Open Thread: Signal Episodes 3 & 4

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Show continues to make my brain – and my heart – jump through all kinds of hoops, which is why I thought this shot of Hae Young would be the perfect one, to headline our post today. 😁

SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:

1. We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.

We don’t want to spoil anyone’s watch experience with spoilers. The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD. ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).

This includes, but is not limited to, how characters &/or relationships develop, later in the show.

We need to protect the innocent! 😉

2. HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 3

Poor Hae Young. Watching him trying to wrap his brain around this magical walkie-talkie connection to the past, is basically like watching his head explode.

While we as an audience have been clued in for some time now, that Hae Young really is connected to the past via that walkie-talkie, but this is news to him, and in a logical, non-magical world, it makes sense that Hae Young struggles so much, to accept the possibility that he is connected to the past, and is actually having a direct influence on the murder cases themselves.

I wonder if the reason why he’s the only person who is able to retain the memory of the version of history, prior to the changes that happen, is because all those changes originate from him..?

I mean, there’s no other distinctive feature that we know of (that I can think of), that sets him apart from everyone else, that would accord him the privilege of retaining the original memories. Hrmm.

The way we see Hae Young’s investigations in the present timeline intersect with what’s going on in the 1989 timeline, really is quite exciting.

Hae Young only has those few minutes each time the connection opens up, and there’s only so much that he and Jae Han can say to each other, in that short period of time.

And that’s not yet taking into the account the fact that both Hae Young and Jae Han find it hard to believe that the other person is from another timeline, and therefore inevitably spend time trying to establish that as well.

What an unfortunate turn of events, that in chasing down the killer, Jae Han accidentally nabs the wrong guy – who ends up dying of a seizure while in custody. That’s horrible for everyone – but especially for that guy, who was just doing his best to catch his bus. 😭

Even more unfortunate, is that even though Hae Young manages to tell Jae Han that the guy he’s apprehended is innocent, and even manages to give Jae Han details of the next murder victim, Jae Han doesn’t actually have enough time, to prevent that murder from happening.

Ack. It’s probably even worse, to know that it was going to happen, and then not be able to do anything with that information.

And, how hard it is for Hae Young, to have the connection cut off, and then have no other choice but to wait and see whether the information on the whiteboard changes, as a result of that communication.

However, little silver linings – like realizing that Jae Han’s intervention had made it possible for the would-be victim’s daughter to be born – do provide some encouragement to Hae Young. At least this way, he knows that something positive has already come out of his magical connection to the past.

Plus, there’s the thing that Soo Hyun says, that it’s better to try something, even if it means making a mess. I think that provides at least some sense of affirmation for Hae Young as well.

I wonder at the detail that the would-be victim had tried to thank Jae Han, but he’d declined to see her. Why is that, I wonder?

It makes sense, but is still intriguing to me, that with Jae Han’s run-in with the killer, all the details around the other murders change as well.

I like Hae Young’s theory, that the killer had to change tactics because of what happened, and that he decided that he needed to kill the other passengers on the bus, in order to guarantee his anonymity.

How odd, then, that the bus driver says that no one had boarded the bus at that bus-stop that day. Is the bus driver perhaps protecting the killer because it’s someone he knows, that he believes would never kill someone else?

Or had the killer managed to sneak onto the bus via the back door, perhaps?

And, what an interesting nugget of information, that all the murders actually occur along the same bus route. Could the killer have something to do with that particular bus? Be a regular passenger, perhaps? Or an employee of the bus company, even?

Also, I hadn’t anticipated that after all these years, another murder would occur, and using such uncannily similar methods, to boot.

We still don’t know if this is the same killer, or just a copycat killer, but it definitely amps up the tension, that this is arguably now technically no longer a cold case.

Hae Young’s sense of personal accountability, for the latest murder – that it happened because of his actions – is a heavy burden to carry. It’s no wonder he desperately wants to prevent the murders from happening in the past, since that would automatically prevent the murder in the present.

The emotional burden is even heavier on Jae Han, since the last murder victim in the 1989 timeline, is none other than Won Kyung, the girl on whom he has a massive crush. Yikes.

To make things worse, Jae Han’s in lock-up, because his colleagues find his presence at the train tracks highly suspicious. Gah. There couldn’t be a worse time for Jae Han to be in lock-up, honestly.

I can see why he would resort to breaking out of there, to try to save Won Kyung. This is his only chance, after all.

Gah. The tension is practically killing me. I need to know whether Jae Han manages to save Won Kyung!

(Please let the answer be yes!! 🙈)

Episode 4

Oof. This works out to be an episode with even more emotional heft than the other episodes that came before.

Part of it is definitely Lee Jae Han’s personal connection with Won Kyung. That makes all of his efforts to stop the murder, and all of the parallel efforts in the present timeline, to find the murderer, feel so much more urgent and poignant.

While I’ve willed each murder attempt in past episodes to be unsuccessful, I willed it even harder, as I watched Lee Jae Han run desperately through that neighborhood, trying to find Won Kyung, to hopefully save her.

The desperation in his eyes is unmistakable, and my heart really went out to him – even as it raced with adrenaline, at the same time, to keep up with Show’s plot developments.

In the present timeline, there’s an emotional element too, from the fact that our cold case squad is working against time, to beat their colleagues from Gyeonggi, in favor of whom they were instructed to drop the Jung Kyung Soon murder case.

Because of how unfair that whole thing is, and also, because of how dismissive and almost snide the guys from the Gyeonggi division are, I reallyreally want our cold case squad to beat the Gyeonggi guys, in their investigation.

How very shocking, really, that Soo Hyun gets attacked at the nursing facility, by Lee Chun Goo’s son, Lee Jin Hyung, who’s supposed to be an invalid. I somehow hadn’t expected an invalid to have that kind of strength, to be able to attack and strangle Soo Hyun like that. 😳

That also really got my adrenaline pumping, as I balanced precariously on the edge of my seat.

I mean, I knew that Soo Hyun would be ok, because she’s a main character in our story, and this is only episode 4, which dictates that she has to survive this, and yet, Show had me breathlessly nervous about Soo Hyun’s wellbeing, even as I wondered how this invalid was so strong, and how Soo Hyun would get out of his death grip.

On that note, I’m actually vicariously chuffed for Soo Hyun, that she gets out of his death grip on her own, before Hae Young and Gye Chul arrive. She’s such a badass. 🤩

I feel so terrible for Lee Jae Han, who not only fails to save Won Kyung, but ends up discovering her dead body. I can only imagine how horrible this must be for him. It’s no wonder he kind of loses himself for a bit, and goes a little crazy at points, this episode.

Honestly, who can blame him? He’d been tipped off about Won Kyung’s life being in danger, with specific details, of the time and location of her expected murder, and yet, he’d been unable to stop her from being killed.

How helpless, frustrated and heartbroken he must feel. And, I imagine that on top of all that, he must be wracked with guilt, for failing to protect her. Poor Jae Han. 😭💔

I like how Hae Young manages to deduce that Jung Kyung Soon had been blackmailing Lee Chun Goo over the years, and therefore actually had solid evidence in her possession, in order to be able to do that. Ahhh. That makes so much sense!

I’m SO relieved and SO gratified, that Soo Hyun manages to get to that press conference in time, with the DNA result, showing that Lee Jin Hyung’s DNA was found on the taser, which Won Kyung had used to defend herself.

Not gonna lie; it felt pretty great, to have Superintendent Kim hand the stage to Soo Hyun, because that’s a direct acknowledgment of the cold case squad’s legitimacy in the investigation of the case. Take that, you rude dudes from the Gyeonggi division! 😜

It’s a pretty emotional, messed-up reveal, that Lee Jae Han had had that face-off with Lee Jin Hyung, and had chosen to let go of Lee Jin Hyung, after Lee Jin Hyung had given him that inexplicably smug look.

Even though you could say that it was morally wrong of Lee Jae Han to drop Lee Jin Hyung on purpose, it’s also true, that if Lee Jin Hyung hadn’t been paralyzed from that fall, he would likely have gone on to kill other innocent people.

Wouldn’t that make Lee Jae Han more of a hero than a villain, in preventing him from killing others? And yet, it’s still true, that Lee Jae Han shouldn’t have taken the law into his own hands.

While I understand that Lee Chun Goo had felt sorry for his son, for having grown up without his mother, his stubborn shielding of him, and his equally stubborn refusal to admit that his son did anything wrong, is so messed up.

The way he blames the re-investigation of the case – without which, everyone could have gone on happily with their lives – is just as messed up.

I’m glad that Hae Young poses that question to him, that if Lee Jae Han had killed his son that day, would he have been able to forget, or live happily, ever?

The strong sense of empathy for all the victims forms part of this episode’s emotional punch; at the same time, there’s also another part of it, which is the emotional toll that these murders take, on the investigating officers.

That conversation between Soo Hyun and Hae Young, where she advises him to find a way to cope, because seeing dead bodies never gets easier, turns out to be even more poignant than I’d first imagined.

On Soo Hyun’s part, that flashback, to how Jae Han had been kind to her, when she’d first cried after seeing a dead body, is so heartachey, because as far as we know, right now, in 2015, Jae Han is dead. 😭

And on Hae Young’s part, that memory of how his brother had been wrongly convicted of rape, and had then killed himself – only for Hae Young to find his bloody body, is so painful as well.

I find my heart going out to them both, as they continue to press on to solve murders, to give closure to victims’ families, despite the personal pain that it brings them.

And then, there’s the backstory that Show eventually gives us, via Won Kyung’s aunt, that Won Kyung had actually returned Jae Han’s feelings very earnestly, and had even bought movie tickets, so that they could go on a movie date together.

I’m glad that Hae Young gets to tell Jae Han that the murderer’s been caught, and that the definitive evidence had actually been provided by Jae Han himself, in his gift to Won Kyung.

It’s so, so sad, when Jae Han asks what the evidence is, and Hae Young tells him that it’s not possible with the technology of the time.

However, it’s really so compassionate of Hae Young, to say that Jae Han is the one who caught the murderer. I feel that this should give Jae Han at least a small measure of consolation.

Augh. That scene of Jae Han watching the movie, and crying his heart out, while everyone else around him laughs at the movie’s funny scenes, is so heartbreaking.

The fact that Won Kyung had liked him back should bring him some comfort, I suppose, but in a way, it also feels so much worse, because this means that if Won Kyung hadn’t been murdered, they could have had a happy life together. 😭💔

Sob. There’s so much personal pain for our characters, isn’t there? I find myself feeling quite a bit, for our wounded heroes, who continue to keep on keeping on, in spite of the personal struggles that they face.

Right now, I really do wish I could reach into my screens, and just give them a big ol’ hug each, and tell them that they’ve worked hard.

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Natalia
Natalia
3 months ago

Episodes 3 and 4 were an emotional roller-coaster. Of course, the main idea (the magic walkie-talkie) doesn’t make sense and there are some oblique points in the script , but I have chosen to roll with them.
Also, I haven’t watched the actor playing Lee Jae Han before, but he’s just great.

manukajoe
manukajoe
3 months ago

I feel like Ep 3 isn’t as tight as 1 and 2. Some stuff seems a bit contrived.

Ah I feel like the show is teasing us. Close up shots of the data expert in the cold case team, the bus driving away as Lee Jae-han arrests the murdered. The latter proved to be meaningful, maybe also the former?

In Ep4 why doesn’t Park Hae-young (another Hae-young!) just tell Jae-han who the killer is? So frustrating. You only have the walkie-talkie for a minute, use it!! Turns out it didn’t matter.

That’s three sudden lane changes by the police.

How can the father possibly run that fast?

Ah so it’s going to be like a kind of Criminal Minds show?

So the police didn’t manage to figure out that all the victims took the same bus? It seems rather obvious.

So who tied the knot on the final victim’s body? If the original killer was stuck in bed?

But I feel like there’s potential for the past to change a lot.

Kun
Kun
3 months ago

Man my eyes just tear up thinking about this scene. I love Jae Han so much and seeing him so heartbroken was tragic 😭