Stranger 2 Review: Episode 3

After the first two episodes introduced the central conflicts of this season, it is time to get into the details. In this episode, we dive into a mysterious death that might become the deciding factor of who wins this police vs. prosecutor clash. Both sides seem equally willing to drag each other through dirt in this fight over investigative rights. In the midst of this, Prosecutor Hwang Shi-mok (Cho Seung-woo) is presented with a genuinely troubling case.

The case this episode focuses on is a sergeant’s death at Segok Police Station in 2017. It is Seo Dong-jae (Lee Joon-hyuk) who dug up the case and brought it to Assistant Chief Woo Tae-ha (Choi Moo-sung). This serves as a reminder that for all his antics, Dong-jae has pretty good instincts as a prosecutor. He reveals the details of the case—how a night patrol team of police officers received bribes from the businesses in their area. Sergeant Song joins the team and begins investigating the bribery allegations against his own team. One day, he is suddenly found dead in the men’s shower room at the police station. The death is ruled a suicide and blamed on Song’s existing depression.

A flashback into Song’s death reveals just how gruesome it was—the officers had found him hanging in the shower room. Initially, the other officers appear shocked and devastated by the death. Gradually, however, we begin to see some discrepancies. Song’s body bears the telltale signs of assault and blood residue is found under his nails. Two suspicious figures stand out—Captain Baek, who has bloody scratches on his hand, and Officer Kim Su-hang, who doesn’t seem very affected by the death. Captain Baek is also revealed as the only one who escaped conviction when the bribery case was reinvestigated after Song’s death. The reinvestigation also revealed that it was an open secret among the businessmen that Sergeant Song was killed.

In an effort to get the viewer emotionally invested in Sergeant Song’s arc, we get a flashback within a flashback complete with his backstory. Song used to be a detective and got demoted after standing up to an abusive senior. I’d say the purpose of introducing this arc was fulfilled, because I am now very much invested in the idea of Sergeant Song getting justice. At times, I felt that this episode revealed too much information about the case in one go, but who knows, maybe there is even more dirt surrounding the death. The only not-horrifying bit about this case is that we may see Shi-mok and Dong-jae teaming up to investigate it, which, if nothing else, will at least be very entertaining. 

Dong-jae also makes an interesting parallel between Sergeant Song and Shi-mok—both couldn’t stand corruption in their own workplaces. Song ended up dead, and Dong-jae seems to imply that a similar fate might be waiting Shi-mok. He only says it jokingly, but my sixth sense is tingling and I wonder if this is foreshadowing of some sort. It doesn’t help that this sequence of events is immediately followed by Shi-mok visiting the police station where the death happened. He investigates using his trademark method—by recreating the scene. Except this time, it is altogether jarring to watch Shi-mok tie a noose around his own neck. It is both horrifying and sort of hilarious how matter-of-factly Shi-mok pulls this off. 

In the previous episode, I was wondering how Lee Yeon-jae’s (Yoon Se-ah) arc would connect with the bigger police and prosecution drama, and this episode answered my question. Oh Ju-seon, the retired judge-turned-lawyer for the Tongyeong drowning case becomes the link between the two. Chief Prosecutor Kang Won-chul (Park Sung-geun) has so far refrained from commenting on media reports about his former senior Lee Chang-jun, unwilling to help Yeon-jae, his wife, evade suspicion. But Oh plays a really smart game with Kang, reminding him that Kang’s own legitimacy is on line if he doesn’t speak up. In doing so, however, Kang will inevitably end up helping Yeon-jae, too. And why does Oh want to help Yeon-jae? Because after his meeting with Kang, he drives to her office and agrees to work for Hanjo.

Yeo-jin (Bae Doo-na) chooses her colleague Detective Jang (Choi Jae-woong) for the last remaining spot on the Police and Prosecution Council. As she visits her old workplace and watches her team hurry off to apprehend a suspect, it’s really obvious that she misses being on the field. This episode provides a crash course into the history of police and prosecution fights in South Korea, which apparently have been going on for a long time. Through Detective Jang, we also get an insight into the real demands of police officers on the field—having means to defend themselves, the establishment of a regulatory body to prevent misuse of authority, and the most important one—the authority to request warrants without prosecution meddling in. 

The Segok case has the potential to become a weapon in the hands of Woo Tae-ha, who absolutely does not want to cede any authority to the police side. I was curious about his reasons for being so unyielding, but so far, it seems simply a matter of ego for the prosecution, who consider themselves more qualified and better than the police. Giving authority will mean acknowledging their shortcomings, and Woo seems to plan on investigating the Segok case to hold over Chief Choi’s head and get what he wants. 

This episode has given me a couple of things to look forward to—from Dong-jae and Shi-mok unwillingly teaming up to work on the Segok case to the actual truth of the case. I wonder if Chief Choi is really behind the cover up or if she is simply being used as a means to an end. So far, Woo Tae-ha himself has not gotten his hands dirty, but I wonder if that will continue to be true as stakes become higher. My guess is that Woo’s ruthlessness will depend on how the prosecution-police council meetings go. There is also a chance we might see Shi-mok and Yeo-jin butting heads at the meeting, while also may be collaborating on the Segok case. This season is definitely shaping up to be just as addictive as the last one! 

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Indoor Enthusiast (Esha) is a staff writer at Kdramapal. She is responsible for bringing all the latest happenings in Kdramaland to the readers of the site. You are likely to find her 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, shows about female friendships, a la Age of Youth, and rom-coms with sprinklings of feminism, like Because This Life Is My First, hold a special place in her heart. She lives in India and spends all her free time reading books. Indoor Enthusiast can be reached at [email protected]