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Stranger 2: Episodes 7-8 Review

As we reach our halfway point, teammates are losing faith in each other, the lines of loyalty and authority continue to get more tangled, lies and truth mingle, and most importantly: time is running out in the search for our missing prosecutor. But who was really behind his disappearance? And will Shi-mok, Yeo-jin and their allies be able to find him before it’s too late?

Saya: We have so many things to wail about dissect this week, but first, we’ve got a returning guest to welcome to our forest of secrets! She warned me that she has controversial opinions, and do we still want her, and the answer is emphatically yes. Hi Anja! Can you introduce yourself for our readers who might not have met you before?

Anja: Hi Saya! Thanks for allowing me to voice my controversial opinions 😂. I’m a crime fiction writer (and huge K-drama fan) and probably because I have written a series of novels, I’m always on the lookout for what I call ‘Season 2’ issues. Which is probably why I’m more critical than some other people. 

Anisa: Welcome, Anja! I’m very interested to hear your spicy and, I’m sure, very smart takes. Don’t let our rabid fangirlism for this show scare you away. 😉

Yunah: Where to begin with this batch of episodes?! Let’s just say I’m on edge. If our beloved weasel doesn’t make it out alive…*starts chewing nails to the nubs*

Saya: I can honestly say I have no idea what is going on at least 50% of the time… but also I am here for it? And I do not for a moment think Weasel is dead.

Anisa: But how can he possibly be alive after that brutal, bloody bludgeoning we saw? And why can’t I get a Lee Joon-hyuk drama where he is neither mutilated nor murdered?! Please go back to rom-coms, Oppa, so I can stop dramatically abusing alliterations!

Anja: Part of me would still like Weasel to have staged his own disappearance but I can’t figure out how that would have worked. Still, imagining him hitting himself with a brick made me laugh.

Yunah: Did he whack his own self with a brick?! OUCH! But I guess desperate times…

Anja: Maybe he hit his own shin with the brick. Not his head, I’m sure.

Saya: But he can’t gag or tie himself up… though I guess he could have an accomplice. But it doesn’t feel staged? I mean, he practically had a halo last week, if that isn’t the biggest giveaway ever. How can one be genre-savvy and yet still never see this coming? 😭

Anja: That brutal bludgeoning and our short view of the outside of the cupboard Weasel was in made me very suspicious of Choi Bit’s laundry room. Incorrectly, it turned out.

Yunah: Even though I’m barely processing everything that’s being thrown at me, I’m still searching for “clues” although I’m well aware it’s a futile endeavour. 😅

Saya: I was immediately suspicious of Prosecutor Kim Sa-hyun coming in late and all mussed up, but then… did he have a really kind of sweet bro-talk with Shi-mok? I really loved that scene.

Anisa: He kinda did! And me too. I’m not hating him as much as I did at first and as much, it turns out, as I hate Woo Tae-ha. But also, after Yoon last season I suspect EVERYONE. And so does everybody who was on that team two years ago, which is becoming increasingly clear as lines of authority cross and tangle, and the former teammates we’ve expected to reunite like the Avengers are instead eyeing each other with unease and suspicion. 

Yunah: Exactly. No one’s truly as they seem. Suspect everyone! Except maybe our Shi-yeo duo? Mokjin? HwangHan? I’m seeing ‘HwangHan’ on Twitter! 

Anisa: Shi-jin! Though Twitter usually wins.

Saya: I wouldn’t say no to Yeo-shi…

Anja: My favourite moment was when Woo Tae-ha and Choi Bit were sharing a drink, and I was…. like what???? They know each other??

Saya: YES. I mean, I was super confused but also what a great “reveal”—of course they know each other. It’s that thing—people in the same field might be batting for different sides, but in most ways, they’re on the same team, even if they occasionally wear different uniforms. And also all of those encounters that drip with subtext and hidden meanings. What were they involved in together before? What “guilt” is Choi Bit shouldering for everyone? WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Anisa: Yeah, on one hand, no surprise that the two new and super shady people ended up being in on it together—and it works thematically—but on the other, that doesn’t stop it from being a delicious reveal. 

Anja: I have to admit though (this is my controversial opinion coming through) that even though I loved that moment, it also made my ‘coincidence radar’ go off. What are the chances of Shi-mok’s boss and Yeo-jin’s boss having been implicated in something together, involving Hanjo Group? 

Anisa: I know what you mean. Not so much perhaps these two high-ranking officials being involved in the same incident, because as Saya said, once you get to a certain level the inner circle is pretty small, and everyone is actually in on it for mutual benefit despite whatever sides they take publicly. But Hanjo being implicated too is a tiny bit much. Although I can’t complain about anything that gives Yoon Se-ah more screentime.

Yunah: I think one of my favorite scenes was from Episode 7: the conversation between Chief Kang and Shi-mok, and Shi-mok realizing that he must’ve been a bother, a thorn in his and others’ sides all this time by simply doing what’s just—a Sysiphean endeavor apparently!—amidst a morass of corruption. That doing the right thing is perceived as a nuisance. 

Anja: Yunah, I also like those scenes about doing the right thing, it’s building on last week’s theme about trying to do the right thing but you might have to call in a favour and then you’re obliged to help someone out in return later.

Saya: There’s something about Shi-mok’s reactions and lost-boy face that are so childlike that it makes you hurt a little for him. Also: the return of his headaches! I was wondering if they’d ditched that whole aspect of his condition, which admittedly I forgot about until I started rewatching Season 1, which pretty much opens with it.

Yunah: OMG the return of the headaches! I’m rewatching Season 1 as we speak, and they were definitely a recurring thing.

Anja: That’s absolutely what I mean by Season 2 issues: the headaches suddenly return out of nowhere, he’s driving a car again, there’s no explanation of his emotion-removal surgery (apart from a tiny moment at the start of the first episode). I feel for people who haven’t watched the first season and have no idea what’s going on with him. 

Yunah: Maybe my glasses are a bit too rose-tinted for anything by Lee Soo-yeon, but I wasn’t bothered by the return of the headaches, and I didn’t really put that much weight into his condition in Season 1 since in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that significant.

Saya: You don’t find it really integral to the nature of his character?

Yunah: I was thinking that perhaps the doctors got it all wrong in Season 1. That maybe a misdiagnosis contributed to a lifelong misunderstanding of himself, his actions, and his behavior. Shi-mok has emotions—he just struggles with expressing them. Kind of like Do Hyun-soo in Flower of Evil

Anja: Without the surgery (or whatever made him emotionless), the way he acts makes no sense. Without his loss of emotions, he would behave completely differently. They could have made him emotionless for different reasons, but that he is—or hardly has emotions—is the core reason of who he is as a character.