Stranger 2 Review: Episode 15

In the second last episode of this season, Shi-mok and Yeo-jin uncover the extent of Woo Tae-ha and Choi Bit’s involvement in Park Gwang-su’s death. Yeo-jin struggles to deal with the fall of her senior, while Shi-mok is once again offered the easy way out. The future of the police-prosecution reformation council is up in the air. When those at the top are revealed to be corrupt, what decision will juniors like Shi-mok and Yeo-jin make?

So far in this season, Woo Tae-ha has acted suspiciously but his motivations are never revealed to the viewers. When Woo Tae-ha seeks a meeting with Yeon-jae alone, it becomes clear why. The two seem to be set on working together for mutual benefits. While Woo has political ambitions and wants Hanjo to sponsor him, Yeon-jae needs someone high-ranking on the prosecution side to help her take down her brother and make sure her position in the company remains unchallenged.

Fresh from resolving Dong-jae’s case, Shi-mok is now preoccupied with figuring out who from the prosecution sent out fake clues and fake witnesses to botch up the police investigation. He suspects Woo Tae-ha and Kim Sa-hyun. Despite orders to stop, he proceeds to continue investigating Park Gwang-su’s case. A look into Park’s dubious financial statements and a conversation with his wife gives him a pretty good idea about who has been manipulating everything behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Yeo-jin investigates the women who were paid using Park’s money.

A tense conversation between Woo Tae-ha and Kim Sa-hyun reveals that while Woo had no hand in Dong-jae’s kidnapping, he tried to take full advantage of it. At least Kim seems to have some humanity left in him, because he reminds Woo that his games could have cost Seo Dong-jae’s life. If Woo’s plan to pin the blame of the kidnapping on one of the Segok police officers had succeeded, they would have ruined two lives. Kim says Woo should be thanking Shi-mok for solving the case, and I very much agree.

The events from the night of Park Gwang-su’s death are reconstructed during the course of this episode and reveal this—Woo had planned a night out at the vacation home with several public servants, despite knowing that Hanjo was involved. He had involved escorts and called the Chief of the Intelligence Bureau, too. Park’s death had been purely accidental, but Woo Tae-ha and Choi Bit, who had gone to the scene on her senior’s orders to clean up the mess, had together made the plan to abandon Park’s body, making sure that the circumstances looked like Park had died while driving.

Shi-mok, for his part, barges straight into Woo’s office, accusing him of hiring escorts and abandoning a corpse. It’s such a Shi-mok move to just bring all the facts to the table instead of playing games. When confronted, Woo goes berserk and hits Shi-mok where it hits—by accusing him of driving Lee Chang-jun to his death by accusing him similarly. Unfortunately for him, such maneuvers don’t work on our fearless and righteous prosecutor. Shi-mok decides to make the investigation official and charge those involved.

A meeting with the former director of the Intelligence Bureau, who was imprisoned in the very first episode, gives Shi-mok and Yeo-jin the final piece of the puzzle. The director confirms that he sent his juniors to clean up his mess, and Yeo-jin, shocked and emotional, rightly guesses that the junior was Choi Bit. That is how Choi Bit rose from being the chief of a rural police station to being in the intelligence bureau. Yeo-jin remembers Choi’s past comments about not knowing what it is like to be dragged into things and has no choice but to believe that the senior she respected so much is just as corrupt as the rest of them. 

Now that the truth is pretty much out, Woo Tae-ha corners Shi-mok and Yeo-jin in a last, desperate attempt to prevent them from revealing it. He threatens to ruin their careers and lives. He has perhaps caught on to how much Choi Bit means to Yeo-jin because he gives her the option of saving Choi. For a second, it looks like Shi-mok and Yeo-jin might at least think about Woo’s propositions. But then they play their final staggering move—showing Woo pictures of him meeting one of the escorts, and walk out on him. They don’t even spare him a second glance. It’s such a cool and brave moment and speaks volumes for the dedication and clarity Shi-mok and Yeo-jin share about their goals and their profession. 

Yeo-jin struggles to deal with the fall of one of her most respected seniors. After securing all the evidence, when she finally gets drunk and confronts Choi Bit in tears, I really felt for her. Here are two women in a place that makes it very difficult for women to get to the top. They relied on each other, inspired and admired each other, and were invested in each other’s success. For Yeo-jin to be involved in taking down one of the only people she ever respected in the profession is difficult, and Choi Bit is shocked into silence by her impassioned remarks. She also makes a valid point—that Choi underestimated her abilities by believing that doing favors was the only way for her to reach the top, instead of relying on her abilities. 

Chief Choi’s response to Yeo-jin suggests that she’s going to do something before her involvement with the case becomes public knowledge. Sure enough, the next day, a story about the police and prosecution colluding in the death of a lawyer shocks the nation. But revealing the truth is just one of many steps. Behind the scenes, Shi-mok and Yeo-jin take on their own bosses to prevent them from hiding the truth. Yeo-jin refuses to go along with the Director’s plan to conceal the extent of Choi’s involvement, while Shi-mok tries to get an arrest warrant for Woo Tae-ha. The episode ends on one of the best cliffhangers of this season—Woo Tae-ha walking into the press briefing room to find it empty, while Choi Bit walks into a room full of reporters, determined. I’m so excited to see what the finale holds!

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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]