Open Thread: Stranger Episodes 9 & 10

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Is it weird that this scene is almost as thrilling to me, as an actual love confession? This confession of trust was THE highlight of my watch, this set of episodes. 😍

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 9

Ooh, what a tangled web we weave; everything seems to get clearer and muddier, at the same time, this episode.

First of all, I have to wonder what the Chief Prosecutor’s plan is, with him submitting his resignation and all. Given how much he’s wanted this position for such a long time, I don’t believe that he’s sincerely resigning in order to take responsibility for the corruption at Seoul Western Prosecutor’s Office, like he says it is. I can only guess that the Section Chief is right about the Chief Prosecutor extricating himself from a tricky situation, and I’m thinking that once he finds the coast clear enough, he has some plans up his sleeve, to get the Chief Prosecutor position back.

The other thing is, it’s quite a change, to see Shi Mok being given the power to investigate all his colleagues, where before it seems that he was being prevented from doing so. And how sneaky-clever-shrewd of him, to include people on his team, whom he wants to keep an eye on. That’s rather counter-intuitive to most people, I think. I feel like most people would only choose to populate their team with people whom they feel they can trust. But this is where we are reminded all over again, that Shi Mok isn’t most people.

I can’t tell you how pleased I am, that Shi Mok officially requests that Yeo Jin be assigned to his team. Ahhh!!! How cool, that Shi Mok and Yeo Jin will now be working together, officially. Somehow, it gives me a lot of satisfaction, that now no one will be able to make quizzical expressions at the sight of Shi Mok and Yeo Jin together.

I’m not sure what to think of the way Chief Prosecutor is suddenly getting all chummy with Shi Mok, in front of other people. The way he reaches out to personally adjust Shi Mok’s tie seems like such a power move, like he’s indicating to Shi Mok that he could kill Shi Mok, if he wanted to. At the same time, the way Chief Prosecutor goes about it, it doesn’t feel like a threat. Or.. could that be the highest order of threat, where it is a threat, but looks, smells and feels like affection..?

I’m extremely intrigued by the fact that the Chief Prosecutor invites Shi Mok and the rest of the team to dinner, at his home. In fact, judging by the dynamic in the room, it feels like this was an initiative by Mrs. Chief Prosecutor. Why would she be so interested in Shi Mok and his team, I wonder? Was this an effort by her to.. get them on their side?

Also, in the almost-dinner scene, we get the strongest hints so far, of Mrs. Chief Prosecutor’s menacing streak. Ack. The tension in the air is so thick, it feels like you could cut it with a knife. Everyone’s so stiff and awkward, while Mrs. Chief Prosecutor makes all these pleasant but hollow conversational overtures. Just, what is she trying to do, asking questions like who among them has children..?

The fact that Yeo Jin, who’s our natural empath, chooses to be so blunt in the face of Mrs. Chief Prosecutor’s fake niceness, is very interesting to me. This makes me feel that she’s quick to pick up on fake niceness, and isn’t afraid, even in the face of power. Of course, it can be argued that these people don’t have any direct power in her life, but still. I can’t help feeling a bit thrilled at Yeo Jin’s take-no-nonsense sort of approach.

There’s also a part of me that wonders whether Yeo Jin’s retort at Mrs. Chief Prosecutor was a personal reaction, in response to Mrs. Chief Prosecutor offering to set up Shi Mok with a beautiful girl. I don’t think Yeo Jin’s romantically attracted to Shi Mok, but I do think it’s possible that she feels protective of him. And, Mrs. Chief Prosecutor does come across as some kind of predator..?

The way Chairman Lee tests Shi Mok with that strong handshake, seems unnecessary, but I suppose it’s only unnecessary to our eyes because we already know what Shi Mok’s about, and we know that he doesn’t play this power game. Chairman Lee doesn’t know that, however, and therefore, I suppose it makes sense that he uses methods that he’s used to, to see what Shi Mok’s made of.

I’m glad that Shi Mok makes a stand and gets his team out of that extremely uncomfortable situation. Even though he ends up upsetting Mrs. Chief Prosecutor, I feel that he did the right thing. He’s showing that he and his team can’t be bribed or intimidated, and that they are going to be all business about this, even when under pressure. I like that, and I also enjoy the fact that Mrs. Chief Prosecutor is so peeved.

Like Yeo Jin, I must be feeling protective towards Shi Mok as well, because when Shi Mok wakes up to find Prosecutor Young handling papers in his office, he orders her to leave, even though she clearly wants to stay. I’m also pleased that when she asks to join his team, he flatly refuses. I like how clear Shi Mok is, about this. He’s not giving Prosecutor Young any false hopes, whether it’s professionally or personally, and I find that really very decent of him, actually.

It’s clear that Prosecutor Young has a personal agenda. On what looks like the romantic front, she’s bringing Shi Mok his sweater, and an additional one that looks like a gift. And on the revenge front (or so it seems), she snoops among his papers when the opportunity presents itself. I wouldn’t want to trust her either, in Shi Mok’s shoes.

But HAHA, at the pointed, curious look that Yeo Jin gives Shi Mok, as she clocks the whole sweater situation with Prosecutor Young.

I’m glad that we get some confirmation, that Chief Clerk Kim and Section Head Yoon can be trusted after all, despite the suspicious circumstances that had led Shi Mok to include them in his team. It feels good, to feel like there are at least several trustworthy people working to support Shi Mok.

It’s pretty great to see the team successfully take Prosecutor Seo down, in spite of his sneaky attempts to hide the evidence. I love the stealth approach, of finding and photographing the incriminating evidence, then putting it back where they found it, so that Prosecutor Seo’s still smug in the belief that he’s managed to outsmart the team.

I have to admit to feeling extremely gratified, at the sight of Prosecutor Seo’s shocked expression, when he realizes that he’s been had.

But of course, Prosecutor Seo has more tricks up his sleeves, because how could he have made it this far, if he wasn’t this wily, right? The way he gets Chief Clerk Kim to allow him to take the stairs, then fakes a fall which lands him in hospital, then sneaks off from the hospital while Chief Clerk Kim’s nodding off, is just the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from him. He wouldn’t be Prosecutor Seo, if he didn’t put up a bug-eyed fight to the very end.

I’m very intrigued by the scene where Young Il Jae pays Chief Prosecutor a visit. I am very confused as to why Young Il Jae doesn’t want Shi Mok to reveal the truth. Isn’t he a victim of these corrupt people, and wouldn’t he benefit, if the corruption is revealed, and his reputation restored? Why is he so adamant about not revealing the truth, I have to wonder? What or who is he protecting, &/or what does he have to hide..?

Arguably my favorite scene this set of episodes, is the scene where Yeo Jin asks Shi Mok about what’s really going on, and he levels with her, so plainly. It’s so great that he trusts her implicitly, and is so open with her about why he’s keeping certain information close to the vest, and the people on the team who now seem like can be trusted.

I LOVE that beat, where Yeo Jin side-eyes Shi Mok and asks if he’s got someone else doing a background check on her, and Shi Mok tells her straight-up, that there’s no way, because it’s not necessary. Aw! I mean, I kind of already knew that he trusts her implicitly, but it’s still thrilling to have him confirm it like this! 🤩

What a way to end off the episode, with 1, an escaped Prosecutor Seo begging Chairman Lee to save him – and saying that there’s something the Chief Prosecutor hasn’t told Chairman Lee yet, and 2, Kim Ga Young regaining consciousness. I wonder what Prosecutor Seo have on the Chief Prosecutor, AND, I wonder what Ga Young can tell us, now that she’s awake?

Episode 10

It’s getting to the point where, aside from Shi Mok and Yeo Jin, I’m not really sure who we can trust, in our drama world. I find that those whom I trust, I now tend to trust quite tentatively – because they could turn around and disappoint us, around the next narrative corner. It’s a slightly unsettling sort of sensation, but I’m glad that at least Shi Mok and Yeo Jin are anchoring this thing in such a clear way.

I found it rather stressful, watching Yeo Jin working to move Ga Young out of the hospital, without letting Team Leader Choi know. It was also frustrating to watch important information – like original security footage – go to the dirty cops, who get away with it, because they are cops.

I mean, it makes sense that these innocent civilians just trying to do their jobs would trust a police officer who flashes his badge and say that he needs the security footage urgently, for an investigation. How are they supposed to know that they’re dealing with a dirty cop who’s trying to make sure that this footage doesn’t get into the right hands?

But it all just adds to how complicated things are, for Yeo Jin, as she tries to do her job, and how unsettling it is, to watch her encounter setbacks because she’s actively working against her colleagues.

I do very much appreciate Yeo Jin for her empathy and compassion towards those who need it most. Even though Yeo Jin has to work with these constraints and it’s anything but easy, her manner towards Ga Young and her mother is so gentle, and she is so assuring and kind, I just can’t help but love her more.

I also very much appreciate the way Yeo Jin and Shi Mok are on the same wavelength, to the extent that they simply have to exchange a Look, to confirm that they are thinking the same thing. I also find it gratifying to see that they understand each other so well, that Yeo Jin’s able to invite Shi Mok – in code! – for a private discussion, away from Team Leader Choi’s ears. These two are turning out to be so in sync with each other; I just want them to work together all the time now.

As for Prosecutor Young, she’s way too personally involved to be a safe choice in the investigation, clearly. She’s essentially poking her nose where it’s not wanted, even after Shi Mok’s told her not to do anything, and I can see how this would be frustrating for Shi Mok, especially since Prosecutor Young’s whole vibe is all melodramatic angst instead of efficient professionalism.

I’m still rather taken aback by the fact that Shi Mok loses his cool and raises his voice at Prosecutor Young. For Shi Mok, whose emotions operate on a much more muted scale than the rest of us, exactly what must it take, for him to be riled up to this extent?

It feels significant, that the thing that riles Shi Mok up, is Prosecutor Young’s continued assumption, that his investigation is for her and her family’s sake. Even though she’s thanking him, she’s essentially throwing shade on his professionalism, by insisting that it’s personal instead of professional.

I’m totally beginning to see why Prosecutor Seo’s nickname in the Stranger fandom is Weasel. He really is one, ha. The way he offers to be a mole for Chairman Lee, while leaking some choice information, to rile up Chairman Lee – before taking it all back, saying that he misspoke, is a Classic Weasel move, I feel like.

Because of this, I am extra suspicious of the Prosecutor Seo’s claim that he’s willing to pay for his crimes, and therefore is willing to give Shi Mok any information that he might need. Shi Mok is right in his assessment, I think; Prosecutor Seo is ultimately most concerned for his own survival, and will likely do whatever he deems will give him the best chance of it. Therefore, I’m also rather doubtful of the authenticity of the intel that Prosecutor Seo shares, this episode.

I’m uncertain of how to feel about Section Chief Kang. This episode, he comes across as surprisingly moral and upstanding, to the point that I actually felt comfortable to trust him, based on his conversation with Shi Mok. At the same time, I do wonder if we can consider him a true ally. After all, he keeps hedging on sharing certain pieces of information that he deems too important and delicate.

As for the investigation itself, I honestly don’t know what to think about how some of it is carried out. For example, it’s great that Shi Mok and company manage to get that recorded confession from Kim Tae Gyun, but.. is that recording really enough, that they don’t actually need him present for the investigation?

Also, I don’t get the thing, where, during the press conference, Shi Mok announces the findings of their investigations, before the outcome is finalized. I have no idea if this is how things are done in Korea, and I have no legal background to speak of. It just feels really weird to my eyes, that this should be announced to reporters, before Young Il Jae’s case is full dealt with, and also, before Chief Kim is even interrogated for his involvement with Ga Young.

Yeo Jin carries herself spectacularly well, in that interrogation of Chief Kim. She stays calm and unflustered, even when he tries to intimidate her by raising his voice, and she seems to have her every move well thought-out in advance, given the way she shuts him down, finally, by showing him the photos as evidence.

And then there’s the way she speaks to Chief Kim. She remains calm and respectful, and most surprising of all, she still has heartfelt words left, to say to him. Her request, that he confess to everything, so that she doesn’t have to release the photos, does sound earnestly of a sense of loyalty and community. Plus, her tears. Augh. 😭 I love Yeo Jin for honoring her emotional stake in this, even though she doesn’t have to.

I’m not sure what tricks Lee Yeon Jae (Mrs. Senior Presidential Secretary, just so we’re clear) will use against Yeo Jin, now that Yeo Jin’s come knocking on her door with questions, but I am quite certain that she will be a slippery one to pin down.

Another person I’m not sure of anymore, is Detective Jang. I’d trusted him because Shi Mok had appeared to trust him, but this episode, it’s implied that he stole a copy of the security footage, just as Chief Kim asks of him.

Of course, I have to wonder if this is just the team playing a long game, where they purposely leak the footage to Chief Kim, in order to get Lee Chang Joon (I give up trying to keep up with his ever-changing job titles, imma just call him by name now, ha 😅). That’s not impossible, and I’m hopeful that that’s the case, because I definitely want Shi Mok and Yeo Jin to stay one step ahead of all the sly foxes they’re up against.

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MC
MC
15 days ago

Not sure if anyone will see this but roll on Weds. I NEED to discuss what happened in ep 12!!!!

eda harris
eda harris
19 days ago

prosecutor lee announcing si mok to be the head of the new investigation. reactions: prosecutor seo: “what the hell!!!!!”, prosecutor young: “hmmm, interesting, where is that going and how can i jump into the new game?” indeed, a new game in town – and prosecutor lee’s left eyebrow is going up, slightly, but o so effective. (watch it, it is not the first time his only one eyebrow going up). his character seems to be the most interesting in this story, so far, and the most complex and layered, and you never know whether he really likes a certain prosecutor or hates him, is he going to help him or make him fail, or did he decide if you can not defeat him – join him, or just follow the old saying, keep you friends close but your enemies closer? does he really mean to quietly leave (the crime scene? the pending doom and gloom? or just let them “kill” each other and watch from the side lines?) somehow i do not see him disappear any time soon, he sure has something up his sleeve. but what ? meantime, good or bad, si mok gets the “kings hat” and with it power. YEEES! si mok – no reaction, no movement (damn, doesn’t it come handy sometimes to miss a part of your brain!?) – but straight to business: ” can i start right now?”. prosecutor seo’s reaction: “SHIT, SHIT, SHIT”.
the meeting abruptly ends – pesticide has been sprayed into the prosecutors’ nest. if you ever seen big ants scattering with the speed of light when poison hits their nest, that is how those prosecutors look in this scene. although i am still not able to develop emotions for this show, but at least i have to admit, i am starting to feel the “heat”.

Leslie
19 days ago

At the moment, of all the disreputable characters in the show, Lee Yeon Jae (Mrs. Senior Presidential Secretary, thank you, KFG) gives me the most chills. She appears to have inherited Dad’s sang froid, and has a cold burning flame in her heart, and the intent, to protect and maintain… well, I’m not sure exactly what or who right now. But something she will not let go of without a dangerous fight.😠 Don’t want to meet her in a dark alley – or even a dinner party.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
19 days ago
Reply to  Leslie

I have a slightly different view of her. She’s certainly not an admirable character, but I think she’s a bit more complex than she seems at first blush.

Perhaps the most intriguing puzzle in the show is the triangle between her, her father and her husband. She’s the daughter of an especially vile chaebol CEO, and is also married to a high-level prosecutor. So what is that about?

And unless I’m mistaken, the three of them all live in the same house!

Last edited 19 days ago by merij1
Leslie
19 days ago
Reply to  merij1

Interesting . I don’t think our perceptions of Ms. Lee are at odds. The daughter was floating around in my head as the prime candidate for the “someone” she wants to protect most, and for whom she’ll do anything. Though I haven’t sussed what the danger is/would be to the daughter. A mother’s love can be scary fierce (especially a Korean mom’s, it seems. 😉) This is a made- up theory, of course, because their story is at the earliest stages, so I hesitated to propose it. But it seems like we are thinking in a similar vein, or at least questioning in the same direction. By next episode my speculation might be all hogwash, ‘cuz Show seems to roll that way. 😊

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
19 days ago
Reply to  Leslie

Yes, re-reading your original comment, I no longer notice a disagreement between us.

These are the puzzles I love about this show!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
20 days ago

I feel like Shi Mok knows that Weasel Seo is playing both sides to try and stay out of trouble, but he wants to see if he can make use of Seo to get dirt on bigger fish! Ditto on Yeo Jin’s humanity combined with extreme professional competence. I would have been quacking in her shoes to have to confront my several ranks senior boss in an interrogation! The fact that she did so firmly yet with an appeal to his remaining sense of pride in the police service was very impressive. Not the straightforward hardball act I expected.

Kim
Kim
19 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I love how Si Mok is playing with Seo. I think I laughed out loud when Seo saw the photos of his stash being found.
I probably would also be quaking (I figured this is the word you intended to write, though I laughed at the visual of quacking in my shoes) in my shoes if I had to do what Yeo Jin did. I hold her in such high esteem.

manukajoe
manukajoe(@manukajoe)
20 days ago

Pretty nice pair of episodes!

Ep 9. I think Shi-mok is throwing Seo to Lee as a kind of red herring. 
It makes me happy to see all those Hyundai’s – my car is a Hyundai.
Wow the Ice Banquet was extremely chilly.
And the whiteboard reveal was amazing!

Ep 10 Is Lee’s daughter the one who died? Is that why his wife is cuckoo?

I reflect that, in this kind of show, the only kind of sex is illegal or immoral. Which tends to give the impression that sex is always illegal or immoral. It’s a pity it can’t be balanced by also showing some legal and moral romantic relationships.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
20 days ago
Reply to  manukajoe

No, Lee Chang Joon’s daughter is still alive. It is Prosecutor Yoon, the very quiet one who was digging up info on Shi Mok’s brain surgery earlier, who had a son who died in a traffic accident. This was briefly mentioned when the team was leaving the Ice Banquet and strolling on the road in episode 9.

manukajoe
manukajoe(@manukajoe)
20 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Thanks Elaine. I don’t remember that character!

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
20 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Yes, this is correct. He was the junior prosecutor doing research on Shi Mok for Section Chief Kang, who up till now seemed to be a not very likable internal affairs enforcer.

Last edited 20 days ago by merij1
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