This week’s murderer is one of the vilest kind — preferring to mess with his victims’ minds and getting a kick at watching them self-destruct. The story hasn’t concluded in ep5, we will continue in ep6.
Synopsis: Ep5 (Data Bank)
We open to see Sung-ah running to somewhere urgently. She stops in front of a building and looks up — to see a lady standing on the parapet. Apparently, Sung-ah is familiar with the would-be suicider, cos she calls her You-kyung, and tries to stop her from jumping. However, You-kyung says she remembered her oppa, and is guilty of killing him — she claims to have “pushed him”. With resolve, You-kwong prepares to jump…but we dunno whether she does, cos we fade back to 3 days ago.
3 days earlier, Frost and Sung-ah are conducting a counselling session for a group of homeless men. Juz as Frost is making a snide remark about their unwillingness to participate, one of the participant (Kim Myung-min) speaks up and confesses that he feels guilty for what he has done in the past, until he doesn’t dare to return home.
Juz as the consultation proceeds, we cut to a parallel scene where another homeless man (Chong Man-ho) enters a toilet cubicle in a train station and starts taking out the laces on one of his sneakers. Frost concludes the consultation in his office, and asks about the missing Man-ho, who has been pretty enthusiastic about the sessions earlier. Frost sends Sung-ah to find out where is Man-ho’s whereabouts when the other guys say they have no idea. Detective Nam, meanwhile, is at the crime scene identifying Man-ho’s body and interviewing the surrounding people about Man-ho.
Sung-ah goes to the rest house where the homeless takes temporary food and shelter, and meets her longtime friend, You-kyung, by chance. You-kyung is a volunteer at the rest house. The two girls chat, and Sung-ah starts bitc*ing about Frost, but at the same time, thinks fondly of the moments when he is nice to her. Juz then, Sung-ah’s phone rings — it’s Frost. Sung-ah is happy he has finally used the phone she bought for him, but she deflates immediately when he tells her the purpose of his call. It’s to instruct Sung-ah to inform Detective Nam to call his mobile from now on. (somehow…that rings kinda false…methinks he wants to call her to let her know he is using the phone)
The camera pans to a mysterious man who is observing the two girls. Later, Sung-ah sees You-kyung talking to the mysterious guy but thinks nothing of it, since she needs to report what she has heard — that Man-ho has committed suicide that morning. But what she doesn’t know is another homeless man (Myung-min) has committed suicide by drinking pesticides on the same day at a different train station. Witnesses say he is mumbling something about being guilty before death.
Prof Song approaches Prof Cheon and requests for the files that he has retained on her earlier cases. Prof Cheon tells her that she cannot blame herself for consultations that go wrong, as he clearly sees she is still upset with the contents of the threat letters earlier. Frost enters juz then, and Prof Song excuses herself — but she is visibly warmer to him today.
Detective Nam looks for Frost in his office and tells him about the two homeless men’s suicides…and how both are linked to him via the group consultation (Man-ho and Myung-min). Frost is disturbed that his consultations may have led the two men to their deaths. He investigates the crime scene, and snaps at Sung-ah when she tries to make him feel better. Back in his office, Frost tries to find the links between the two men. But even after consulting the rest house’s owner (she says both men are totally unrelated and hardly talks to each other), he still doesn’t have any idea. With no choice, he approaches Detective Nam to obtain the men’s next of kin’s addresses.
However, Detective Nam is reluctant to give the details to Frost, since the cases have been classified and closed as suicides. Even though Detective Nam has reservations about Myung-min’s death. Cos before his death, Myung-min made a call on his rented mobile to an unknown person. Faced with a stubborn detective, Frost has no choice but try to obtain more information on the mysterious caller by himself. He goes down to the train station where Man-ho has commited suicide to look through the CCTVs’ footage in the station. True enough, Man-ho also received a call from someone before his death.
Sung-ah is despatched to the rest home for the CCTV records for the last few weeks. The rest home’s matron asks about You-kyung, whom she hasn’t seen for days. Sung-ah promises to keep in touch. Upon returning to Frost’s office, Sung-ah drops the USB containing the CCTV footage of the rest home’s inhabitants, and texts You-kyung. You-kyung never replies…until that evening, when Sung-ah is buying some meds for her (she assumed You-kyung is sick). You-kyung’s text message immediately alerts Sung-ah that something is off, cos You-kyung asks her to convey apologies to her parents and to tell them she loves them.
…And so we catch up to the opening, where Sung-ah tries to dissuade You-kyung from jumping. Unfortunately, You-kyung still jumps, but doesn’t die immediately. On the way to the hospital, You-kyung passes away, but not before she tells Sung-ah feebly “that the man was wrong”. By now, Frost is convinced that the suicides are not what they seem, and sharing the info with Detective Nam, they troop down to the victims’ homes to interview the family. Besides both having been in Frost’s counselling sessions, the 2 victims also share one similarity: both had family members who committed suicide in the same way (i.e. hanging/ poisoning).
Detective Nam receives a call about the third suicide victim, You-kyung, and rushes to the hospital. He is surprised to see Sung-ah there, but comforts her when he realises You-kyung is her good friend. (from his words, i get the sense he too, has lost someone by suicide in the past) Sung-ah asks to stay back in the hospital to comfort You-kyung’s parents. Frost drops by to visit too, and tells Sung-ah gently that she shouldn’t feel it’s her fault. During the interview with You-kyung’s parents, we learn that You-kyung has nothing to do with her brother’s death. When they were young, You-kyung’s brother slipped off the roof’s parapet while playing on it. You-kyung who was only 3 then, witnessed the accident. You-kyung’s parents are upset and puzzled why You-kyung would have thought her brother’s death was her fault.
Frost realised that someone has been manipulating the victims’ minds and planting wrong memories into their heads. Detective Nam traces the last call made on the victims’ phones to one Cho Yi-ryung. But he turns out to be another homeless — who sold his ID to a guy, who then used his ID to purchase the rental phones. Frost and Detective Nam manage to trace the phone purchase to Yoo-guk, but he turns out not to be the man they want too. And before they can haul Yoo-guk in for questioning, he receives a call…and runs towards an oncoming truck…
Prof Song visits Sung-ah, who has been absent from work the last few days, to give her a pro bono counselling session. You-kyung has been Sung-ah’s bestie since high school, and had promised to “live till a 100” in order to keep Sung-ah company. Thus, Sung-ah feels her bestie’s death is her fault — if only she has reached her house earlier, if only she has checked up on her best friend more often, if only… Prof Song chides Sung-ah to snap out of this negative train of thoughts, telling her it is ok to feel “not fine” and upset. Later in the evening, Prof Song visits Frost at his bar to chide him to pay attention to Sung-ah.
Frost visits Prof Cheon, and suggests that he stops all current counselling sessions — cos he suspects that the criminal is someone around his vicinity and also a trained psychiatrist himself (since he is able to re-write the victims’ memories through suggestions and drive them to suicide). Back in his office, Frost looks at Sung-ah’s empty desk and starts to worry.
In his room alone, Prof Cheon receives a call — from the criminal, who also calls him “Professor”. Yup, Prof Cheon definitely knows the criminal. The criminal remarks that Frost is indeed remarkable, having guessed that he is carrying out an experiment on the fallacy of human memories. With that, the criminal hangs up…but we never get to see his face.
Oof…the appearance of the nemesis. I’d expected that in OCN’s shows…but never this early. And gosh, what a nemesis for Frost. The criminal is similar to Frost — he obviously cannot feel emotion, much less compassion. (at least Frost, in his defence, can feel guilt) I find this type of murderers the MOST appalling — he keeps himself blood free and clean, standing apart to watch his victims self-mutilate. Beast.
And for once, I don’t find the didactic message in a thriller overbearing. The touchy theme of suicide is dealt with very sensitively here. Instead of focusing on the reason(s) why the victim chooses to die, it looks at how the living who are left behind deal with the loss. Usually, you’d think the victims are the poor things, but nobody fully comprehends how difficult it is for the friends, family members to cope with the loss. And one of the questions that will drive the family/friend mad is the “What ifs”… Juz as Sung-ah starts beating herself up for not arriving there earlier, not paying more attention, etc…when it isn’t even her fault that You-kyung jumped.
The harrowing guilt trips made by the survivors do not pale in comparison to the stress the victims felt before they die. And that is why I consider suicide as the most irresponsible method to evade stress — the victim is juz passing the buck onto those s/he loved.