Open Thread: Signal Episodes 7 & 8

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I’ve got Hae Young and Jae Han headlining our post today, because I’ve basically become rather desperate for them to continue their transmissions. Them working together across timelines has truly become one of my new favorite things.

SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:

ZERO SPOILER POLICY

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! 😉

SPOILER ZONE

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 7

This episode sure worked out to be a rollercoaster both for the heart and mind! Which are both great things, just in case that’s not clear. 😁

I freaking loved the beginning of this episode. Seeing Jae Han track down Han Se Gyu’s red car, and arrest Han Se Gyu’s driver / secretary dude, and then show up at the police station to show off the evidence with such a flourish, gave me such a thrill, I tell ya.

WHAT A MOMENT. 🤩🤩

I felt so proud of him, and so vindicated for him, at the same time. After everyone being so dismissive of his convictions, he’s proving that he was right all along, and – BAM! – here’s the irrefutable evidence you asked for, so stop telling me to shut up and keep my head down. YESS.

The way Show intersplices the scenes of Hae Young sleeping at his desk, with the scenes from the past, of Jae Han arresting Han Se Kyu, and Oh Kyung Tae being released from prison, gave me legit chills.

And then of course, there’s how Hae Young wakes up to find that everything’s changed. His tentative, tearful hope is so full of pathos, as he wonders if Soo Hyun is alive, for sure. Guh. His expression is so emotional, that it made me emotional too.

I can totally understand why he would go to Soo Hyun’s home, just to see with his own eyes, that she’s alive, and she’s back, and she’s fine. Aw.

But of course, as is Show’s nature, we see that not everything is peachy and perfect, despite Jae Han arresting Han Se Kyu. It sucks that he gets let off with such a light sentence, and it’s tragic that Oh Kyung Tae gets out of prison, only to kill Shin Dong Hoon, and go to prison for it.

His reason is the same in this timeline as in 2015, for killing Shin Dong Hoon. The only difference is, this time, he hasn’t planned something intricate and symbolic over a 20-year time period. He just ups and stabs the guy, for getting in the way of Eun Ji’s rescue.

I can see why Oh Kyung Tae would do that, though. His grief over Eun Ji’s tragic death is so strong, that he just feels the need to do something about it. Unless our characters manage to undo Eun Ji’s death, I don’t think there ever will be a timeline where Oh Kyung Tae doesn’t have vengeance against Shin Dong Hoon on his mind.

And, in Jae Han’s timeline, it sucks that Chief Kim gets transferred for “not controlling his subordinates well,” and slimey Kim Bum Joo takes his place – in order to keep the “order” of things.

Gosh, Kim Bum Joo’s been a corrupt cop for so many years?? Wow. Also, dang, the corruption is so systemic, and so deep. It makes me wonder just how bad it’s gotten, by 2015.

In the present, I do like the fact that Hae Young’s now so much more appreciative of Soo Hyun, that he shows more interest and concern than before. I feel like this might be an early indication, that their mutual understanding and regard for each other is going to grow into something stronger.

I’m certainly not shipping them in a romantic way, to be clear. I just really like the idea of them trusting each other, and valuing each other, as they work together, and I’m really looking forward to the point in our story when Soo Hyun becomes aware of the magical transmissions. Because that has to come, right? And it should be pretty soon, I think? Or, at least, I hope?

Coz this episode, Hae Young mentions the transmissions from the past to Soo Hyun again, in that hypothetical manner, and also, Team Leader Ahn confronts Soo Hyun with the information that Hae Young’s been asking about Jae Han, while also mentioning the sticker that she’d placed on Jae Han’s walkie-talkie.

She’s got some important pieces of information now; all we need is for her to have a reason to piece it together. Ahhh!! I really hope she gets to hear Jae Han’s voice on that walkie-talkie, since she’s been searching for him for so long. But ok, I’m probably getting ahead of myself here.

This episode, how curious, that the Shin Da Hye case in the present, actually links back to the Han Se Gyu case from before. That is so intriguing to me.

I love the fact that Show introduces a new case, so we can feel a sense of change, but keeps it connected to the previous case, and likely, our overarching story, so that this new case also works to drive our main narrative forward. I like that a lot.

Plus, I love that the arrival of this case, also brings to the surface that, 1, Soo Hyun knows Jae Han, and 2, Hae Young knows of Jae Han. I’ve always seen this as the missing link that will work to draw Hae Young and Soo Hyun to work more closely together, and I feel like with this reveal, we are finally on that cusp.

Poor Fiancé Dude (listed as Kim Min Sung), though. The more details that are revealed to us, the sorrier I feel for him. It’s bad enough that his fiancée supposedly suddenly committed suicide. But the reveal, that she’d been messing around with Han Se Gyu, means that she’d been cheating on him, too. That’s not great.

I do love the mirror effect that we get, of seeing Soo Hyun and Hae Young search for evidence of her being alive in 2015, while at the same time seeing Jae Han investigate Shin Da Hye’s connection with Han Se Gyu and the blue diamond necklace. I thought that was cool.

I also loved watching Jae Han enlist a very young and innocent Soo Hyun’s help, in investigating the case. Her earnestness and clumsiness, coupled with his patience mixed with exasperation, was very cute to watch.

This does make me wonder, though, if Soo Hyun might recall anything useful in the present, that might help her find Shin Da Hye.

From the way Shin Da Hye’s sister is acting, it does feel like she could well be hiding something. It just feels weird that a family would burn all the belongings of the deceased, and not retain anything as a keepsake.

That last scene, where Soo Hyun spots that book on the shelf, and the team actually confirms that the fingerprint they’ve lifted from the book is indeed Shin Da Hye’s, is so thrilling. I held my breath the whole time.

I love the promise that this holds, that once again, Hae Young and Jae Han will work together to crack an otherwise impossible case. Dare I hope that this time, Soo Hyun will be part of that partnership? 🤩

Episode 8

What a gripping episode of drama this worked out to be. I felt completely absorbed and engaged, despite being extra tired today, from lack of sleep last night. That’s really impressive, I gotta say. 🤩

I found it such a thrill, to watch the Shin Da Hye case come together, with Soo Hyun and Hae Young working in tandem with each other, gathering information to piece together the truth.

And that truth is more dark than I’d expected, honestly.

Last episode, I’d just assumed that Da Hye had been a party girl on the side, and that’s how she’d been at Han Se Gyu’s party cabin. As it turns out, however, she’d been forced to be there, by her management agency, because said agency had been pimping out their actress wannabes to be companions for the rich and dirty.

Ugh. UGH. The unfolding of the scene, where we realize that, 1, Da Hye had been there only because she’d been so desperate to succeed as an actress, and 2, Han Se Gyu had sexually assaulted her, because sexual assault is his kink, is so horrible to watch.

I mean, it’s not the most shocking or terrible thing ever to make an appearance in a TV show, but the psychology of it all, lands pretty deeply, for me.

I feel so sorry for Da Hye, because she’d felt powerless to say no to her agency. And, the way Han Se Gyu literally drags her across the floor to take her to the other room to assault her, is so awful as well.

Poor girl must have been traumatized enough by this alone, even before taking into account the way Han Se Gyu eventually breaks into her house to kill her – but ends up killing her friend Kim Ji Hee instead.

Ahhh. No wonder Da Hye had fled the country, to start a new life elsewhere. And of COURSE the only reason she’d come back to Korea, would be because her mother needed her as a liver donor.

Originally, I’d imagined that Da Hye and her sister were perhaps more nefarious, because they were literally hiding a murder. However, the truth of the backstory makes a lot more sense. I can believe that ordinary people would make these choices, because of being caught in this specific set of circumstances.

From a narrative standpoint, I really love the way the pieces between the cases are coming together.

The fact that Han Se Gyu’s friend had recorded him assaulting Da Hye, and then tried to use the tape to blackmail Han Se Gyu, makes so much sense when stacked against the way Han Se Gyu had robbed his friends’ houses.

FINALLY, it makes sense. He’d staged the robberies, in order to find that tape, and then he’d staged a robbery of his own home, in order to deflect suspicion. Gosh, I love the writing in this show. It’s so detailed, and it all works together so well. 🤩

In terms of our main characters, I do love the fact that Soo Hyun’s line of investigation and questioning mirrors Jae Han’s line of investigation and questioning so well, that the people they encounter even remark on it. It makes me think that Jae Han’s really taught Soo Hyun well, in the time that they spent together.

I find it a rather comforting idea, that Soo Hyun’s carrying on Jae Han’s legacy as a detective.

ALSO. How very, very smart of Soo Hyun and Hae Young, to only reveal part of the recording to Team Leader Ahn!

The moment we see Team Leader Ahn and Superintendent Kim meet up with Han Se Gyu, and assure him that they’ll do everything necessary to get the case to blow over, I got so worried that they’d manage to foil the work of our cold case team. After all, Show has demonstrated that the corruption is systemic, and runs deep, with a lonnng history involving lots of very powerful people.

How very shrewd and ballsy, of Soo Hyun and Hae Young, to use this to their advantage!! 🤩

The growing concern on Han Se Gyu’s face is really quite satisfying to watch, even though I also felt a vague sense of anxiety around whether Soo Hyun and Hae Young would be able to pull this off. After all, Soo Hyun gets attacked while trying to prevent Superintendent Kim’s assigned kidnapper from taking Da Hye away.

It’s admittedly a little convenient that Kidnapper Dude would leave his car keys in the vehicle, so that it’d be so easy for Soo Hyun to jump in and just drive away with Da Hye bound in the backseat, but y’know, I’m pretty happy to just roll with it, for how gratifying it is, to see Soo Hyun prevail.

And of course, there’s that moment when Da Hye enters the interrogation room, and Han Se Gyu basically loses his last shred of composure. His shock and horror, as he comes right out and tells her that she should be dead because he’d killed her, is pretty perfect. It feels extra right, that it should be Han Se Gyu incriminating himself for the crime.

After all this, I do really appreciate the fact that Show remembers to give Da Hye and Faithful Fiancé Min Sung the emotional reunion that they deserve. I can only imagine how much heartache they must have each gone through, with Da Hye’s sudden disappearance. That emotional layer lends so much heft to how this storyline lands, for me.

Seeing them reunite is poignant, and seeing Soo Hyun being reminded of Jae Han, and look wistful about it, is just as poignant. 🥺

The pathos really ramps up in our final stretch, with Jae Han confronting Kim Bum Joo for tampering with the floppy disk evidence, and basically throwing down the gauntlet in a fight to the death.

I don’t think Jae Han meant it literally when he said, “I won’t leave until I die,” but uh, it looks like Kim Bum Joo had taken that very literally, with the way we see Team Leader Ahn eventually being the one to shoot Jae Han, on that hill. Ack. How horrible, for Jae Han to have been shot by a fellow cop.

Team Leader Ahn and Kim Bum Joo haven’t just been responsible for covering up Jae Han’s disappearance. They were responsible for his disappearance in the first place.

Now Team Leader Ahn is in a tough spot, though. Kim Bum Joo is pushing him against the wall for not controlling his team better, but Soo Hyun and the team just seem unstoppable of late.

What’s he going to do, now that he’s found Hae Young taking the walkie-talkie out of his desk drawer, where he’d hidden it? And what’s Hae Young going to do, to get that walkie-talkie back? Coz he’s got to get it back, right?

Coz I need him to keep talking with Jae Han, and get Soo Hyun involved too, remember? 😅

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Leslie
Leslie
2 months ago

One of the things I appreciated about these episodes, was the feeling I had of “Is, or is not, Hae Young a real loose cannon?” He does feel like one – he’s quite emotional – so, it felt possible that he would screw things up, and let Han Se Gyu slip through their fingers. It upped my anticipation. But, Hae Young was able to pull it together, sharpen his interrogation room acting skills, and bring the plan home. The Cold Case Team’s success was doubly sweet, for all that anticipation. I like that nothing, really, is a foregone conclusion in the drama.

Speaking of Han Se Gyu, Lee Dong Ha has the immoral preppy rich kid persona down pat. Actually, add monster to that description. His scenes of abuse were really hard to watch, and I’m with you, @KFG, when you say the party and sexual assault scenes felt sickening in a different way than tough scenes in other dramas. Maybe because Da Hye had become so humanized, these episodes. It’s always the personal, vs. the slightly detached observer, lens that brings this stuff home.

(I also had to research where I knew Lee Dong Ha from previously – why, She Would Never Know, of course.)

And isn’t Jae Han a bit of a loose cannon, too? He certainly signals his intentions to The Wrong People in a way that’s bound to bring him danger. Even as I admire his righteousness. I like that he is not presented in an-overly idealized way, even if he is a hero, of sorts, in the drama.

Really, how is the walkie talkie thing going to work out? I knew it would make a return, but at the time I was shouting (in my mind) at the screen, “Don’t throw that walkie away! Don’t abandon Jae Han back there in 1995!” Must start Ep. 9!

Finally, 100% on how these crimes and stories seamlessly interweave, almost before you know it. Really good writing.

manukajoe
manukajoe
2 months ago

Thanks for the write up KFG! This show has me gripped. Although it’s a lot more violent and ikky than I would like, with so many women getting attacked and murdered.

I liked the more peaceful vibe of Ep 7, it was nice to relax a bit and explore the relationships.

Ep 8 though got a bit nasty. And poor lieutenant Cha got beaten up by a man again! It was kind of victorious though, wasn’t it.

Confession – I have pushed ahead any almost finished Ep 9/10. The show is supere gripping but due to the subject matter I would rather watch Misaeng or Stove League or something a bit less violent and abusive. Even My Mister went a bit far for my taste.

beez
2 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Wow Manukajoe! I had decided to let Signal go because I don’t have time to watch but glancing at my emails, I saw your comment and now I really want to rewatch because I don’t remember Lt. Cha being beat up at all! (Nor do I remember anything else except the grisly murders.)

manukajoe
manukajoe
2 months ago
Reply to  beez

Yeah lots of ikky murders.