top of page

Stranger 2: Episodes 9-10 Review

As time keeps passing and our missing prosecutor’s chances of survival fall, those who are searching for him feel increasingly desperate. But the lies that surround this case are becoming very obvious, at least to our resident laser-eyed prosecutor, and it’s only a matter of time before this cover-up begins to crumble. As some troubling new clues emerge, Shi-mok and Yeo-jin must race to decode them before it’s too late for Dong-jae.

Anisa: This week was a doozy, even though we don’t yet know what’s become of our beloved Weasel, and I swear my blood is drying up (does that expression work in English?).

Lee: We say freeze the blood in your veins but it still works.

Yunah: Guys. Dong-jae’s been missing for 5 days. FIVE. And his wife is so inscrutable. I don’t get her!

Lee: Our poor Weasel. I like to think he takes comfort from the fact he knows that Shi-mok is on the case!

Anisa: Hold me. 😭 But we need to discuss actual plot-related stuff, I know. *pulls on big girl pants*

Lee: I want to talk a bit about Shi-mok’s condition because I think this episode showcased both how worried he is about Dong-jae but also how his brain simply doesn’t know how to process that emotion. “What is worry? What are its signs and symptoms? How do you know if someone is worried?” 

*gets call* *runs*

Anisa: So great!

Yeah, this is the first time this season the show is really delving into that aspect of his personality. I think it took longer this time because he doesn’t have Yeo-jin next to him, observing and telling him what he’s feeling with her drawings and matter-of-fact announcements. 

Yunah: So true. Yeo-jin knows how to read him. They’re just on the same wavelength.

Lee: He relaxes so much around her because she’ll step up and speak for him. Even something as simple as “what do you want to eat” is a difficult question for him and she knows that. I just wish they had more scenes like that because she is his safe space.

Anisa: I am really feeling the absence of their comfy, honest talks with each other, because this season is STRESSING ME OUT and we—and they—need that space to get some relief from all the masks they’re having to wear in the various roles they’ve undertaken.

Yunah: I felt like by Episode 10, everyone’s starting to lose their cool. They’re at their wit’s end, and everyone is screaming.

Anisa: Yeah, and everyone is just flat out lying to Shi-mok’s face now, which on one hand is a signal to him that he’s getting close, but on the other I imagine the stress is building up, especially as the days pass and it gets likelier that Dong-jae is dead. And the poor man has no emotional release valve, because while he has emotions, he can’t quite make the leap to expressing them.

Lee: As someone who cares for a stroke sufferer I have some experience in people whose brains no longer have the ability to process emotion properly. And after their cognitive skills have been affected, one of the few ways the brain has left to communicate emotion is pain.

Anisa: That’s interesting, Lee. It makes me think of how Shi-mok often visualises brutal physical injury in the moments when he’s emotionally disturbed, which is a connection I hadn’t made before.

Lee: One thing I really liked about this episode was that Kim Sa-hyun was revealed to be a surprisingly empathetic and kind man under his swagger and entitlement. He’s one of the few people who tries to understand and empathise with Shi-mok.

Yunah: Yes, and we also see him very suspicious of Chief Woo’s behavior. He knows something’s up, and I don’t think he’s the type to overlook things.

Lee: Also Sa-hyun’s question, “Did you think I was an idiot” reminded me of the discussion Shi-mok and Yeo-jin had in Season 1 about Shi-mok’s sense of superiority. He does think he’s better and smarter than other people.

Anisa: I hated Sa-hyun when we first met him, but he’s actually turning out to be one of the most interesting new characters. Because not only does he provide Shi-mok with some much-needed camaraderie—even though Shi-mok absolutely does look down on him 😂—the very nepotism that’s the source of Shi-mok’s disdain also makes Sa-hyun a perfect person to notice how shady Woo is being. And despite being close to Woo, Sa-hyun isn’t actually a bad guy. Or he has a line, at least.

Lee: Yes I think Sa-hyun’s problem is just his sense of entitlement. Wait, did I already type that? I need another phrase. There’s an obliviousness that comes from money, wealth, connections and social status. But dig underneath that and he does seem to care. He just needs to strip that away a little.

Yunah: How spine-chilling was that reveal of the police watch? I didn’t think there was more to that photograph, but I loved that new development. Things do not look good for the Police, and I know it’s less Police vs. Prosecution now because Dong-jae’s missing and that council has sort of taken a backseat, but it’s looking like whatever edge the Police had, they’ve immediately lost.

Anisa: My sister was yelling, “That’s not how forensics work!” when they magically produced that reflection, but I didn’t hate it. I feel like the plot development was enough that I can forgive the wonky science.

Lee: Should we float theories? Do we dare float theories? We’re still in the fog.

Yunah: Oh I got no theories yet, but that uncle with the anger management issues is screaming “guilty”.

Anisa: Yeah, he’s super shady. But then Chiefs Woo and Choi also definitely know something, even if they’re not directly involved in the kidnapping, and it’s only a matter of time before their colleagues catch on, if they haven’t already.

Lee: My theory is that someone wants to shed light on corruption around one (or all?) of these cases. And they’ve taken Dong-jae and set up the scene to implicate the police officers involved in Sergeant Song’s murder.

Yunah: Oooh, so do you think there’s another mastermind/Lee Chang-joon equivalent weaving this intricate web to ensnare all the corrupt peeps?

Lee: That’s the only thing I can think of to explain why Dong-jae was taken rather than killed, what the reference to “washing the dishes” means, and why evidence was found near the restaurant owned by one of the suspects’ sister.

Anisa: I hope you’re right, Lee, because that might mean that the whole thing with the Weasel is a misdirect and he’s alive and well—although I’ve had a bad feeling all along that he’s gone. I also feel like Dong-jae’s wife knows something but is being threatened by someone, because her being responsible would be too obvious. And she does seem upset, even if her reactions are all over the place.

Lee: My current main suspect is that young cop who witnessed the bullying. Of course that means everything else is a red herring including the apparent “accident” at the beach, which started the show. Hmm… not sure I should be floating theories at all. Egg on my face for sure.

Yunah: I’m just here to enjoy the Lee Soo-yeon ride. I don’t even bother coming up with theories ‘cause my mind is just ????

Anisa: To be honest, I have a hard enough time just keeping up with the developments in each episode. My brain doesn’t have any juice left over for theories.

Lee: When the show started and Shi-mok had the radio on, I just knew that everything mentioned in that news bulletin would be important. Now I’m wondering if all those stories have been brought in yet. The show’s planning is meticulous.

Anisa: It really is. One theme that came to the forefront this week was both Yeo-jin and Chief Choi facing hostility from their male colleagues after having been promoted over them, and the element of misogyny that is unspoken but clear in both dynamics. Things have been awkward at Yongsan Station ever since Yeo-jin was made lead on the investigation. The other detectives have said some cutting things, which were especially hurtful to hear from Geon, who was previously such a loyal friend. Not to mention that bed of sharks that is the Intelligence Bureau. It’s the same with Shouty Demoted Uncle—he can’t stand to be faced with the contrast between his fallen fortunes and Choi’s success, even though he ruined himself. 

Lee: That whole extended sequence of her bringing him to submission just by standing there in her office being his superior? And then following it up with her almost grovelling to her own superior? Korea is such a hierarchical society. Status matters.

Yunah: Yeah, you see Yeo-jin’s male colleagues muttering whenever she gets called into Choi Bit’s office. They’re definitely feeling jealous of her “special treatment.”

Lee: And in this week’s edition of “This show is surprisingly funny”, the nail art conversation had me in stitches.

Yunah: OMG I love that bit so much! The intricacies of gel vs. nail art! It’s handy to know the differences for this case in particular!

Lee: And the boys were so earnest!

Anisa: That was both hilarious and totally on point for the investigation.

Yunah: Yes, they were serious! They weren’t poking fun!

Anisa: I’m really looking forward to Shi-mok metaphorically busting some kneecaps next week. As in, taking out a bunch of liars with his signature truth punches. His building certainty that he was slowly discovering the stench of a massive cover-up was clear, and we know he’s excellent at reading people’s falsehoods.

Lee: In these episodes Shi-mok was basically an investigation machine. And that goes back to the idea that an incorruptible man wants nothing. He doesn’t have to stop for the other things that people have to stop for. He can just keep going.

Anisa: He’s the Justice Energizer Bunny!

Yunah: Gotta love his truth punches. They always knock people off-guard. I think Jo Seung-woo refers to it as Shi-mok’s “trap from hell.”

Anisa: I’m hoping Shi-mok and Yeo-jin are able to get on the same page soon—and Yeo-jin figures out that Choi has been hiding things from her in a much bigger way than she’d imagined. That was a tense moment when Choi ran to grab Yeo-jin’s copied case files before she could see them.

Yunah: I had never seen Choi sprint out of a room in such a panic before. That was WILD to see!

Anisa: Both she and Chief Woo are showing cracks in their facades, so it’s only a matter of time before they fall. But I have a feeling whatever dirt they’re stained with goes higher up the chain of authority than we know yet. In the meantime, I hope Shi-mok picks up on Woo’s nervousness about that resort and runs with it, because I have a feeling there’s a clue there about Dong-jae’s location.

Lee: Oh yes, Chief Woo and his super obvious “Give me progress on this case so I can see if you’re onto me” that did not fool Shi-mok at all. And the funny coloured folder thing with him trying to take back the folder on the prosecutor’s death and Shi-mok not having a bar of it. Hopefully he’ll rewind the conversation and note the mention of the resort.

Yunah: Or if Shi-mok doesn’t pick up on it, that Sa-hyun does and relays his observations to Shi-mok. His whole “Oh hello there! A pink folder I just laid eyes on!” shtick was so laughably unconvincing.

Anisa: It was so bad it was actually funny. Except, you know… Dong-jae. 🥺 We’ll be biting our nails until next week.

Yunah: Hope they’re not manicured!

Lee: There must be a path out of this fog! Can’t wait.

#review #JoSeungwoo #ForestofSecrets2 #dramareview #stranger2 #BaeDoona

bottom of page