Open Thread: Signal Episodes 9 & 10

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I just had to have Soo Hyun headline our post today, because this pair of episodes belonged to her, completely.

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 9

This episode feels like a period where things are percolating, in preparation for bigger, more thrilling developments.

Yet, at the same time, the reveal about Soo Hyun’s experience manages to make it all feel quite gutting and personal, even though it feels like we haven’t quite yet arrived at the Main Event.

First of all, though, I’m so glad that Hae Young gets the magic walkie-talkie back from Team Leader Ahn.

My first reaction to this confrontation, was a bit of confusion, actually, because it feels like Team Leader Ahn is revealing a fair bit, and I wasn’t quite clear on why Team Leader Ahn would do that, since, in talking about it, it would reveal that he’s been keeping tabs on Hae Young.

In the end, though, my conclusion is that Team Leader Ahn was just that desperate to find out the connection between Hae Young and Jae Han, since there’s nothing that actually connects them, from all the background checks that have been done.

So Team Leader Ahn was probably doing a version of priming; he threw something out there, in hopes that it would get him something back, out of Hae Young.

Too bad for him, that he doesn’t get anything out of it, because their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of other colleagues.

I’m so glad that Hae Young does the ballsy thing, and claims the walkie-talkie as his own, and walks off with it. Ahhh. That was low-key badass, and I have to confess, I spazzed, just a little bit, in response. 🤩

We still don’t have answers to the questions that Hae Young asks himself this episode, about why the transmissions always happen at 11:23pm, and also, about why he’s the recipient of those transmissions.

The fact that Hae Young asks these questions, implies that there are answers to these questions. I sure hope Show plans on giving us those answers, rather than leaving it to a magical, coincidental sort of thing.

This episode, we spend a lot of time in the past timeline, and not only does that give us insight into Jae Han’s investigation of the Hongwon-dong Case, but it also gives us a deeper flavor for the relationship between Jae Han and Soo Hyun.

It’s clear that while Jae Han seems to treat Soo Hyun with a matter-of-fact affection as her sunbae, Soo Hyun’s absolutely got stars in her eyes for Jae Han, not only romantically, but also, as a detective.

The way Soo Hyun throws herself into investigating anything that she sees Jae Han investigating, is kind of cute – well, until it becomes dangerous, that is.

The way she studies those motorcycle pictures, and ends up inadvertently apprehending the actual mugger, is really quite amusing.

But Soo Hyun’s attempt to investigate the Hongwon-dong Case leads to much darker consequences.

On the surface, it kinda-sorta looks like she’s doing the same thing that she’d done with the mugging case; she investigates it because she sees Jae Han investigate it. The problem is, she puts herself in danger, and it seems that she doesn’t even realize that she’s putting herself in danger.

I mean, if she were a skilled fighter type of detective, and chose to go undercover in order to bait the killer (who happens to be Lee Sang Yeob! 🤩), that would be one thing.

But the fact is, at this point in her life, Soo Hyun’s far from being able to fight off an attacker. And yet, she goes around like that in the dark, quiet, dangerous neighborhood, focused only on putting herself in the shoes of the two victims.

It’s kind of beyond my comprehension, that Soo Hyun does not seem to realize at any point, that she’s in a vulnerable and dangerous position – that is, until she’s actually attacked by the killer.

My goodness. That’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?

I mean, how could she not have had any inkling of what she was risking, by doing this? It’s not like she didn’t know there was a killer on the loose in those parts?

Honestly, it’s to Jae Han’s credit that he’s so patient of Soo Hyun’s general cluelessness and naïveté. She’s earnest and tries hard, it’s true. But she can be such a walking liability sometimes, and that can really have high costs, when you’re talking about the Violent Crimes unit.

I guess that does say something about both Jae Han and Soo Hyun; that Soo Hyun really digs deep, despite her own shortcomings, and that Jae Han is discerning enough to see beyond her shortcomings, to the promise and potential within.

I’m SO glad that Soo Hyun manages to get away from the killer. Ohthankgoodness. She’s got some pretty strong survival instincts after all, and I’m so relieved that she survives that attack.

I can only imagine how terrible it would have been, if she’d actually turned out to be the third victim in these serial murders. 😬

The PTSD from that experience still haunts Soo Hyun, though, and I’m actually pretty shocked that she’s able to carry on doing her job as a hard-nosed detective, despite still suffering from the trauma of the attack.

I mean, the anxiety attacks only seem to occur when the Hongwon-dong Case specifically shows up in her orbit in some form, but it still strikes me as quite remarkable that Soo Hyun’s able to function the way she does.

Surely there are times when, in her line of work, other cases bearing some kind of similarities to the Hongwon-dong Case would show up? Wouldn’t that have some kind of triggering effect on her too?

That said, it does seem like Soo Hyun has her anxiety somewhat under control, and is reasonably functional, even when the trauma resurfaces. I can see how she could have kept on working over the years, despite that thorn in her side.

I’m glad that Soo Hyun eventually shares her experience with Hae Young and the other members of the Cold Case Team. Not only does that shed light on the case at hand, it also provides Soo Hyun with people whom she can talk to freely about this, which I feel is important.

On Hae Young’s side of things, I’d wondered where Show was going with Hae Young’s extended visit to Soo Hyun’s home.

As it turns out, it’s more than just a shot of levity for our entertainment, though it still tickles me somewhat, that Soo Hyun’s mom is scoping out Hae Young so intently, as a potential suitor for Soo Hyun.

Given what a farcical sort of tone this visit has, I’m quite impressed, actually, that Hae Young gets something important and meaningful out of the visit: Jae Han’s scribbled note, listing all the cases that he and Hae Young work on.

How curious, though, that Hae Young’s brother’s case is on that list. Does it mean that Hae Young will get to clear Hyung’s name, later on?

And.. will that perhaps save Hyung’s life..? Gosh, I’d love that.

In the meantime, though, with the discovery of all those bodies in the mountains, all disposed of in the same method, it looks like our Cold Case Team is poised to solve the Hongwon-dong Case, once and for all.

Dare I hope that this is the one where Soo Hyun will finally get to hear Jae Han’s voice, over the magical walkie-talkie??

PLEASE SAY YES.

Episode 10

This episode is completely Soo Hyun’s, and I’m glad for it. I feel a lot more connected to her as a character, thanks to Show letting us in on Soo Hyun’s struggles in the present, and her pain in the past.

I realize that before this, even though I’d liked Soo Hyun as a character, I’d felt somewhat disconnected from her. And that, mostly because she tends to keep a tough front up most of the time.

Now that we see more of her vulnerabilities, I feel like I understand her better, and empathize with her better as well.

Of course, I was always rooting for her to do well, because I know she’s up against dirty cops like Kim Bum Joo, who wants nothing more than for her to fail.

This episode, that’s exactly why he suggests that the case of the newly discovered bodies be assigned to the Cold Case Team. It’s not because he believes in them; it’s because he hopes that this will be the one to break them apart, and get them out of his way.

For that reason, I’m rooting even harder than usual, for our Cold Case Team to solve this thing and nab our killer.

Notably, though, Team Leader Ahn doesn’t seem to be 100% on board with Kim Bum Joo’s plan. He’s been looking more and more conflicted, in small degrees, which makes me wonder if he’ll turn out to be some kind of help to our team, after all.

Both in the present and in the past, we see Soo Hyun recounting her experience of being abducted by the killer, and while it’s clearly hard for her in both timelines, it’s also clear that her experience over the years, has sharpened her ability to analyze her experience, in the present.

Truly, sometimes it’s all about timing, isn’t it?

In the past, the memories might have been fresh, but at the time, Soo Hyun had been too much of a rookie to be able to make investigative sense of her memories. Of course, there’s also the thing where she was clearly extremely traumatized.

It’s already very admirable of her to dig in and recount the events in as much detail as possible, to Jae Han and the rest of her colleagues.

While it might look like Jae Han’s too tough on her, for insisting that she dig deep and try harder, when she demurs, saying that she doesn’t know, it soon becomes clear that the reason Jae Han pushes her this hard, is because he’s that determined to nab the guy who did this to her.

I do love any indication that Jae Han cares, even though I’m pretty sure that his care towards Soo Hyun isn’t of the romantic variety.

In the present, I admire Soo Hyun’s choice, to volunteer herself as a witness to the case, even though she knows that this is likely to trigger her PTSD.

It was kinda hard to watch Soo Hyun go through the hypnosis, no lie; I couldn’t help feeling for her, that she’s reliving her worst memories, all over again. Worse, it seems to bring up no new leads for the team, and that’s got to be frustrating for her too.

I’m glad, though, that Hae Young is attuned to Soo Hyun’s state of mind, and is careful to make sure that she’s ok.

He does that several times this episode, and I really like that. It shows that Hae Young’s much more empathetic towards Soo Hyun now than before, and I like that he’s doing what he can, to support her.

On a different note, I am also glad to see that Hae Young demonstrates a measure of growth, in the way he addresses the detectives, when called upon to give his analysis of the killer’s profile.

Past Hae Young would have bulldozed his way through something like this, meeting scorn with aggression. But Present Hae Young has definitely mellowed with the perspective that he’s gained from working with Soo Hyun and the rest of the Cold Case Team.

Now, he admits upfront that what he’s presenting is only theory, and that the detectives should only use it as a reference, as they do their investigations.

That’s humility and growth, and I can’t help feeling a bit proud of Hae Young, for being able to offer his analysis now, without feeling the need to be proven right.

On that note, I loved the personal sort of vibe that comes through this episode, during the magical transmissions.

I mean, yes, Jae Han provides that insight about the victims, that they’d all been highly introverted and didn’t even like going to the grocery stores, and that becomes an important clue for Hae Young, in figuring out the identity of the last victim, and also, where to look for the killer.

The thing that gets me more, though, is the personal conversation that Jae Han and Hae Young have, about Soo Hyun.

I freaking love – LOVE!! – Jae Han’s slightly discombobulated but super pleased expression, when he hears from Hae Young that Soo Hyun is now his team leader. He’s clearly uber proud of her, and that makes my heart want to burst from the feels. 🥰

On a secondary note, I also love how this gives Hae Young insight into Soo Hyun’s rookie days, as a detective. I feel like this will also deepen his understanding of and appreciation for her, in the present.

I also really love that it’s Hae Young who prompts Jae Han to seek out Soo Hyun to encourage her, in the wake of the incident.

Jae Han’s a gruff kinda guy, and even though he clearly does care about Soo Hyun’s wellbeing, I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t have sought her out, without Hae Young’s prompting to do so.

How trippy, really, to think that if Hae Young hadn’t prompted Jae Han to encourage Soo Hyun, Soo Hyun might well have ended up quitting the force, and there would be no Soo Hyun on he force in the present, to lead the Cold Case Team.

As awful as the murders are, that Killer Dude commits, the backstory of his childhood works out to be just as horrifying, if not more so.

The idea that he’d been abused by his mother in many of the same ways, is just so horrific. It’s bad enough if these things were to happen to an adult. Just imagine how overwhelming and frightening it must have been for him, as a child.

Gah. No wonder he’s turned out to be so messed up. And under his mom’s insistent tutelage, it’s not very surprisingly, really, that he would seek out victims the way he does, to “make things better” for them, the way Mom had used to do to him.

I have to wonder what was going on with Mom. She was clearly mentally unstable. Had she been abused too, and had she just been furthering the cycle of abuse, the way Killer Dude then went on to further the cycle of abuse? Sigh. It’s terrible to think about, really. 😭

In the present, I did very much love watching Hae Young and Soo Hyun make progress on the case, separately but yet, kinda together.

I really liked watching Hae Young actually find the actual traces of the last victim, and from there, determine her identity. I also got a thrill from the way Hae Young finds the convenience store where Killer Dude looks to be working.

Hae Young’s profiler instincts are on full display, and like I mentioned in earlier episodes, I do love me a competent protagonist. 🤩

On Soo Hyun’s side of things, I half wanted to hold her back from retracing her steps in Hongwon-dong, and half wanted to applaud her for having the courage to do so.

It feels like something that she should have done a long time ago, not only to apply her new-found discernment and experience to the case, but also, to face her demons and overcome them, so to speak.

The fact that she actually had a memory repressed, after the attack, says a lot about how deeply affected Soo Hyun was, by the entire experience.

And what a memory it turns out to be too; that the killer had actually had her neck in his hands, and had been in the process of strangling her to death. Thank goodness for Jae Han, who had appeared in the nick of time.

Even just watching that was stressful. Gurgle. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Soo Hyun, to have gone through it. 😖

As we close out our episode, Show’s got me holding my breath, with Soo Hyun entering what looks to be Killer Dude’s house. And, from what we’ve seen of Hae Young’s time at the convenience store, it seems that Killer Dude ought to be home, too.

Ack. What will Soo Hyun find, upon entering the house? Will her trauma manifest itself now, in the form of an anxiety attack? Or will she be able to face off with Killer Dude, and prevail? 😱

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
4 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
manukajoe
manukajoe
2 months ago

Loving this show and sucked deep in, a few eps ahead of schedule I have to admit.

In Ep 9 we remember why Jae han doesn’t watch movies, don’t we (because the girl he liked was murdered and had movie tickets she was planning to give to him).

Wow the music is fantastic. I love it. When she’s looking at the photos of the mugger. The Road by Kim Yuna. Magic! For your pleasure:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe5J2l2scl8

I don’t understand why Cha would go looking for the murderer herself, it’s incredibly dangerous and undoubtedly not police procedure. Didn’t she do something similar before already?

In Ep 10 we see Cha going into danger again. Maybe it’s her turn to beat someone up. Why doesn’t she call for backup? Why is she going there alone? It’s hard to believe the plot honestly.

Leslie
Leslie
2 months ago

A couple of thoughts. I’m still not sure that Soo Hyun and Jae Han had a romantic interest in each other, back in the day. Soo Hyun seems to have had a crush, professionally, on Jae Han – as in great admiration and star-eyes for his character – but I’m not getting a romantic vibe…at least not yet. I don’t even get the feeling, that in present day her concern for identifying what might be Jae Han’s remains, is based on romantic interest. I get the feeling she’s lost someone terribly important to her, but it could be of the friend and/or revered seonbae variety. Jae Han has not shown romantic interest at all. For what it’s worth. 😉

I hate to say this, but I sometimes find Lee Je Hoon’s acting a little… melodramatic? He orates, at times, in a way that doesn’t feel entirely natural. Not putting me off him, or his character, or the show, but…

I love the opening song, I Will Forget You. It has a sentimental, folksy, somewhat old-fashioned quality about it, that sets the tone for the divided timeline well. I was surprised that it seems to have been written as recently as 2016? I find myself enjoying Korean folk music (with that sentimental vibe), particularly vintage stuff that shows up in throwback movies, like Reply 1988. Which also surprises me. Not my usual jam. But it is often as evocative as the heart-string plucking dramas that Dramaland serves up so well.

I’m with KFG about how horrific Killer Dude’s childhood was. They’ve been some of the most difficult scenes for me to watch, so far. 😢

Leslie
Leslie
2 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

Because had such a good idea, here is a link to I Will Forget You. For your pleasure. 😉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk8I81unawE

manukajoe
manukajoe
2 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

We faithful few.