Open Thread: Signal Episodes 13 & 14

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I feel like Jae Han really is the heart of this pair of episodes, which is why he’s headlining our post today. 🤩

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 13

Gosh, I knew that we were getting into the Highly Personal stretch of our story, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for how emotionally confronting this hour turns out to be, for our characters.

Even though Soo Hyun’s been searching for Jae Han for so long, with a strong inkling that he’d most likely died, it’s still a hard thing to process, now that his remains have been found.

With the context that we’re given, via Soo Hyun’s flashback to how she’d sought Jae Han out at home, and cooked (well, attempted to cook) with him, and even sitting down to dinner with him and his dad, it adds an additional layer of pathos to her grief.

It feels like she’d actually gotten to know Jae Han and his father in a more personal way, before Jae Han’s disappearance, and given what we know, that Soo Hyun had been nursing romantic feelings for Jae Han for a long time, it all comes together to make a really heartbreaking, wistful sort of picture.

It’s like mourning not only the person who was lost, but also, mourning the could’ve beens, particularly when we see Soo Hyun discover that Jae Han had hidden that photograph of them together, in that Batman frame.

Guh. That does indicate that Jae Han had likely reciprocated Soo Hyun’s feelings, even though he’d had his heart broken so badly, when his first love had died like that.

That makes my heart ache for him even more, because I’m persuaded that he’d just started to be able to open his heart to someone again – before he’d gotten killed by Team Leader Ahn. Gurgle. That’s just tragic. 💔

Guh. It’s just really heartbreaking, to see Soo Hyun and Jae Han’s father grieve. Their pain is so deep, and has been brewing in their souls for so long. 😭

On Hae Young’s side of things, I was not prepared for the flashback that informs us that Jae Han had personally watched over Hae Young, when Hae Young had been young and alone, because he’d been neglected by his father.

The way Jae Han quietly follows Hae Young, and does what he can, to make sure Hae Young’s ok, is so kind.

And, I’m completely moved by his gesture, of talking the restaurant ahjumma to make omurice for Hae Young, and then paying her to do so, not only in the moment, but also, for all of Hae Young’s future visits as well.

Guh. Jae Han’s got a heart of gold, he does. And it’s so poignant, that as he does this, he actually knows that this is the Park Hae Young with whom he’s been having the magical transmissions. There’s something so moving about that.

I’d had some sense of it before, but it becomes extra clear this episode, that Jae Han and Hae Young have developed a real sense of connection and care towards each other, over the course of their transmissions.

There’s how Jae Han takes it upon himself to watch over young Hae Young, in 1999, when he’s neglected and alone, and there’s also how Hae Young tells Jae Han that he wants Jae Han to be happy – and Jae Han responds by telling him that he wants Hae Young to be happy too.

And, it’s clear that part of the reason Jae Han refuses to give up on the case, is not just because Hae Young had once said to him not to give up, but also, because Jae Han now understands why Hae Young had asked about the case in the first place.

Jae Han knows that it’s personal for Hae Young, and he wants to help.

Tears. That is just so moving to me, that over these scattered, short transmissions, where they have such limited amounts of time for their conversations, they’ve actually grown to care for each other.

I’m so glad too, that in the present, Hae Young learns about Jae Han’s kindness, even though Jae Han had asked Ahjumma to keep it a secret. It just feels right, that Hae Young knows.

Altogether, this really makes me wish that they’d have a chance to change Jae Han’s fate, and allow Hae Young and Jae Han to meet each other in 2015. Dare I hope for this to happen, in our last few episodes..?

In the present, I’m glad that Hae Young and Soo Hyun are discussing the case – though I have to admit, that with us delving into the past like this, I’d kind of forgotten that they were investigating Team Leader Ahn’s death, oops. 😛

It’s now landing a little ironic to me, that the cold case team believe Hae Young to be rather weak physically, when, 1, we see in flashback, that he’d been quite the fighter, and 2, we see in the present that he’s looking extremely ripped and tough, underneath his preppy clothes.

This amuses me, heh. Does this mean that we’re going to see some kickassery from Hae Young, in our final stretch? That might be fun. 😁

I’m glad that Soo Hyun and Hae Young manage to locate Kang Hae Seung so quickly, thanks to some good sleuthing, and some good profiling.

It makes sense to me, that when Hae Young identifies himself as Park Sun Woo’s brother, Hae Seung would actually be more forthcoming instead of less. After all, as she describes, Sun Woo had been the only person who’d been kind and sincere with her.

Plus, she’d been young and impressionable, and acting under duress, when she’d pointed at Sun Woo as the perpetrator. Now that her father’s dead, and the incident is so far behind her, I can see why Hae Seung would feel more confident telling the truth.

However, the real perpetrators, and Kim Bum Joo, the one who had actively worked to protect them, are still around, aren’t they? Will Hae Seung be bold enough to tell Hae Young and Soo Hyun the full truth, knowing that?

Episode 14

AHHH. SOO HYUN KNOWS!!!

Ok ok, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, I know. But I’ve been waiting for agesss for Soo Hyun to find out about the magical transmissions, and this episode, she does. YESSS. Finally! 😅

As we move deeper into that Highly Personal space, emotions get more and more overwhelming. This is particularly true for Hae Young, this episode.

My guess had been halfway right, in that Kang Hae Seung declines to testify, but it’s not for the reasons I’d imagined. It’s because she knows the kind of victim-blaming that she will be subjected to, and can’t imagine potentially losing her family over this.

Put that way, and juxtaposed with the fact that the statute of limitations for the case has long expired, I can’t say I blame her too much, for her decision.

However, this conversation isn’t without its results, because Hae Seung provides the first clue, that Sun Woo had been far from suicidal, when she’d gone to visit him.

If Hae Seung hadn’t been so shocked at the news of Sun Woo’s suicide, I’d say that it’d have been unlikely for Hae Young to have gone down the trail that he does this episode, and uncovered the more important, more shocking truth: that Sun Woo had been murdered.

Given that Hae Young’s been basically holding it in for years, while waiting to make headway on Sun Woo’s case, the way his emotions overtake him, is very understandable. It’s hard to have self-control, when your brother’s entire life and reputation are at stake.

My hero this episode, though, is Jae Han, without a doubt.

I love how dogged and determined he is, as he works tirelessly to uncover the truth about Kim Bum Joo’s corruption, so that he can bring the truth of the Injoo case to light.

He’s got so much stacked against him, and Kim Bum Joo’s even coming out and making barely veiled threats about Jae Han’s father’s business, but Jae Han doesn’t waver; not even once. Wow. That’s some serious conviction, and Jae Han lives by it, unequivocally. Respect. 🤩

I’ve been wanting Soo Hyun to learn about the magical transmissions for so long, that any hint of her even coming close, gives me thrills, this episode. Which is why I think Show is really smart, to have the transmission come in, in 2000, when Soo Hyun’s in the car with Jae Han, during the stakeout.

That creates this extra layer of thrill for me, coz we have Soo Hyun coming close to the transmission, both in 2000, and in 2015, at the same time.

Ahhh!! That somehow managed to double my excitement, even though it’s 2015 Soo Hyun whom I really need, to find out about the transmissions.

While Hae Young follows Team Leader Ahn’s trail back down to Injoo, I appreciated the extended glimpse that we get, into the dynamic between Jae Han and Soo Hyun, in 2000.

It’s so sad-funny, how devastated Soo Hyun is, when she learns that Jae Han’s still not over his first love, in 2000.

And, it’s gruffly sweet and caring of Jae Han, to watch over Soo Hyun, as she flails in the wake of her earth-shattering discovery – even though he has no idea that this is about him.

The way he changes plans (sob, poor Sun Woo, who’s waiting for him!), because he’s worried about Soo Hyun being out in the field with an injured ankle, and the way he ends up coming to her rescue on the roof, and getting stabbed in her stead, is all very stoically heroic.

It was even more sad-funny, when Soo Hyun starts wailing in the ambulance, telling Jae Han that she likes him, and doesn’t care that he likes someone else, as long as he doesn’t get hurt and doesn’t die.

Aw. And, hahaha! I couldn’t help laughing, Kim Hye Soo’s bawling scene is so epic! 😂

Beyond the funny, though, the emotions are real, and underneath Jae Han’s gruff awkwardness, it feels like he kinda gets how much he means to Soo Hyun. And, the way he’s gentle and considerate towards her, as much as possible, makes me think he might reciprocate her feelings.

Ahhhh. The wistfulness of the could’ve beens! 💔

In the present timeline, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with how Hae Young manages to function pretty well, in his profiler-investigator space, as he chases down Team Leader Ahn’s trail, in Injoo.

I also really appreciate how we have insight into how Hae Young reasons through each clue that he comes across, so that we can see how he goes from Point A to Point B, in his thinking and conclusions.

This makes it all feel more robust and well thought-through, I feel.

I’ll admit that my anticipation for Soo Hyun actually hearing a transmission has been so high, that I’m willing to overlook the fact that I personally find the delivery of the scene a little OTT.

I mean, Kim Hye Soo’s eyes look as huge as saucers, through most of the scene, and Lee Je Hoon already has a bit of a theatrical flavor to his delivery of Hae Young, when Hae Young isn’t actually distraught over saving his brother, so the whole thing leaned extra theatrical to my eyes. 😅

BUT. I’m just SO THRILLED that Soo Hyun finally knows, that I’m not even really bothered by the OTT execution.

Also, I’m so invested in what’s about to happen on Jae Han’s side of things, that I don’t even feel like I have the bandwidth to nitpick much, ha.

It’s just like Jae Han to get dressed and hurry out of the hospital, even though he’s just been stabbed, and his wound is now bleeding through the bandages, because he has the chance to save Sun Woo.

In my mind, I think he thinks of Hae Young and Sun Woo as kids whom he must protect. I don’t think it really matters to him, that in 2015, Hae Young is a full-grown adult.

And it moves me, that Jae Han doesn’t hesitate at all, to put his life on the line, to save Sun Woo, for Sun Woo’s own sake, as well as Hae Young’s.

I am on literal tenterhooks, wondering if Jae Han’s going to be able to save Sun Woo – and himself! – in our next episode. Will he manage to change the past, and therefore change the future?

Please let the answer be yes!

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Leslie
Leslie
6 months ago

@KFG – you articulated so well, many of my reactions to these two episodes. Perhaps most poignantly, “The wistfulness of the could’ve beens!” Every step of the way I had the feeling in Ep 13 & 14… if only. I teared up several times, at missed opportunities and poor choices, with my benefit of hind sight. There are a lot of sad sub-plots/stories to this drama, aren’t there?

I was in agony, for instance, that Jae Han did not keep his meeting with Sun Woo – at least so far. Anticipating Sun Woo’s murder feels/felt awful. Because of the asynchronous timing, it’s hard to tell what/when might be too late. I mentioned a few posts back, that I hope Sun Woo survives as much as I do Jae Han – but I didn’t have any real hope that would be the case. Now, my hopes are up! Show, don’t play with me! And, please, don’t make it be either Sun Woo survives or Jae Han who lives to tell the story! I want the A+ fairytale version, please.

And, yes, Lee Je Hoon continues theatrically and Kim Hye Soo’s eyes are as big as saucers. 😂 And, might I advise that everyone talk a little more quickly on that walkie? You only have seconds to communicate – no time for hesitancy, pregnant pauses or extended disbelief! 😆

Jae Han – what a mensch. 😍

manukajoe
manukajoe
6 months ago

Ep 13 – This episode is super interesting and moving and my favourite so far, the story of young Park Hae-young. It even has Hwang Seung Eon from Let’s Eat 2!

Ep 14 – Yay the hospital fart trope!

J3ffc
J3ffc
5 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

I actually had to go back to LE2 to remember who she was; good call! I’d never have recognized her (story of my drama-life, though).

manukajoe
manukajoe
5 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

I’ve watched LE2 a few times and was always struck by her funny face and pop-pop way of talking.

j3ffc
j3ffc
6 months ago

At this stage, I will give Signal one of my highest compliments in dreamland: going into the final week of shows, I have no idea how this will end, whatsoever, but am psyched to find out.

Leslie
Leslie
6 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

– I’m with you. Lots of ideas about how Show could end, no idea if any of them hold water. Glad I’m now free to move ahead to the final episodes, to get the rest of the story.