This season of Stranger is flitting between several cases without giving us resolutions or new developments on any of them. From the Tongyeong beach drowning case and the Segok police station case, we are now neck deep into the investigations of the death of lawyer Park Gwang-su.
So far, there is no telling which clues will lead us to Seo Dong-jae (Lee Joon-hyuk), who has been missing for four episodes now. The more Shi-mok (Cho Seung-woo) and Yeo-jin (Bae Doo-na) investigate, the more Choi Bit (Jeon Hye-jin) and Woo Tae-ha (Choi Moo-sung) seem to get defensive and desperate. Right now, the only guarantee is that what the two of them cooking together is nothing short of poisonous.
The major focus of this episode is lawyer Park Gwang-su’s death, which Seo Dong-jae was looking into right before he went missing. Shi-mok begins probing into the case and discovers some startling facts—that Dong-jae had visited the site of the lawyer’s accident on the day of his kidnapping. It also turns out that the dash cam footage from the lawyer’s car is missing, and the case was closed without looking into this missing puzzle piece, which is very, very suspicious.
Shi-mok puts these questions to Assistant Prosecutor Jung Min-ha (Park Ji-yeon), who worked on Park Gwang-su’s case but she reacts strangely—instead of giving excuses to save herself, she tries protecting Dong-jae instead. Later, she tries overcompensating by revealing how much Dong-jae sympathized with the deceased lawyer. All in all, her behavior is rather odd. The case file is also missing from Dong-jae’s office, and his staff seem to be reluctant to divulge full details to Shi-mok.
As he meets more people from Park Gwang-su’s life, the mystery surrounding his death only grows. Several facts about the death don’t add up—like the fact that he called 911 just before passing out, that Dong-jae has personally visited the accident site, that Park Gwang-su had almost no alcohol in his body but still stopped in the middle of the street instead of parking to the side, that he was driving in an area he barely knew without his GPS on, and that his wife and secretary said completely different things about his drinking habits.
Aside from Dong-jae’s mentee and his staff, there are other people in the equation who don’t seem to be telling the truth either—the captain of the traffic investigation department, who reports to Choi Bit after Shi-mok leaves his office, as well as Park Gwang-su’s wife. It also seems likely that Park Gwang-su was in financial trouble and in the middle of pulling something shady with his law firm mere moments before his death, and that might be the reason he died.
Shi-mok is now well and fully involved in investigating Park Gwang-su’s case, but doubts whether he’s on the path that will lead him to Dong-jae’s kidnapper or if he’s just reading too much into coincidences. But the co-incidences are too many to ignore—from Dong-jae investigating it to Choi Bit being the chief of the police station that wrapped up investigations on the case. In the middle of all this, Woo Tae-ha pushing Shi-mok to step back from the Park Gwang-su case is even more suspicious.
Not only does Woo know where to find Park Gwang-su’s wife—who was the only one who raised an objection over his death—but he also meets her. When Shi-mok interrogates him about the case, he blatantly lies that Dong-jae never brought it up when he visited him and makes it seem like Dong-jae only wanted his attention instead of actually wanting to solve these cases. It is now pretty much obvious that this is the case that links Woo Tae-ha and Choi Bit together, and one they don’t want resolved.
What remains to be seen is who are the other major players involved—is it Hanjo, under whose directions the death was hushed up, or is the case linked to corruption? Either way, now that the case has piqued Shi-mok’s curiosity, I have no doubt that we will see a resolution soon. In the meantime, however, as more time passes with no news of Dong-jae, I’m starting to lose hope. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that Stranger kills off a major character.
I’m sad that this episode did not give us Shi-mok and Yeo-jin collaborating on the investigation again. While Shi-mok is busy with Park Gwang-su’s case, Yeo-jin investigates further locations where Dong-jae could be held hostage. She visits the restaurant owned by Kim Su-hang’s uncle and former chief of Dongducheon police station, and in a very thrilling scene, investigates their basement, but finds nothing except terrible hygiene practices from the restaurant owner.
One of my favorite scenes from this episode was the former chief of Dongducheon police station sauntering into the meeting room with Choi Bit, hoping to either intimidate her or treat her like an equal. The scene started off tense, with Choi Bit glaring at the man till he realized she’s his senior now and he needs to address her formally. Later, when he loses his temper with Yeo-jin, Choi Bit’s composure finally cracks and she matches his volume. I loved seeing a feisty woman put an ill-tempered man in his place. They also realize that his alibi for the night of Dong-jae’s kidnapping is false, and he has been faking overtime to make extra money.
This week’s episode ends much the same way as the last week’s, with a cliffhanger—a witness pops up saying he’s seen the kidnapper’s face—but there is no way of knowing if new developments will lead us to Dong-jae or not. Along with the witness comes a scandalous new revelation—Team Leader Choi (Jeon Bae-su) uncovers proof that a police officer might be involved in the kidnapping. This is a huge blow to Choi Bit, who made Yeo-jin announce to the media that the case has nothing to do with the police. Now, it remains to be seen how she bites back in the face of this setback.