It takes a lot for kooriyuki to keep herself updated on a new show in Kdramaland, given the massive amount of backlogs she has…so when she tells me she has caught up with Piper‘s most recent ep, it muz be good. [kooriyuki: And since when am I a benchmark?! LOL but Show IS really getting increasingly interesting]

Synopsis:

Police Comm releases the info to Myung-ha about Sung-chan’s “involvement” in her parents’ death, and Sung-chan’s blasé attitude towards the incident only angers her further. So no surprise when Myung-ha stabs Sung-chan in the back at the police hearing (for the Negotiation Team’s supposed interference in the Bank Robber case).

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While reviewing Team Leader Oh’s recovered recorder pen from the police depository, Sung-chan finds the someone has wiped clean the recorder’s memory. Police Comm takes this opportunity to question Sung-chan’s meddling in police affairs, and proposes to remove him from his post. Myung-ha agrees, and coldly ignores Sung-chan’s surprised looks. However, the Negotiation Team is also suspended from duties pending the outcome of the hearing.

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But while Sung-chan is despondently handing over his police pass days later (and wondering how in the world he offended Myung-ha), he overhears on the police radio a bomb threat against TNN TV station (where Hee-sung works). The threat arises from an ousted Senior Reporter, who was unfairly sacked due to his age. He does a one-man protest in TNN’s lobby after his forced resignation, but is generally ignored by everyone. Hee-sung (his hoobae) tries to talk sense into him, and gets into a scuffle instead. In the process, Snr Reporter rips off Hee-sung’s staff pass.

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Next we see, Snr Reporter is stuffing a haversack full of Molotov cocktails while TNN’s CEO receives a strange phone call from the Piper about a bomb threat. The SWAT team (led by Team Leader Han) is activated to respond to the threat. They scour the entire TNN building, and don’t find anything suspicious (at the moment). Myung-ha, who was previously from SWAT, tags along once she hears about the Piper’s association to the case. Sung-chan (who grabs back his staff pass), runs up to the Police Comm’s office and tries to persuade him to reinstate him and the Negotiation Team. Sung-chan says that the police will need them to deal with the potential terrorist. Police Comm agrees — but on the condition the SWAT team DO find something in TNN.

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And Myung-ha does. With Hee-sung’s help, she enters the TV studio, and spots a suspicious looking black suitcase under a table. Hee-sung doesn’t recognize the luggage, and claims it wasn’t there previously. The SWAT and Explosives teams are called in, and the detector picks up a large amount of metal inside the luggage. But juz as they are about to deactivate the “bomb”, a female reporter runs in to claim the luggage as hers. (whoops) And yes, the so-called bomb is juz a suitcase filled with clothes…and clothes hangers. The police (and TNN staff) heave a sigh of collective relief, thinking it’s juz a prank call…only to have all the TVs in the station suddenly showing montages of buildings exploding and collapsing, and a timer counting down to 3 days (or 76h) later.

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Worried that the bomb threat is still present, Police Comm has no choice but to reinstate Sung-chan (since it’s related to his Piper case which he has been harping about) and the Negotiation Team. Meanwhile, Chairman Seo calls TNN CEO and warns him about the “documents which cannot be released”. And said documents are exactly what are on Snr Reporter’s mind, as he dresses up for “work”. Using Hee-sung’s stolen pass (ehhh…how come the Security side hasn’t disabled its use?) he manages to gain access into TNN, and into the CEO’s office. Snr Reporter tased CEO and drags him to the TNN’s basement, where all the records of reporters’ investigation on media cases are stored. Snr Reporter demands that CEO reveals to him the “sensitive data” of the company.

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CEO feigns ignorance, but unwittingly his gaze sidles over to a painting hanging on the wall. Snr Reporter notices it, and removes the painting to reveal a safe behind it. He beats up CEO to get him to open the safe, but CEO claims he has no idea what the password is. The SWAT team + Sung-chan and Myung-ha arrive by then, and panicking, Snr Reporter lights up one of his Molotov and threatens to burn CEO alive (he had doused CEO with kerosene). Sung-chan intervenes, and pretends to make a call to Chairman Seo (who is the largest shareholder at TNN), claiming that if CEO doesn’t know the password, Chairman Seo should.

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Later Sung-chan hangs up the phone and sadly says that “Chairman Seo” doesn’t care what happens to CEO, and suggests that CEO should be aware of the password. Feeling betrayed, CEO agrees to open the safe. Sung-chan suggests that Snr Reporter takes him as a hostage instead, since the CEO is “no longer useful”. Snr Reporter agrees…but once he has Sung-chan under his grip, he sneers that he knows Sung-chan was trying to trick him juz now, and he also knows that Sung-chan is Chairman Seo’s lackey. In anger, he douses Sung-chan with kerosene and forces CEO to pack up the contents of the safe (a series of folders). CEO secretly pours the remaining kerosene into the duffel bag when Snr Reporter isn’t looking. Snr Reporter drags Sung-chan out, and demands a getaway car.

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Surrounded by SWAT in the basement carpark, Snr Reporter gets more agitated. Myung-ha tries to intervene by cajoling Snr Reporter to release Sung-chan and give himself up. (fat chance) In desperation, Myung-ha reveals that she understands how being abused and bullied by “higher ups” feel, since she lost her parents due to the Govt, and K Group’s pressure. Using Snr Reporter’s moment of distraction at Myung-ha’s sob story, Sung-chan grabs the duffel bag and counter-threatens Snr Reporter he will burn it. The SWAT team takes this chance to pin down Snr Reporter…in the ensuing chaos, Sung-chan lets go of the duffel bag, and CEO immediately kicks the remnant of the Molotov towards it. The documents are burnt to ashes and CEO reports to Chairman Seo that they are destroyed.

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Hee-sung, who is a witness to the incident, and is privy to TNN’s link to Chairman Seo’s dirty secrets, isn’t convinced that CEO hasn’t kept a copy of the documents elsewhere. Later in the evening, he confronts the CEO, and although CEO refuses to admit that there is a copy, his twitchy behavior gives him away. Seems like Hee-sung isn’t the only one who is suspicious…the count down set by the Piper continues to run on Underground’s website.

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And yup, Sung-chan finally understands why Myung-ha was angry with him. However, he counters that he is only a negotiator, he isn’t God, and he can’t control the eventual outcome of all negotiations. Myung-ha is still too upset to bendy words and logic with him, and leaves.

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Myung-ha visits the psychiatrist she has been seeing for her PTSD after her parents’ deaths. (fire always triggers a relapse for Myung-ha, and the Molotov cocktail didn’t help) Depressed, Myung-ha asks her psychiatrist if using empathy during negotiations is so wrong. Her psychiatrist says that her is her strength, even though it may appear like a weakness.
imageSung-chan learns that Snr Reporter has claimed that he is the Piper during the interrogation. Unconvinced, Sung-chan logs on to Underground and discovers the continued ticking counter…and the pic of the exploding buildings. The pic seems to trigger a memory for Sung-chan, and he has his colleague Sung-bum (who is a computer whiz) to look into unearthing Anonymous’ identity and IP address of Underground’s site owner.

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While on the way back to HQ, Myung-ha receives an urgent call from police dispatch about a lady who has locked herself with her boyfriend in her apartment and is attempting to commit mass suicide. Myung-ha rushes over to try to talk to the lady. We see a distraught woman sitting among empty beer cans and a man who has been poisoned in the living room. The woman lifts the poison bottle to her lips and is about to swallow the concoction when she hears Myung-ha at the door. Based on the police files, Myung-ha learns that Suicide Lady’s boyfriend was arrested months back for date rape. However, he got away scot free after appealing against his sentence.

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In return, Rapist Boyfriend punishes Suicide Lady by harrassing, abusing, and raping her on a daily basis. Unable to cope with the abuses, Suicide Lady decides to kill Rapist Boyfriend and end her life as well. Thankfully, Myung-ha’s empathetic counseling gets through to the Suicide Lady, and she agrees to let the paramedics rescue her boyfriend.

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Unfortunately, Myung-ha’s help in saving Suicide Lady + Rapist Boyfriend’s lives doesn’t turn out well. Suicide Lady gets treated by the male police officers as a potential murderer, and unable to take the sneers and constant pressure in the remand cell, she tries to commit suicide again by biting through her tongue. (ow) In desperation, Myung-ha shoves her own fingers into Suicide Lady’s mouth to stop her. (double ow) Although Myung-ha isn’t seriously hurt, her confidence has taken a big hit. She begins to wonder if negotiation is really the suitable job for her since her helping people ended up endangering them, and whether she is as Sung-chan puts it, too “emotionally invested” to be a good negotiator.

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On Sung-chan’s end, he reads through the file on Team Leader Oh’s involvement in squashing the riot that led to Myung-ha parents’ deaths. He learns that Police Comm and Team Leader Oh are previously colleagues under the SWAT team, and Team Leader Oh is directly involved in the riot control. However, he chooses to adopt a psychologically scarred Myung-ha days after she was sent to the orphanage. The count-down timer on Underground website also appears to have stopped — at 3h 1min and 25 secs. The familiar number (the codename which Anonymous uses) triggers Sung-chan to ask Sung-bum to look into it.

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Meanwhile, Director Kang (Chairman Seo’s brother-in-law) pairs up with Police Comm — he also suspects that TNN CEO’s has a copy of the incriminating files locked up somewhere. He promises to work with the Police Comm to uncover it, in order to topple Chairman Seo’s iron grip on the company. The pair decides that Hee-sung may be a potential spy to win over.

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The trial for Suicide Lady begins a few days later, and Myung-ha volunteers herself as witness. Unfortunately, things are not looking good for Suicide Lady, as the lawyer whom Rapist Boyfriend hired starts to imply that Suicide Lady is delusional, and Rapist Boyfriend is actually a victim. He begins to paint a picture of Suicide Lady as clingy, and desperate to please Rapist Boyfriend (sexually), but when unable to hold on to Rapist Boyfriend in their relationship, she turns the table on him and accuses him of rape.

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Sung-chan visits the Myung-ha’s psychiatrist, in a bid to learn the reason behind why Team Leader Oh chooses to adopt Myung-ha. However, instead of getting an answer, Psychiatrist turns the table on Sung-chan, and questions his intent for digging into the case. She guesses he wants to help Myung-ha, though he vehemently disagrees, claiming it’s “all to solve the Piper’s cases”. However, when Sung-chan hears that Myung-ha is a witness at the trial of Suicide Lady — and things are NOT looking good — he turns up at the courtroom, and demands to be added in as a second witness.

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Defense Lawyer is fairly pissed with the Judge’s decision to let in Sung-chan, and tries to belittle him by telling the courtroom that there is “no case” at all. Using a moving glass bottle and a pencil as a metaphor, he claims that if Suicide Lady had “resisted enough”, Rapist Boyfriend can’t possibly rape her. Sung-chan coolly smiles and takes over the glass bottle…and smashes it on the ground. Picking up the unbroken bottle neck, he rams the pencil right into the bottle…declaring this is “how a pencil can insert itself into a ‘moving’ bottle”. He taunts Rapist Boyfriend to step up, and pushes him in front of Suicide Lady. The jury registers her immediate fear as she cowers in Rapist Boyfriend’s face. Summing up, Sung-chan questions if Suicide Lady is really as “vindictive” as Defense Lawyer paints her out to be, she will not be exhibiting such behavior.

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Although Suicide Lady isn’t let off the hook completely, her sentence for culpable homicide is reduced from 8 years to 1. Myung-ha is fairly comforted with the jury’s decision, and decides to finally talk to Sung-chan. He shows her the files and video of the Underground’s timer. Myung-ha recognizes the number 3125 as the date which her parents died as well (Year 2003, Dec 5), and the exploding buildings as the apartment which K Group blew up and which was razed by the fire in the ensuing riot.

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Returning back to HQ, Sung-chan and Myung-ha persuade Sung-bum to hack into Anonymous’ IP. He agrees, reluctantly, and says they will be able to trace the IP if Anonymous/ Underground’s owner logins again. A few hours later, they get a ping. One of the target has logged into Underground.

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On another front, Chairman Seo’s young son (sorry, i said “grandson” last week) receives a  sms, and tells his driver to stop by the road, as he has something to do. Sung-chan and Myung-ha, who are trailing the IP are surprised to see Chairman Seo’s son (Joon) at the location.

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But what is even more surprising is…Hee-sung shows up. He identifies himself as the sender of the sms to Joon.

Review:

Hehhh???? So do I need to re-apologise, as it seems that Hee-sung is now a probable Piper as well? Or maybe I should stop guessing and double guessing and juz enjoy the ride which Piper has been taking us.

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Previous eps have already drawn a differentiation between how Myung-ha and Sung-chan operates. Earlier on, it seems that Sung-chan is reasonable in extolling that negotiators should set aside their emotions during a negotiation. However, the telling hints that Sung-chan is using his negotiator skills as a defense mechanism become clearer in eps5/6. He does care. He juz chooses to hide his concern under a thick veneer of analytic logic, preferring to look in on a crisis from a third party’s pov. Well and good for achieving an objective — especially when he works for Chairman Seo, where it is preferable not to dwell on the ethical implications of said objective. However, that makes Sung-chan almost robotic, and inhuman, in some ways. His ex-girlfriend has pointed out to him that he wears a mask, even on “off-days” when he talks to people he presumably loves.

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On the other hand, Myung-ha wears her heart on her sleeves. While this drains her emotionally post-negotiations, her target(s) actually recognizes that she DOES care. And thus far, Piper’s “terrorists” (and those non-related to Piper) are normal, human beings driven to rash acts out of desperation…which means, they aren’t psychos. Having another human being who empathises with what they are going through or had gone through is a great deterrence to prevent them from committing further regrettable, heinous crimes. So while Myung-ha is dejected that her “help” doesn’t always turn out the way she wants/ or is eventually appreciated, I think she is a little too hard on herself. Her methods do work, and may even have less repercussions than Sung-chan’s. (Sung-chan, too, recognizes her value)

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While Sung-chan and Myung-ha are the obvious allied pair, Hee-sung in eps5/6 has also proven himself to be a worthy ally to Sung-chan. The two are actually pretty similar. Both are not “evil”, but both are not above closing an eye to things in order to better their own positions.  And the two of them actually operate on the same mental wavelength, feeding off each other’s ideas. However, I get the sense that both of them can easily cut the other off when needed. It’s like pairing two predators together — the union is probably going to be temporary, as long as their ultimate goal is the same.

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