Stranger 2 Review: Episode 13

After weeks of chasing dead ends, there is FINALLY promising development in Seo Dong-jae’s (Lee Joon-hyuk) kidnapping case. It is starting to feel like we might be close to being reunited with our second-favorite prosecutor in this show (the first being Shi-mok). Park Gwang-su’s case becomes even more entangled in theories involving most of the show’s major characters. With the finale airing next week, everything feels like it’s building up hype for the final reveals. What will Shi-mok (Cho Seung-woo) and Yeo-jin (Bae Doo-na) unearth from this forest of secrets

We continue with last week’s tense meeting between Choi Bit (Jeon Hye-jin), Woo Tae-ha (Choi Moo-sung), and Lee Yeon-jae (Yoon Se-ah). It’s pretty clear that the two sides are trying to gauge the extent of each other’s involvement in Park Gwang-su’s death. Woo reveals some startling details about the day of the death, betraying that he and Choi Bit are not just involved in the cover-up but maybe even the death itself. I had previously guessed that maybe Hanjo worked with these two to kill Park and cover up his death, but this meeting is making it seem like they worked separately. It’s all kind of strange right now, and I’m looking forward to the unraveling of this mystery. 

Together, both parties decide not to probe into the case any more, but it’s difficult to tell who is playing a game with who. Yeon-jae comments that she’d rather have dealt with Seo Dong-jae probing the case than Hwang Shi-mok. Woo counters this by reminding her that she would have been in trouble if Dong-jae was still around. These statements don’t tell me who is behind the kidnapping, but they do imply that Dong-jae knew enough about both parties to land them in trouble. I’m so curious about what he knows, now. We need him to stay alive! 

Kang Won-chul (Park Sung-geun) turns out to be (seemingly) smarter than I had previously assumed. Instead of jumping at the chance to take down by investigating the financial statement Oh Ju-seon (Kim Hak-sun) gives him, Kang is cautious and guesses that Yeon-jae herself gave it to him. He immediately recognizes Yeon-jae’s strategy to take down her brother, and takes his sweet time in deciding whether to launch an investigation, and by extension, agreeing to helping Yeon-jae. In the end, he decides to take on Hanjo and Lee Seung-jae after all. I just hope this move doesn’t come to bite the prosecution back. 

At this juncture, Oh Ju-seon is one of the most mysterious characters on the show. He seems to be following Lee Yeon-jae’s orders for the most part, but his involvement in the Tongyeong and Park Gwang-su cases, which are now suddenly relevant, makes me wonder if he’s playing a game of his own, too. Like Dong-jae, he too is involved in every case, but as an active participant. Shi-mok realises he’s the link between Park Gwang-su’s case and Hanjo Group after he sees Oh at the Eastern Prosecutor’s office, and deduces that Oh is the informant from Hanjo who leaked information to Kang. 

Oh’s involvement in Park Gwang-su’s case is very suspicious. According to Shi-mok’s interrogations in the case, not only did Oh fish out information about Park from Kang Won-chul, he also met Park’s former secretary mere days before Shi-mok sought her out. It seems that he relayed her information about Park Gwang-su which she, in turn, relayed to Shi-mok. One theory is that Oh Ju-seon suspects Hanjo’s connection to the case and realizes that he might suffer the same fate as Park Gwang-su if he doesn’t secure his bases, so he’s digging into the case himself. Right now, this case feels like it’s impossibly tangled in theories, but there is also anticipation that we are so, so close to figuring it all out. 

The fake witness case is perplexing to both the police and prosecution. Yeo-jin and Choi Bit reckon that the whole thing appears too planned and suspect that the witness was planted by the prosecution in order to push blame on to the police. They decide to keep an eye on the witness. Shi-mok, on the other hand, turns his suspicion towards Prosecutor Kim Sa-hyun (Kim Young-jae), whose enthusiasm for making sure a cop is found guilty so that they can win the investigative rights battle seems to nag at him.

Shi-mok even slips into Kim’s office to look for anything incriminating, but gets caught by Kim himself. In a hilarious scene that can only be pulled off by a character like Hwang Shi-mok, we see Prosecutor Kim yell at him for trespassing, and Shi-mok listen to him in complete silence punctuated by monosyllabic apologies and agreement. Shi-mok has one of the best approaches to dealing with overbearing seniors, and I might or might not be taking tips from him.

Seo Dong-jae’s mentee and Prosecutor Jung Min-ha (Park Ji-yeon) brings a massive plot twist in to Seo Dong-jae’s case. She suggests a possible link between the school violence cases he was investigating and the kidnapping, especially after some of the boys are revealed to have assaulted a grown man. This theory is so wild that it’s almost unbelievable at first. But Shi-mok hears Min-ha out patiently, and instead of dismissing it, further expands her theory by mentioning a link with the Tongyeong drowning case. 

This episode packs in some more wonderful Shi-mok and Yeo-jin moments to soothe all the teasing the overall season has subjected me to. I could use more of these moments. Right now, Shi-mok and Yeo-jin seem more like best friends than ever before, casually meeting for meals and discussing their cases. Shi-mok also finally gets to have a meal for the first time in this season, instead of his phone always ringing at the exact moment he sits down to eat. They discuss the school bullying cases Dong-jae was involved in before his disappearance and its possible link to the Tongyeong drowning case. His conversation with Jung Min-ha also reminds Shi-mok of Eun-soo, and I won’t lie, the mention of her brought tears to my eyes.

Ever relentless, Shi-mok and Yeo-jin follow up on this lead only to realize that the survivor in the Tongyeong drowning case—Kim Hu-jeong (Kim Dong-hwi)—used to live in the same area Dong-jae was kidnapped in. They go to apprehend him together, and the boy seems to panic and run away. What? Is it a panic escape or is he actually the culprit? I don’t think the show will play any more games with us this close to the finale, but if this boy mere 20 years of age did have a hand in the kidnapping, it is going to be the wackiest plot twist ever.

After a few weeks of complaining about the lack of any developments, I really enjoyed this episode. It was both fast-paced and connected enough dots to leave me excited for the next episode instead of frustrated. 

Indoor Enthusiast

Indoor Enthusiast (Esha) is usually found going on rants about how Ji Hae-soo from It's Okay That's Love and Sung Bora from Reply 1988 are the best heroines to grace our screens. Thrillers like Secret Forest and rom-coms with sprinklings of feminism à la Because This Life Is My First hold a special place in her heart. She can be reached at [email protected]

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