Missing Noir M (ep7): Recap

Sorry for the late post, cos I was away…hopefully I can write a bumper issue this week. (depends on whether i can finish watching..argh, why are there so many new shows??!!)

Anyway, ep7 is another tear jerker — and questions again, our assumptions of so-called “wayward” individuals.

Synopsis (Home):

Opening hawt scene: In a love motel, a fat ahjusshi waits for the whore he bought to finish showering. The prostitute in question opens the bathroom door, clad only in a white bathrobe. The ahjusshi drops his pants and starts pawing at the bathrobe immediately after he hands over a wad of cash to the prostitute. The camera pans slowly up…and it’s Seo-joon???! In a blonde wig??

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At the Police HQ, Police Comm Park gets lectured by his boss, for setting up M team. The boss claims that while there are “results”, the results are disastrous. A govt backed pharmaceutical company has been busted, and now the popular candidate for Chief of Justice has stepped down — Police Comm Park assures his boss that he has planted someone in M to make the other 2 team members toe the line. And who should be that “someone”, but Dae-young? (yah, i’ve always known he is quite the bootlicker) To his credit though, Dae-young doesn’t like this new assignment given to him by Police Comm Park.

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We cut to Soo-hyun, who talks to a PI to enlist his help to look for somebody. (dunno who) After the PI leaves, a punky looking girl sits down next to him, and passes him a pic of a nerdy, geeky boy. She tells Soo-hyun to look for this boy, and all she has to tell him is he is very brainy, as his nick is “Professor”. Soo-hyun politely refuses the assignment, saying that the info she gave is too scanty. In return, the girl passes him a wad of notes, and pleads (puppy-eyes) with Soo-hyun that she has cleaned out her bank account juz to enlist his help. Discomfited, Soo-hyun agrees to try. He asks for the girl’s mobile no, but before he can take out his phone, she has walked off, with a breezy “I will know when you found him” comment.

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Back at M’s base, Soo-hyun passes the pic to Seo-joon and requests her help to trace the boy based on his high school uniform and his estd age (17-19). Seo-joon manages to locate the private high school in Incheon which the boy attends. Soo-hyun decides to check it out. As he passes by Seo-joon, he notices a tattoo in the the form of a Morse Code behind Seo-joon’s neck.

At the high school, Soo-hyun speaks with the administrator, who informs him that the boy, Lee Dong-woo, has been expelled 3 months ago cos he was caught selling answers from his previous exams to first year students. He did that cos he was unable to foot the dormitory fees, and it’s kinda obvious that the administrator looks down on students like Dong-woo, who entered private schools due to bursaries or scholarships (aka a “freeloader”/ “charity case”). Soo-hyun checks out Dong-woo’s classmate, who informs Soo-hyun that the last he saw Dong-woo was at an internet cafe. Dong-woo has ran away from home again to escape his abusive father, who routinely beats him up when drunk. Dong-woo’s mum had died years back, and his dad is his only family.

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Seo-joon then calls to inform Soo-hyun that she has contacted Dong-woo’s dad, who is unaware that his son had been expelled from school. She also told Soo-hyun that Dong-woo’s phone has been switched off ever since the expulsion, and the last SNS post was also 3 months back. She downloads Dong-woo’s SNS feeds into Soo-hyun’s phone. Dong-woo’s last post talks about going “home” to a “place where nobody betrays anybody”. Dong-woo’s earlier posts also show that some other classmates are involved in selling the answer sheets, but only he was made to take the blame.

At M’s base, Seo-joon continues to trawl the police database for reports on juvenile delinquency, hoping to get a hit by using Dong-woo’s name. And she got lucky. Apparently, Dong-woo was captured on CCTV in the last 3 months knifing an ahjumma, by the name of Park Ji-sook. But cos Dong-woo is a minor, his prints are not in the police database, thus Park Ji-sook’s assailant remains “at large”.

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Since Dong-woo’s case is now linked with a homicide, Police Comm Park is called in for a debriefing. Seo-joon also traced an earlier case where the suspect is Lee Dong-woo, but the victim is an ahjusshi, Seo Seong-beom, who was killed in a motel. Dae-young enters the room quietly while Seo-joon and Soo-hyun are briefing Police Comm Park. When he overhears Police Comm Park’s reluctance to pass any more cases to M, he makes a suggestion to let the regional police force claim the credit while M team helps in the investigations. Police Comm Park reluctantly agrees.

After Police Comm Park leaves, the trio sit down to discuss the case. Seo-joon highlights that while Ji-sook and Seong-beom are totally unrelated, both are embroiled in legal tussles or court cases of some kinds. Ji-sook is fighting over inheritance with her family members, and Seong-beom is sued for incest by his family members. Soo-hyun guesses that Dong-woo may have been hired by someone to act as an assassin. Dae-young suggests to split the work up — he will look into the people around Ji-sook/ Seong-beom, and Soo-hyun/ Seo-joon will proceed with investigating Dong-woo. Soo-hyun cautions the team to proceed delicately, cos if the middle man figures out that the police are on Dong-woo’s tail, s/he may kill Dong-woo to silence him.

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Dae-young stakes out the places where Seong-beom’s family members hang out, and one of his relatives appears highly suspicious. According to Dae-young’s partner, he came to large amounts of money recently, and is the first in line to gain from Seong-beom’s death. Dae-young instructs his partner to trace the man’s bank account to find out if he has contacted a middle man to hire an assassin.

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Seo-joon and Soo-hyun meanwhile use another method to trace the middleman. Seo-joon locates the forums where Dong-woo frequented before his online silence in the last 3 months. One of the entities whom Dong-woo chatted with is someone with the ID “mom94”. mom94 reminds Dong-woo that if he wants to return “home”, he muz pay his “due rent”. mom94 is registered with a dead person’s ID, and Soo-hyun alerts Seo-joon to find out if mom94 has been speaking to teens between 10-19 in chatrooms. He suspects that the middle man may be using minors to commit crimes because they are harder for the police to trace. Seo-joon agrees and seems to speak from experience that young adults who run away from home are easily led astray.

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Seo-joon prints out all the profiles of teens who has chatted with mom94, and calls each of them. Soo-hyun pounds the streets using the same list to locate the kids. He returns to M’s base, and confirms what Seo-joon suspected — all the teens listed have gone missing like Dong-woo. And their parents have never filed any missing persons’ reports. Juz then, Soo-hyun receives a call.

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Dae-young, who is at the station trying to trace Seong-beom relative’s route in the last few days also receives an urgent call.

Both men rush down to a crime scene — Dong-woo has been found, dead. The forensics pass Dong-woo’s handphone to Soo-hyun. In the last message to mom94, Dong-woo confesses that he is afraid, and wants to confess for his crime the day after he stabs Ji-sook. Dr Kang examines the body and states that Dong-woo probably died 3 days ago, and all prints on his body has been wiped clean…other than a ligature mark on his neck. Dr Kang then points out a tattoo behind Dong-woo’s neck — it’s the same one on Seo-joon. A Morse Code tattoo of “HOME”. Dae-young receives a call then from the forensics team — they claim that Dong-woo’s prints on Seong-beom’s body is suspicious. Dae-young leaves to investigate.

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Soo-hyun returns back to M to confront Seo-joon, who is looking through the CCTV footages when Dong-woo was murdered. She notices a girl hurrying away from the dumping ground where Dong-woo was found, and appears to know her. Seo-joon enlarges the image, and focuses on the Morse Code tattoo behind the girl’s neck…and she identifies the girl as Ban Hyo-jeong (cameo by Son Soo-hyun, previously seen in Blood as Min Ga-yeon). Soo-hyun arrives then, and catches Seo-joon the same time she utters Hyo-jeong’s name.

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Flashback to 3 years ago, when Seo-joon was a high schooler. She returned home one day to find her mum necking a stranger ahjusshi at their door. She yelled at her mum for being so shameless and ran off while the neighbours tittered about Seo-joon’s mum being a whore. Alone and hungry, Seo-joon was befriended by a blonde-haired girl — Hyo-jeong — who took her under the wings and introduced Seo-joon to the gang at HOME. Every member of HOME got a tattoo of a Morse Code behind their necks. The gang’s mode of income was duping men of their money — Seo-joon was usually set up as bait and the gang would blackmail the clients who paid for sex with underaged girls (i.e. Seo-joon). Seo-joon finally got tired of the cheating and robbery, deciding to quit HOME. She changed her address and contact details in order to evade HOME members from tracing her.

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Seo-joon tells Soo-hyun that HOME members are a bunch of teens with sad backgrounds. Hyo-jeong herself is an orphan, who has been adopted and then abandoned countless times. Thus, the primal need for a sense of belonging. From what she knows, HOME doesn’t involve themselves in murders. Soo-hyun counters that they may have changed and become more vicious. He promises to keep Seo-joon’s background a secret — in exchange for Seo-joon not ratting on him for keeping Ji-an’s mobile phone.

We switch scene to see Hyo-jeong buying a flick knife from a hardware store…and she notices the news report of Dong-woo’s body being discovered by the police.

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At the forensics lab, the lab assts tell Dae-young that the fingerprints found on Seong-beom do not match those found on Ji-sook. That means Dong-woo may have an accomplice who is likely also a minor. Seo-joon manages to trace the location of HOME, based on the last handphone signal on Dong-woo’s phone. HOME is located in a derelict apartment building — but the inhabitants have fled and burnt incriminating evidence before the police arrive.

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The real estate agent tells Soo-hyun that he took pity on the homeless teens and have offered the old apartment for them to stay on minimal rent. He also gave Soo-hyun Hyo-jeong’s number, citing that he normally deals with this agashhi for rental payments. In the apartment, the forensics comb through the remaining stuff and finds a match for the fingerprint found on Seong-beom’s body. It belongs to a teen with a hearing disability — Yang Jeong-ho. Dae-young surmises that Hyo-jeong should be looking for him urgently now, to silence him like Dong-woo.

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Dae-young volunteers to find out Hyo-jeong’s location (Seo-joon is busy tracking the number Soo-hyun gave her), and Soo-hyun will look into Jeong-ho. However, Soo-hyun finds someone familiar in the photos — it’s the girl who approached him to look for Dong-woo. He goes back to the park where he first met the girl, and sure enough, she turns up. He invites her (Lee Sae-young) back to the station for interview, and tells her that Dong-woo is dead after returning the wad of cash to her. Soo-hyun then tells her that the police suspect Dong-woo and Jeong-ho to be involved in contract killing, and asks her about Jeong-ho (who is nicknamed “God” by the teens). Sae-young is adamant that Jeong-ho and Dong-woo are innocent and both have studied hard and promised to fund HOME when they graduate and find jobs. She also defends Hyo-jeong when Soo-hyun shows her the CCTV footage which caught Hyo-jeong around the garbage dump where Dong-woo’s body was found. In tears, Sae-young accuses Soo-hyun like “those people”, who will never understand them and never bothered to find out how HOME operates.

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Meanwhile, Dae-young checks out the convenience store where Jeong-ho used to work. The store owner claims Jeong-ho is thief and an aggressive brat, and shows Dae-young where Jeong-ho had previously broken his nose. However, as Dae-young leaves the store, he catches the store owner bullying the part time girl and whacking her on her head repeatedly for mismanaging the inventory. At the local police station, Dae-young retrieves the file where the store owner has sued Jeong-ho for assault. The police officer says the store owner is notorious around the neighbourhood, for shortchanging minors and not paying them the minimal wages. He also says that the “assault” is juz an accident which the store owner has blown out of proportions. Hyo-jeong was the one who bailed Jeong-ho out, and even coughed out a large amount of cash for settlement.

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Seo-joon alerts Soo-hyun to the recent calls made on Hyo-jeong’s phone — they are all to family protection services across the city. Thinking that these may be the places where Hyo-jeong has squirreled the kids, Soo-hyun sets out to investigate. Seo-joon packs up to leave HOME when she notices a series of post-it notes on the wall. They are all messages of encouragement to the inhabitants of HOME, in another room behind, Seo-joon finds traces of a birthday party, and someone’s interest in jewelry making.

Soo-hyun interviews the family protection unit’s chief, who tells him that Hyo-jeong had approached him to entreat him to take in some of her “kids”. She has put up a stubborn fight when told there is no vacancy at the moment, so the chief had taken note of her contact details and promised to inform her personally if an opening surfaces in future.

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On the way back to HOME, Soo-hyun and Dae-young converse and both find that the Hyo-jeong they assumed is somehow different from the Hyo-jeong they discovered. Seo-joon too, also realises HOME is a different place now. She enters Hyo-jeong’s room, and finds a red diary where Hyo-jeong keeps the pic taken way in the past when Seo-joon is with HOME…and also a printed internet article on Seo-joon’s graduation from police force. Seo-joon then recalls that she has seen Hyo-jeong briefly during her training as a police officer. Hyo-jeong had waved to her, but Seo-joon pointedly ignored her old friend.

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Soo-hyun returns to interview Sae-young, and apologises that he may have mistaken the role of HOME. It’s a safe house, not a breeding place for crime. Sae-young finally tells Soo-hyun what she overheard a few months back. After Hyo-jeong paid off Jeong-ho’s settlement with the nasty store owner, Jeong-ho returns one night with an envelope of cash. Hyo-jeong asked him where he got the money, but Jeong-ho refused to answer. He left HOME that night with Dong-woo. Hyo-jeong was frantic with worry and tried many ways to find them…Sae-young tries to help by approaching Soo-hyun directly. Soo-hyun asks whether Sae-young is aware if Hyo-jeong has talked with any other adults, Sae-young says no.

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At M’s base, the trio feels that Hyo-jeong’s group of runaway teens must have been made used of by some unscrupulous adults. And Jeong-ho is definitely in danger…and yes, we cut over to Hyo-jeong discovering Jeong-ho’s body. She notices that he has clutched a bunch of dirt in his right fist. Upon checking his phone, Hyo-jeong sees a familiar number. She calls and a man answers.

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Seo-joon informs the guys that Hyo-jeong probably can locate Jeong-ho faster than them, since she has downloaded a tracking app in all their handphones. Juz then, the team receives a call — Jeong-ho’s body has been discovered. And Dae-young’s partner also calls him — he has managed to trace the identity of the middleman who hired Jeong-ho as contract killer. Upon tracing the van where Seong-beom’s relative has secretly transferred money over, Dae-young discovers that the owner is none other than a full time mobster and loan shark, Kim Yong-guen. And Kim Yong-guen is also the real estate agent who rented the apartment for HOME.

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Hyo-jeong also recognises Yong-guen’s number in Jeong-ho’s phone, cos she has baited Yong-guen out… to kill him. She calls him in hiding from the meeting place, and asks if Yong-guen had contacted Jeong-ho recently. Yong-guen says no, and twists an evil looking garrote in his hands. However, he is still unprepared for the surprise attack from Hyo-jeong.

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By then Soo-hyun and Seo-joon have also arrived. They rush up when they hear sounds of a fight and see Hyo-jeong poised over Yong-guen with a knife. Yong-guen has smirkingly confessed to his ploy — he had lent money to Hyo-jeong for Jeong-ho’s settlement with the store owner, but had jacked up the interest rate when Hyo-jeong didn’t pay on time. Later, when Jeong-ho knew about it, Yong-guen had introduced him to an ahjusshi who wanted Seong-beom killed. In return, Jeong-ho can waive off the loan payments. Dong-woo was later involved when the first kill didn’t manage to “repay” the full loan. When the boys wanted to turn themselves in to the police, Yong-guen had them murdered.

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Seo-joon manages to almost cajol Hyo-jeong to put down the knife…but Yong-guen’s hand starts to inch towards a piece of sharp glass. Soo-hyun notices and prepares to shoot…but omg!!…Dae-young (who had been warned about Soo-hyun’s previous kills as an FBI agent) assumes Soo-hyun is going to shoot Hyo-jeong, and he pushes Soo-hyun. The gun misfires…and Yong-guen takes the opportunity to slash Hyo-jeong’s throat. (Dae-young…i’m so not going to forgive u! go stand in the naughty corner!!)

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With that huge amount of blood loss, Hyo-jeong doesn’t make it. But in her final breaths, she tears off a necklace and passes it to Seo-joon (who is basically blubbering and asking for Hyo-jeong’s forgiveness). Hyo-jeong also says that it’s because of Seo-joon she decides to change.

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Epilogue: The disgusting Yong-guen continues to claim he slashed Hyo-jeong in self defense and insists on getting a lawyer before he answers anymore questions about Dong-woo and Jeong-ho. (seasoned bastard) Dae-young apologises for screwing up, claiming he didn’t see the piece of glass in Yong-guen’s hand. Soo-hyun in turn, asks Dae-young why he can’t trust him. Seo-joon uses the key from the necklace Hyo-jeong gave her and unlock a metal tin box found in Hyo-jeong’s room. It contains letters of recommendation together with money for all the kids in HOME, to enable them to find a place in a good shelter or vocational school, so that they can have brighter futures. In Hyo-jeong’s diary, she credited HOME’s change of direction to Seo-joon. When Hyo-jeong saw Seo-joon at the police school (and got rebuffed for trying to get her attention), Hyo-jeong decided that she should be someone whom Seo-joon need not be ashamed of. From that day onwards, Hyo-jeong transformed her HOME painstakingly from a crime seed bed, to a real safe shelter for abused, runaway teens.

Review

Argh…the cracks are beginning to show in M team. Although not much attention has been paid to our characters since M tends to focus on story progression, we do get hints of each player’s characteristics. Dae-young may be the sniffer hound type, who acts on gut instincts and street smart. But the same street smart is also applied to how he panders to his higher ups in order to climb the corporate ladder. He isn’t those police officers who are only interested in solving crimes but uninterested in promotions or salary increments (i.e. those that step on their bosses’ toes). Conversely, Soo-hyun plays the role of toe-stepper. He isn’t afraid to bend rules to his will (unlike Dae-young, who reads the rules to find the loopholes), cos he has a bunch of credentials backing him. Though those credentials that Soo-hyun has are also the same things which his bosses are afraid of. It’s kinda like they can’t touch him directly, but they also don’t like that he is that good. Plus, Soo-hyun is somehow a ticking time bomb. We know he has been taking amphetamines, and has issues with being too trigger happy (?) in the past. Again, these are reasons why Dae-young was sent to “watch” over Soo-hyun.

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I’m glad we get to see a bit of Seo-joon’s rather rough background in ep7, but more importantly, Seo-joon trusts Soo-hyun and has fully allied herself with him. Probably the two recognise a kindred spirit in each other — both harbour a rather dark past, and are trying to walk out from it. But by aligning herself with Soo-hyun, it appears now that Dae-young is the one who is “ostracised” from the team. And he screws any chance of joining them by pushing away Soo-hyun cos he wrongly assumes he is going to shoot Hyo-jeong.

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At least the takeaway for end of ep7 is Dae-young having to question himself on whether he should place 200% trust in his team mates, or continue to doubt them and act on the orders of Police Comm Park to “leash” them and prevent “incidents” happening. Dae-young, pls be good in the next eps!

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