Open Thread: Stranger Episodes 5 & 6

Open Thread: Stranger Episodes 5 & 6

Open Thread: Stranger Episodes 5 & 6

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I thought I’d let Shi Mok headline our post today, because the way his mind creates this virtual reality, where he interacts with the crime scene, is just so fascinating to me. 🤩

Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:

1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question. We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 5

Oohh. This web seems to be getting more and more tangled, and as a viewer, I’m confused and intrigued. Confused, because I’m still trying to figure out who’s doing what, and with what motive, and intrigued, because Show’s doing a good job of making this story quite tantalizing, in its selective twists and reveals. If I’m curious to watch more of Show, just to see what Show is going to unveil next, that’s a pretty good thing, yes?

For a start, I’m rather startled, this episode, to realize that Min Ah – well, Ga Young, as of this episode – was discovered in Park Moo Sung’s house. I hadn’t seen that coming. However, it makes sense that a bunch of rebellious teenagers might break into a crime scene and hang out there, for cool points.

The question, though, is who put Ga Young there, and was it a planned thing, that she be discovered by those teenagers, or, had Ga Young been left there to die?

I’d been suspicious of the Deputy Chief last episode, but this episode, it seems like it may not have been his doing, after all. In fact, he seems genuinely offended, when Shi Mok asks him whether it was his doing. Plus, the way the Deputy Chief seems so sure that it’s not Shi Mok, even though there is circumstantial evidence against Shi Mok, it seems like the Deputy Chief might have some insight into who the actual culprit might be.

And right now, the most suspicious person seems to be Prosecutor Seo. There’s something about the way Lee Joon Hyuk is playing him, all extra intense and bug-eyed, that makes Prosecutor Seo seem a bit like a crazy person.

Prosecutor Seo always looks rather gleeful when talking with the Deputy Chief about things like Park Moo Sung’s murder, as well as the abduction and almost-killing of Ga Young. The way he seems to get delight from analyzing who the culprit might be, seems so.. dehumanizing, in the sense that he seems to take this as some kind of game, and it doesn’t seem to bother him, that actual people have either died, or been nearly killed.

In fact, with the suspicious way that Prosecutor Seo is behaving this episode, I can’t help but wonder if he’d set himself up to look innocent with the room salon as his alibi, while having someone else in position to nab Ga Young, near her home. That’s not impossible to do, and if he’s as sly as his gleeful expression implies, I wouldn’t put it past him, to create an elaborate set-up like this, to get himself in the clear.

And of course, Prosecutor Seo does have a motive, for getting rid of Ga Young. After all, she could implicate him in the bribery case, since she’d worked closely with Park Moo Sung.

The other person who appears rather suspicious this hour, is Kim Soo Chan. Even though he’s rather too low down the hierarchy to actually be involved in the Park Moo Sung bribery case, his intent efforts to argue that Shi Mok is the culprit who’s behind both Park Moo Sung’s murder and Ga Young’s abduction, do feel off-kilter. It makes me think that he’s doing this with an ulterior motive. And if that ulterior motive isn’t his own, then perhaps he’s acting on someone else’s behalf. But if so, who? Would that be the police chief?

Once again, Chairman Lee proves to be a cold, calculating businessman. The way he basically orders the Deputy Chief to set Shi Mok up as the scapegoat, never mind if more murders occur afterwards, is so unscrupulous. He doesn’t care that more people might die because of this, as long as they can distance themselves from Park Moo Sung’s case. And, he talks about this all so pleasantly, too.

On the side, I can’t help wondering about Mrs. Deputy Chief, Yeon Jae. She appears completely unruffled, impossibly elegant, and completely removed from all this scheming, but.. perhaps that’s the whole point? Perhaps she is intricately involved in this – and has secret discussions about all these details with her father when her husband isn’t around – and only appears to be the dutiful housewife who only cares about the affairs of the home?

Through all of this, Shi Mok remains his steady, focused self, always at the ready to parse through clues and analyze the crime at hand. The thing that concerns me, is how Shi Mok appears to readily share information with others, including characters whom we’re suspicious of.

This episode, he readily shares Ga Young’s (ok, Min Ah at the time) name and address with Sergeant Kim, even though, in the end, it’s Sergeant Kim who seems to be working extra hard to make a case against Shi Mok.

And previous to this, Shi Mok had shared details of the case with Prosecutor Young, even though she’d clearly been rubbing shoulders with Prosecutor Seo. It makes me wonder what Shi Mok’s thinking, as he shares these pieces of information.

Does he actually trust people so easily? Surely not, because he’s expressed his disillusionment around the rot – ie, the corruption – within the system? If he doesn’t trust people that easily, then why does he share information relatively easily? Is he using it as bait, so that he can see how people react to the information? I’m really quite curious about this.

We don’t get a whole lot of screen time with Yeo Jin this episode, but I have to say, that beat at the beginning of the episode, when she immediately points out that if Ga Young had been kidnapped in her home, it’s highly unlikely that the kidnapper would have locked the door behind them, is so great.

It amuses me greatly, that this entire apartment full of detectives and other police crew, did not think of this small but very important detail. I love how smart she is, and how effortlessly this conclusion seems to have come to her.

I also like that even though she’s empathetic, she is also fair. When Sergeant Kim tries to convince Yeo Jin that Shi Mok had met with Ga Young prior to the abduction, it’s clear that her instinct is not to believe it. But then, when she thinks about the fact that Shi Mok had been able to print the photograph of the school uniform, it gives her pause. I like that she doesn’t jump to conclusions either way, but is open to the evidence as presented.

I do wonder if Shi Mok’s theory, that someone’s creating an elaborate trap in order to set him up, is true? It is beginning to look that way, and it does make me wonder if Prosecutor Seo might actually be doing this? And I wonder if it’s perhaps because he’d overheard the Deputy Chief speaking with Shi Mok as a potential ally, while making overt plans to get rid of Prosecutor Seo..?

What a surprise, that Prosecutor Young comes clean to Shi Mok, about being the person who had met with Park Moo Sung before his death. How curious, though, that she claims that she was working alone. Is she telling the truth, or is she trying to protect someone else..? And, if she’s telling the truth, what was her agenda, with Park Moo Sung..?

Episode 6

This show is turning out to be a legit rollercoaster, and I am very much enjoying it.

I feel like Show’s playing a game of tease with us; the people who appear most suspicious in an episode, often get swapped out for other suspicious people of the hour, in the next episode. I mostly don’t know what to think – since it feels like all my theories will be shot down eventually anyway – but the ride itself sure is fun.

It hadn’t occurred to me before, but when Prosecutor Young explains why she’d meet up with Park Moo Sung, it all makes sense to me. Of course. It sounds perfectly logical, that she’d want to meet Park Moo Sung, to ask him to clear her father’s name, and it also makes sense, that she wouldn’t want him dead, since, y’know, he wouldn’t be able to clear her father’s name while dead and all.

But I do enjoy how Shi Mok explores all the possibilities, like when he talks through the possibility that Prosecutor Young is the culprit. It’s fascinating to me, how he thinks, and how his various hypotheses actually sound so plausible, when he tries them out. It really shows how deeply he’s been thinking about things. And, in a story world where most people are very emotionally invested in proving themselves right &/or innocent, I find Shi Mok’s relative, consistent calm very soothing.

And, Shi Mok’s got a great point; if the Deputy Chief were behind Ga Young’s abduction, why would he want to put her on display like that? Shi Mok’s right; if it had been the Deputy Chief, he would’ve wanted to get rid of Ga Young as quietly as possible.

..Which brings me to Shi Mok’s eventual point, that the culprit is likely someone who wants to punish the Deputy Chief. Right now, that’s looking like his wife, to me. After all, there’s that scene where she asks him if he’d still be married to her, if she wasn’t her father’s daughter. Plus, she tests him too, about Ga Young, and remarks how upset he must be about what happened to her. This totally sounds like passive-aggressive talk to me; Mrs. Deputy Chief definitely strikes me as a woman who would be very lethal, once scorned.

This episode, I’m glad to see Yeo Jin and Shi Mok more overtly on the same side. Not only does Yeo Jin speak up as Shi Mok’s alibi in that room where Sergeant Kim, along with everyone else, was trying to pin Shi Mok as the culprit, she takes him to dinner when she sees him walking into that store to look at perfume. These two things feel more personal than business to me, and I mean that in the best way.

From the way Yeo Jin considers that Shi Mok hasn’t eaten, to how she eventually crosses his name off her diagram of suspects, it feels like a key milestone in terms of her seeing him as a partner rather than a simple acquaintance. And I do love watching the two of them putting their heads together, as they discuss the case.

I like how Shi Mok shares intel with her, like that security recording of the resort hallway, and how they have an open discussion about it, even though there are delicate details in the video, like the fact that there are senior people from both their sides, implicated in the video. Yet, their discussion feels so neutral, like neither of them actually has any particular personal interest in either of those senior people. I like that a lot.

In particular, I love how, together, they manage to piece together the likelihood that Prosecutor Seo is in possession of Ga Young’s phone, just from his ringtone. Yes, it relies a little bit on coincidence, like how Yeo Jin had heard Prosecutor Seo’s ringtone while he’d been eavesdropping on her and her colleagues, but the result is so gratifying, that I’ll take it without complaints. Plus, there’s that beat, where, without even needing to discuss it, Yeo Jin and Shi Mok work together so seamlessly, to test Prosecutor Seo’s ringtone, when they run into him. I love it.

And there’s the way they fall into good cop bad cop roles so easily, when they visit the room salon, to talk with the Madame. They truly complement each other so well. Shi Mok’s excellent at being the bad cop, with his deadpan questioning and cold analysis, and Yeo Jin’s perfect to play good cop to his bad cop, with her natural empathy. They don’t actually get a whole lot of information from the Madame, but I do love the way Yeo Jin stays back to have that extra bit of conversation with her, and, using empathy as a springboard, actually leaves her with a pricked conscience. Really nice, I thought.

On top of this, I’m also very much enjoying the fact that Shi Mok’s speaking much more freely with Yeo Jin now. Like, when she asks him why he didn’t tell her about his doubts about Prosecutor Seo, Shi Mok shares his hesitation so easily. And then Yeo Jin analyzes it for him so readily, and tells him that that’s his sense of superiority at work.

I like this dynamic, where, if she asks him something, he tells her, and then she analyzes it for him, and includes the emotional processing bit, which he’s unable to do on his own. They strike me as partners now, and I like that a lot.

This episode, we get more time with Park Moo Sung’s son, Kyung Wan, and even though Show appears to be setting him up as another suspicious character, I tend to think that he’s telling Yeo Jin the truth, that Ga Young didn’t know who he was. From the looks of it, he likely admired her from afar – thus the stalking photos in his phone – and his father’s connection with Ga Young had nothing to do with him.

Considering that Prosecutor Young had been on my Suspicious List very recently, it did feel like quite a turnaround, to have her helping Shi Mok with his mission to search Prosecutor Seo’s office for Ga Young’s mobile phone. So now she’s tentatively off my Suspicious List.

Kim Jung Bon is still on my Suspicious List, though. I mean, he does seem pleasant to Shi Mok, and his explanations this episode, to explain how he knew things, sounded reasonable. But sometimes he does seem to have a dark shadow of an expression, and he only be pretending to have gotten over the way Shi Mok had treated him back in middle school. It’s possible that he’s been nursing a grudge, and is now making it his goal to take down Shi Mok, as revenge?

And now, to top everything off, the Deputy Chief gets promoted to Chief Prosecutor, as we round off this episode. That scene, of everyone coming out to the hallway to greet him with a deep bow, has such deep gangster echoes, I feel. Isn’t this exactly how gang members greet their chief? And, knowing that now-Chief Prosecutor has some very bad plans that include making Shi Mok a scapegoat, does not make me feel better about that. 😬

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