Piper is heating up, especially in the “Guess-the-Piper” game…
Shocked to find Hee-sung meeting with Joon, Myung-ha is all for confronting them, but is pulled back by Sung-chan. And luckily too. Joon pops a question to Hee-sung, asking him about the relevance of 3125, and Hee-sung gives him a blank stare. Annoyed, Joon writes Hee-sung off as non-Piper, explaining that Piper would know the significance of the numbers. Joon and Hee-sung part ways.
Sung-chan tails after Hee-sung, after instructing Myung-ha to do the same to Joon. Myung-ha catches up to Joon in no time, and confronts him with the info that she knows he owns Underground. Joon explains wearily that he knows what his dad is up to, and although he is powerless to stop him, he will not stand by allowing him to continue to abuse the innocent for his “businesses”. Hence, Underground was set up to allow the commoners to air their grievances from being bullied by corporations/ govt. He also tells Myung-ha that he doesn’t think Hee-sung is Piper.
Meanwhile, Sung-chan blocks Hee-sung’s exit from the carpark, and questions the purpose for him meeting Joon. Hee-sung explains that he has been “hired” by Director Kang to dig out the copies of the dirty info which TNN CEO has, and meeting Joon (whom he only knows as Underground’s admin) is the first step to his investigation. He also insists he isn’t Piper, since Joon didn’t even talk to him after asking him about the “3125”.
Suspecting that Team Leader Oh should have made contact with the Piper before his death (hence the interest in the recorder pen), Sung-chan drops by Myung-ha/ Team Leader Oh’s house to look for clues. In his cupboard, Sung-chan discovers a badly burnt Pied Piper storybook, mailed by an anonymous sender. Myung-ha remembers the book as the one she was holding on to during the fire incident. This kinda seals the identity of Piper as someone related to the fire + riot that claimed Myung-ha’s family.
On his way back home, Sung-chan bumps into a Senator Joo, and he exchanges some snarky comments with him. Senator Joo says he plans to help Snr Reporter clear his name, as he believe he isn’t the Piper. Sung-chan only comments that “as usual”, he likes to “pretend to be noble”. We learn that Senator Joo is actually Sung-chan’s dad…
Back in HQ the next day, Team Leader Kong is annoyed that Sung-chan + Myung-ha had been investigating the Piper on their own. Sung-chan explains that it’s cos he fears there’s a spy within the police force, but Team Leader Kong claims everyone here is either indebted to the late Team Leader Oh or like him, has already stepped on too many toes to be used as a spy. Sung-chan and Myung-ha agree to share info with them. Unknown to the team, there is a spy within them — Jae-hee, who reports what he learns immediately to the Police Comm.
Concentrating on the deceased’s namelist from the fire incident in 2003, the team narrows down a possible list of suspects who may hold a grudge against K Group/ the police’s inhumane treatment of the rioters. Besides Myung-ha’s parents, there are another 2 people who supposedly died in the fire/explosion — one of them is a young man by the name of Shin Gyung-man. Gyung-man’s body was reportedly burnt beyond recognition, and the identification was done based on the personal items found on/near the body. Gyung-man’s father survived the fire, but was later so traumatised by the incident that he resorted to drinking. After some years, his alcoholism caused him to have a stroke, and he is residing in a private hospice at the moment.
Another suspect is a young teenager, who lost his only kin in the fire. Team Leader Kong and Jae-hee drop by the last known place which the teen frequented before he “disappeared”. It’s a wrestling centre. The coach remembers the young boy, calling him as having loads of potential, before the incident happened. He recalls the boy (now grown up) returning to the centre, to ask to borrow money a few years back. Wrestler Guy now spends most of his time in internet cafes.
Which is where the team manages to track him down. Seeing that people are after him, Wrestler Guy flees. He is surrounded not long by the team and pinned down. Scared, he digs into his pocket, only to fling dollar notes (instead of a knife) at the team. Wrestler Guy (who is up to his neck in debts) claims he no longer goes for practices, after the fire gave him a bad injury to his knee (he has the scar to prove it). He also says he has no energy to seek revenge, having to live hand to mouth everyday.
Since Wrestler Guy is no longer a viable lead, the team turns to Ahjusshi Shin. They pester the forensics to confirm whether the body found during the fire really belongs to his son. And in order to get DNA for comparison, Sung-chan and Myung-ha visit the hospice where Ahjusshi Shin is now ensconced. They find him in a vegetative state, and the nurse informs them he can only respond by blinking. Sung-chan immediately goes straight in to ask Ahjusshi Shin if he is sure the body identified belongs to his son. Ahjusshi Shin gets agitated by the question, but his gaze at the TV is not lost on Sung-chan. The nurse refuses to tell them who is the sponsor who is providing for Ahjusshi Shin’s stay at the private hospice, and shoos them out.
On the way out, Sung-chan tells Myung-ha to return to HQ first, claiming he left his mobile in the ward. He sneaks in to Ahjusshi Shin’s room, and turns on the TV. It begins to show TNN’s evening news…and Hee-sung as anchor. Suspicious, he unplugs Ahjusshi Shin’s vital monitor, and the machines begin to wail. Panicking, the nurses troop in, and one of them makes a call to the sponsor to inform him of Ahjusshi Shin’s condition. Sung-chan boycotts the call…and hears Hee-sung on the other line.
Sung-chan, who has earlier learnt that the reporter covering the fire + riot was also Hee-sung (then a rookie), demands to know why he has been in touch with one of the victims. Hee-sung claims that Ahjusshi Shin is juz “one of the many” he sponsored, feeling bad that the story was eventually buried due to K Group’s pressure.
Unsatisfied with his explanations, Sung-chan decides to pursue the issue and makes his way down to TNN, where Hee-sung is continuing his evening news segment. There’s a special segment tonight — Senator Joo is releasing a biography, and is interviewed by Hee-sung’s hoobae, Bo-ram. Unknown to all of them, a masked man slips into the catwalk facing the interview venue, and he sets up a long range telescopic rifle…
Halfway through the interview, the gun man fires the rifle, blowing the book out of Bo-ram’s hand. Pandemonium ensues, as everyone scuttles to take cover. Gun Man makes a call to the TV station, and asks to be placed on air. He demands that Hee-sung reveals all of TNN’s secrets on air — if not, Bo-ram dies. And the laser of the rifle zeroes in on her forehead.
By now, the Negotiation Team cum SWAT have arrived on scene. Sung-chan borrows a headset from the production crew, to cue Hee-sung on what to say to Gun Man. Myung-ha, meanwhile, catches a fainting Bo-ram, whose legs begin to give way under the pressure. The laser spotlights on Myung-ha instead. Furious, she screams at the Gun Man, and says she knows he is involved in the 2003 fire, and like her, is a victim. She questions why he is using innocent people to further his means, and tells him to stop.
Of course, that has zero effect. Hee-sung starts to air the dirty linen as instructed — about a case where TNN chose not to publish a case of sexual assault by a hospital director…but Gun Man isn’t pleased. He says it’s not “juicy” enough. Over the headset, Sung-chan gives Hee-sung permission to use his story — the one where he admitted to having to sacrifice 1 of the 5 hostages in the Philippines kidnapping. TNN CEO rushes from his office after he hears this and tries to order the crew to get Hee-sung off-air. When nobody pays him any heed, he runs to the control station, and turns off the electrical supply.
Which is exactly what Gun Man wants. Although Myung-ha and Bo-ram are saved, the cut in electrical supply also causes the security system to go into downtime. Gun Man makes his way to TNN’s servers and hooks up a laptop to download all their backup copies of media files. He also leaves a time bomb in the server room.
Joon — who has earlier received Anonymous’ instructions to re-start the timer, looks at the news in concern. He notes his dad’s anger at TNN CEO’s “inept” service recovery, and picks up a call from Sung-chan. He admits that he had restarted the timer only on Anonymous’ order, but knows nothing else. Suspecting that Piper (or Gun Man) is after the backup files, Sung-chan alerts SWAT team leader Han, who immediately makes a trip down to the server room…and discovers the laptop + the bomb.
Team Leader Han orders his men out and decides to deactivate the bomb himself. Calling his wife as the last resort, he asks her what color she likes — and she picks red. So between the remaining yellow and red wire, Team Leader Han cuts off the red…the bomb stops. But the download also completes. Which leads to a deluge of leaked media info online, which netizens and other news stations gleefully pick up.
Sung-chan moves around TNN building, trying to spot Gun Man/ Piper. He finally sees Gun Man, pretending to make himself inconspicuous by mixing in with the other office staff who are evacuated due to the bomb threat. Gun Man turns out to be Wrestler Guy. Chasing him to a deserted corridor, Sung-chan confronts him. Wrestler Guy sneers that Sung-chan is juz a lackey for K Group, and has no sympathies for those who are affected by his “successful negotiation”. He tries to leave, but is held back by Sung-chan. Annoyed, Wrestler Guy beats Sung-chan into pulp, before making his escape.
Although the bomb threat is gone, the collateral damage to TNN is huge…as rival news stations and netizens condemn TNN as a “dog” to the rich and powerful. Battered and bruised, Sung-chan downs his frustration with alcohol, only to be identified by one of the restaurant’s patrons as “the Joo Sung-chan” who was mentioned by Hee-sung earlier. He sneers at Sung-chan, and calls him a coward. Sung-chan in return poses him a question: if he is a train driver and has to choose between knocking down 5 repairman or 1 elderly man on the railroad track, who would he choose. The inebriated patron shouts at Sung-chan, accusing him of “avoiding responsibilities”.
Returning to HQ, Sung-chan learns that one of the leaked info is Team Leader Oh’s recorder message. It appears that Team Leader Oh had gone to TNN in the hope that they will reveal the “secret”…only to have the message buried for good. Myung-ha and Sung-chan listen to the recording. It’s a conversation between Police Comm (then Team Leader Oh’s SWAT leader and good friend) and Team Leader Oh. In their conversation, Police Comm pleads with Team Leader Oh to juz “follow” K Group’s instructions to take down the rioters by force, as K Group Chairman has some dirty secrets on him. Team Leader Oh is at first against the idea, but eventually caves in after his friend’s pleading.
Myung-ha is shocked to learn that Team Leader Oh (her foster dad) is privy to, and part of the decision makers in the 2003 incident. In a flashback, see a young Myung-ha being told to hide under some makeshift cubby hole with her Pied Piper book, while her parents try to stave off the incoming police force. They fail, and during the scuffle, someone knocks off a flaming Molotov and sets the entire rooftop ablaze (since it is rigged with gas canisters and kerosene). Myung-ha’s parents manage to drag Myung-ha to safety, but they got trapped in the flames. Team Leader Oh, who spotted Myung-ha, pulled her away from the blaze. Months later, he adopted Myung-ha from Psychiatrist, when he was informed that she’d be placed in an orphanage if no relatives come forward to claim her.
Police Comm also had to deal with the leaked recorder message. The next day, he calls for a press con, and tells Chairman Seo that he will “reveal all”. Chairman Seo is livid, and tells Director Kang to release info about a Lady L. So moments before the press con, the reporters get another juicy news. Police Comm is known to have a habit of paying for sex — and one of the women who “served” him, appears to be rather famous now. Jae-hee, when he learns about this, is angry. He tells Police Comm he agreed to play spy only because he trusted him. Police Comm calmly tells him that he will be able to ride out the storm, and tells Jae-hee to be on his team, if he wants to be promoted.
Myung-ha, who is still reeling from the shock of hearing her foster dad’s involvement in the riot, staggers home drunk after a dinner. Sung-chan accompanies her, and asks if she needs to talk about it. Myung-ha declines his offer, but unknown to her, Wrestler Guy has tailed her to her apartment…and he silently watches as she pushes in the PIN for her door’s security. Meanwhile, Hee-sung visits Ahjusshi Shin in the hospice. Pushing open the door, he greets Ahjusshi Shin as…”Dad”.
So then, is Hee-sung the Piper? I don’t think it’s Wrestler Guy for sure; he is likely juz a fleeting character in Piper, another one made use of by the real Piper. During the team’s investigation, they had asked a profiler to profile the Piper. Ironically, the characteristics — being calm under stress, a great influencer, male, likely in his late 30s — match Sung-chan. Sung-chan had rebutted that Hee-sung also meets the requirements. Which kinda nails Hee-sung as Piper candidate.
…and makes Hee-sung rather formidable. Since every time Sung-chan (or us) catches him out on a lie, he manages to excuse it away very, very logically. So much so that you go, “nah, too obvious…can’t be him”. Only to have Piper throw u back into the same is-he-is-he-not dilemma when they reveal another fishy aspect of Hee-sung’s character. And if Hee-sung is the Piper, he’d have achieve his twin goals in revealing K Group’s deep, dark secrets in ep8, plus maneuvering himself to a very advantageous position in TNN. Chairman Seo had TNN CEO replaced, and Hee-sung take over the empty seat. If so, Chairman Seo has no idea what shit he has juz gotten himself into, by giving Piper an extraordinary amount of power, and also proximity to himself.