals, but what’s strange is that usually Byung Man’s men take the victim out of the country first and then kill. In this case, just for one girl, it appears so many people were involved in getting rid of her, and within Korea nonetheless. He gets a call from Yoo Rim saying Byung Man has stitches on his forehead because he was hit by a bottle a week ago. There must have been a struggle – but with who?

Do Shik calls the forensics department to see if any other fingerprints showed up in Jin Hyuk’s house; there were none, but there were none. Because the fingerprints were all partial, it seems someone with gloves touched Jin Hyuk’s belongings too. He plots out the timeline in his head: Jin Hyuk left the bar at 1AM, was followed by internal investigations, and then, three hours later the police finally showed up at his place. It’s likely he used those three hours to get something from his home.

He gets in touch with Ji Hoon, and when the two of them combine their information, they realize that Jin Hyuk had discovered “something” about Byung Man. It was threatening enough to Byung Man that he was going to buy Jin Hyuk’s silence with 500 million won. But when they were going to make their trade, the murder happened. That’s when Jin Hyuk made the split-second decision to kidnap Min Ho and get Team Ten to find the real killer.

But if Min Ho is dead, then that means Jin Hyuk has reacquired that information — perchance a file — that will save his own skin.

Ye Ri heads to Byung Man’s mansion to get an idea of this man who was considered a ‘prince of host bars.’ Since he was being watched by the Internal Investigations, they already know all of the numbers on his call logs. But she discovers repeated calls to 114, an assistance line to the cellphone service. She follows up with them: Byung Man had requested for a search of a lost phone. The cellphone service found the phone, but Byung Man never came to pick it up because it was missing the SIM card. It turns out the phone was found in Mi Ho’s area.

Putting the pieces together: Mi Ho had discovered the information that could incriminate Byung Man in his phone’s SIM card and subsequently stole it. Several days later, Mi Ho went missing and was supposedly kidnapped by Jin Hyuk, who posed as a detective. Jin Hyuk discovered the contents in the SIM card and wanted money, but when the murders took place, he had to run away. He unfortunately didn’t have the SIM card with him, so he had to kidnap Min Ho to get the police to clear his name as the murderer while he searched for the SIM card.

The question now is, where is the SIM card? If he searched his own home and still didn’t come out of hiding, then that means it wasn’t there. Ye Ri suggests his car since he didn’t get a chance to look through it before the police took it away. And true enough – Do Shik receives an alert that Jin Hyuk is heading back to Seoul.

Ji Hoon, Ye Ri, and Do Shik head to the parking lot to where Jin Hyuk’s car is kept. If they go themselves, they won’t attract as much attention to scare Jin Hyuk away.

Chapter 2: Pursuers

Do Shik hides in a car in the parking lot, with a good view of Jin Hyuk’s SUV. Ji Hoon is stationed outside in his car and Ye Ri watches via CCTV from the office. They all lie in wait for Jin Hyuk and when Ye Ri spots him, she alerts Ji Hoon. However, Jin Hyuk sees Ji Hoon’s reflection on the glass doors and makes a run for it. Ji Hoon and Do Shik make chase, running far away from the parking lot.

At the same time, a mysterious, hooded figure gets into Jin Hyuk’s car and drives it out of the lot. When Ye Ri looks at the cameras again, she alerts the guys. Jin Hyuk has an accomplice? Or is there a ghost who’s acting on his own? Do Shik runs back to the parking lot while Ji Hoon continues to go after Jin Hyuk.

Do Shik catches the car leaving the garage and aims his gun at the driver. “YAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” he screams, as the car speeds toward him. But at the last moment, he can’t even shoot. (I know this isn’t supposed to be funny, but I actually crack up at how comically this whole scene plays out.) The car swerves around Do Shik, and the old cop stands there, momentarily stunned before he begins the chase again.

Ji Hoon is hot on Jin Hyuk’s heels, and the car comes speeding up to them. Ji Hoon jumps in front of the car and aims his gun to shoot. Except… before he can shoot, he freezes up as well, just like Do Shik.

Okay this isn’t as funny. And it’s because the two cops see Min Ho behind the wheel.

Min Ho picks Jin Hyuk up and they speed away. Ji Hoon and Do Shik continue a fruitless dash after the car, while Ye Ri feels relief over hearing Ji Hoon utter Min Ho’s name through the ear piece. While they want to catch the killer they’re also stunnedd at the sight of Min Ho alive and well.

Meanwhile, the police investigating at the hill still don’t discover a body, but find bloodied rags and Min Ho’s ID in the grass.

Chapter 3: Detective Park Min Ho

Flashback to the night on the hill – Jin Hyuk only shot Min Ho in the arm, and told him that they were going to go find “something” that would save both their lives. He could either die on the hill or join him on this search and live. Min Ho ends up helping him, which is how we got to this point in the story.

The team is relieved to know that their colleague is alive and believe that Jin Hyuk told him everything to get his assistance. However, if Jin Hyuk finds the SIM card, it’s likely he’ll dispose of Min Ho. They’ll need to figure out Jin Hyuk’s next step — fast.

Min Ho drives off the roads to a side path, and Jin Hyuk heads to the back of the car. He asks Min Ho’s help to unload some boxes, but then Jin Hyuk hits him on the back of his head with a stone and locks him up in the trunk. Great – back to square one.

Do Shik and Ye Ri later discover the SUV abandoned on another road. Ye Ri is unsure over why Jin Hyuk would still be dragging Min Ho around, when suddenly they get another call through Min Ho’s phone (which Do Shik has been carrying around, conveniently). It’s another video phone call. Jin Hyuk says that the phone only is at 70% battery life, which equates to about 2 hours left if they continue the call’s connection.

Ji Hoon is in a parking lot waiting for the prosecutor’s car to chase after Jin Hyuk. He follows them, under the impression that if they know where Jin Hyuk is, it’ll be faster to find Min Ho. Meanwhile Ye Ri and Do Shik have also located Min Ho and head out to save him before he bleeds out from his injuries.

Chapter 4: Ghost

The prosecutors head out to a closed theme park, and Ji Hoon is able to sneak by to search the area himself. Suddenly, he hears a gunshot. The prosecutors hear it too, and they all start running toward the sound. Ji Hoon walks through a forested, muddy area, wary of any shadows but sees nothing.

Finally, they all find the body. It’s Jin Hyuk, lying dead in a pool of his own blood in a back area of the park that’s under construction. Ma Seuk Gi arrives and grabs Jin Hyuk’s shirt, demanding to know where Mi Ho is. The other prosecutors have to restrain him to keep him from the body, and Ma falls down, crying over Mi Ho’s fate. Beside Jin Hyuk’s hand is the set of car keys and a penny that seems to have fallen off his car keychain.

Meanwhile, Ye Ri and Do Shik arrive at a shipyard stacked with those metal containers. Ye Ri requests backup to help search for Min Ho. When they all arrive, Do Shik has them all put their guns in his trunk first. He doesn’t trust any of them, especially if they’d just go stupidly around shooting Jin Hyuk or Min Ho (they still don’t know about Jin Hyuk’s fate). With much hesitation and doubt, all the cops — including Ma Seok Gi — put their guns in the trunk.

Min Ho’s phone battery dies, and Ye Ri loses connection to him. But then she realizes there was a light shining at Min Ho in the video. She shuts off all the outdoor lighting fixtures so that it’s pitch dark, and asks everyone to find a container with light shining out of it.

Do Shik spots it first, and when they break it open, Min Ho is sitting there, bound and barely conscious.

YAY! THEY FOUND HIM!

They quickly start to untie him and he wakes up. Now conscious, he takes out a SIM card from his pocket: “This is what all the fuss was about.” Min Ho knew that Jin Hyuk hid something in his car, based on the way he was acting. Earlier in the day, Min Ho had done a pit stop so Jin Hyuk could clear out his bladder. As Jin Hyuk stepped out, he was holding his car’s keychain and shaking it, smiling triumphantly. So later when Jin Hyuk stepped out again to the back of the car, Min Ho checked out the keychain, opened it to find a SIM card, and quickly replaced it with a penny, not knowing how important that SIM card was.

Then Min Ho got knocked out and put in the back of the trunk.

Do Shik attaches Min Ho’s ID badge on his t-shirt – a pest to the end, but a true officer if there ever was one.

Min Ho is wheeled on a gurney to the ambulance, where Ma Seok Gi and his colleague are waiting. The colleague informs Do Shik that Jin Hyuk is actually dead, so they want to talk to Min Ho first. Do Shik points at Min Ho – the dude is bleeding! Can’t he get treatment first and then talk later?!

So they compromise: Do Shik and Ma accompany Min Ho in the ambulance. Ma wants to know if Jin Hyuk ever mentioned Mi Ho, but Min Ho never heard of her while he was locked up or with Jin Hyuk. Suddenly, the ambulance comes to a screeching halt, as if it hit something. Do Shik tells everyone to stay quiet. He knew that others who were looking for the SIM card would be coming for them. He tells Ma to stay in the ambulance with Min Ho while he goes to check it out.

Gunshots are fired outside, and Ma draws his gun, at the ready. When he doesn’t hear any more sounds outside, Ma leans over Min Ho and asks about the SIM card. Ma convinces Min Ho to hand over the SIM card — by putting a gun to his head. Oh crap… Not that it’s surprising that Ma is a baddie, but poor Min Ho, on the brink of death time and time again!

Ma takes the SIM card and progresses to eat it! Life’s not always fair, and Ma pulls the trigger — except no bullets come out! It’s an empty gun! Min Ho nearly faints from relief and bangs on the wall several times. The ambulance doors open, and Ma sees Ye Ri, Do Shik, and Ji Hoon standing there with backup, waiting to arrest him.

With no way out, Ma steps out to give himself up. Ji Hoon explains how he knew Ma killed Jin Hyuk. When he was crying about Mi Ho over Jin Hyuk’s dead body, Ji Hoon noticed that Ma’s shoes were caked with the mud and concrete in that area of the amusement park. Everyone else who had just arrived there had cleaner shoes. That means Ma must have been waiting for Jin Hyuk or had been there long enough to kill him.

Ji Hoon had called Do Shik while the EMT were strapping Min Ho to the gurney. Thinking that Ma would stay close to Min Ho to get information he can’t get from Jin Hyuk, he got Do Shik to empty the cartridge of Ma’s gun before returning it to him. Pretty much found out, Seok Gi gives up his gun and holds his hands up for arrest.

Flashback to the night of the room salon killings: Ma Seok Gi had gone and killed Byung Man and the prostitute. He demanded that Byung Man take off his clothes first so that it would look like a crime of passion. Then he shot randomly around the room to make it look like an unprofessional had done the job.

Then, as Mi Ho was dragged into the contract agency by Ma’s men, Ma had written a text from Mi Ho’s phone to his: “Please save me…”

And then earlier that evening, he met with Jin Hyuk, who was stunned to find a penny rather than a SIM card in his keychain. He promised Ma that he could get it to him, but knew that was a futile promise. Ma shot him in cold blood, then ran away when cars started to approach.

With Ma arrested, Min Ho himself can finally rest easy: “How many times in one day do I have to die?” Aww – poor guy!

Chapter 5: Going Home

(Side note: The title of this chapter is in Korean, but a literal romanization of the phrase ‘going home.’ What is up with Korean and doing transliterations of English phrases? i.e. “Who Are You” is hu ah yoo if I transliterated the phonetic Korean.)

Ma’s arrest makes the evening news. It turns out Lee Byung Man was bribing officers and those 40 officers were subsequently arrested. It even affects the chief of internal investigations, who knows he has to step down after the embarrassment of having so many corrupt officers.

Team Ten starts packing up their stuff, as their unit is getting dissolved. As Min Ho puts his files in boxes, he discovers a box of new sneakers – a gift from Eun Jung. (All with me: Awwww….) But the bigger surprise is that his father comes to visit! It’s almost like their psychic connection that night on the hill had really happened, as the father had been thinking about his son lately. Min Ho assures his father that he’ll be fine and, happily enough, the father believes he’ll be fine too (and get over his depression).

Ji Hoon hands in an official letter of resignation to Chief Jung, who hopes that Ji Hoon won’t close the door between them. Though another Team Ten may exist, both know it won’t be as good as this team.

The team is in dismal spirits when Ji Hoon goes back to their office. So to make the break even more painful (but perhaps less emotional), Ji Hoon tells them that they’re no longer useful, so that’s why he’s dissolving the unit. Aw great, thanks for the morale boost! He even adds that he wants all their numbers deleted from each other’s phones so no one gets a drunk phone call. Harsh, dude!

Since the plan is to never see each other again, Do Shik suggests they take a picture. Eun Jung grabs the camera while Ye Ri, Do Shik, Ji Hoon, and Min Ho line up awkwardly in a line. Eun Jung encourages them to smile, and they do so, giving unwilling half-smiles. And as she counts down — “1, 2, 3!” — Do Shik grabs Ye Ri and Ji Hoon by the shoulders, and Min Ho gives a cheeky thumbs-up.

Aww, sniffles…

When they leave the building, they stand awkwardly, unsure how to say goodbye. Thankfully, a sun shower breaks out, forcing them to scatter and seek shelter. Min Ho and Ye Ri reach their cars first, and smile in goodbye to everyone. Well, I guess a quiet goodbye is better than a chatty one. It’s also more poignant that the usually-stoic Ji Hoon actually feels the separation more deeply than you’d think.

Goodbye Team Ten!

But it’s not over.

Ji Hoon visits Song Kyung Tae. The two sit across from each other – Kyung Tae impassive, and Ji Hoon unable to bring himself to say anything. There’s too much pain between them, and finally Ji Hoon stands up first, unable to handle the tension.

And then, we see a man being led out of prison. Voiceovers from fellow inmates indicate that the prisoner was a calm man who violently killed a normal man who had a wife and kids. We never see his face, but he looks up and down the long road, wondering which way to go.

Comments:

This was quite an ending for the drama as it was not what I expected. It’s a quiet goodbye for the viewers as well since we bid adieu to these characters with no expectation of their return. By disbanding the unit the drama suggests that the F case will go unsolved — a courageous step since the case is what drove the two seasons. That mystery arc was the thing that held it all together as we wondered if and when they were going to touch it again.

And they didn’t – until the very last second. I believe that the man who came out of prison was F. He had been in jail for eight years and it fits into the timeline of events. The first F murders occurred 10 years ago (2003), and the last murder was around 2004 (with Ji Hoon’s fiancee’s death). Then Ji Hoon started collecting seven years’ worth of evidence, bringing us to the present in 2012, and then we had the one-year time jump since Kyung Tae got arrested and put in jail.

Eight years.

And the F killer ironically went to jail for killing a man rather than the countless women he murdered. His release means that the serial killings could happen again, and that the Ten Team will be brought together again in a new season. However, since the ending was also quite neat and poignant, there doesn’t have to be a new season. The uncertainty of F can linger on, and the point is the team has moved past that case. What’s more important to them is living the rest of their lives with a smile on their face, no matter what it is they do. We have also moved past the case because we’ve seen the characters grow. Ji Hoon actually has emotions (oh my God!) and Min Ho proves that he’s invaluable to the team (and not just a pretty face). Do Shik proves his mettle and his experience is not to be discounted, and Ye Ri remains the emotional bond that keeps them grounded.

I would be happy if there were no extra season since I felt there were several missteps with this season. For one thing, the cases felt repetitive as most centered around revenge. Then, I felt that the dialogue was sometimes too metaphorical for its own good. For example, episode nine’s case about an infection both literal and in the form of a perverted BDSM-addict, and how a woman’s husband had the antibodies to literally kill the infection and could have been strong enough to save his wife from such a pervert. The whole allegory of sex as a disease was quite heavy-handed in the dialogue, and quite unnecessary.  I can’t criticize the drama for not verbalizing a lot of deductions and crime solving, but I felt that it made the cases more confusing without clearer explanations. Some I think merited a rewatch because the viewer had to make assumptions and guesses to understand how the Ten Team got to their conclusion. At the same time, the viewer sometimes knew more than the team and so we had to temper our expectations when they made a mistake because they didn’t know something.

I felt that this season was not as strong as the first one, and it certainly didn’t feel as fresh. If there were one villain for the whole season, it might help make the next season stronger. And yes, I mean having the F killer taunt Ji Hoon just as the baddie vampire L taunted Min Tae Yeon in Vampire Prosecutor 2.

Verdict: 7/10 – it was interesting, but not as tantalizing and suspenseful as the first season.

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