Life on Mars Episode 12 Recap

Ok y’all, I’ve got major anxiety after watching this episode and I’m sure you do too. Don’t ever ask how many tense moments a drama can pack into one episode. My heart is racing and I’m not sure what just happened in Episode 12 because there’s a big plot twist coming. 

Race against time

Officer Yoon’s life hangs in the balance as our team races to find the house that Tae Joo remembers from the future. Exhausted and about to drop, Tae Joo refuses to give up. He just needs to find the house in Sungil Dong with the cross on the door. Dong Cheol asks him why he’s so sure about this house and Tae Joo tells him he knows it is because of the other case in 2018. Dong Cheol thinks Tae Joo has lost it due to the stress of looking for Officer Yoon.

Officer Yoon is the Korean Nancy Drew

Tae Joo looks at Officer Yoon’s notebook and heads back to City Hall (I’m thinking City Hall was the 1988 version of Google).  He discovers that she was researching villages that were being combined and sure enough, one of the potential new names is Sungil Dong. I love that Officer Yoon is so thorough that she manages to leave enough clues behind that the team finds the neighborhood. Tae Joo finds the house, jumps the wall, and uses his walkie-talkie to break the lock on the door. Inside we find a very alive and very scared Officer Yoon tied and gagged. Tae Joo unties her and embraces her as she sobs hysterically in his arms. Kim Min Seok is there too, sucking on his fingers and looking at the chaos around him. Tae Joo brings Officer Yoon her shoes and notices that she has a really bad manicure. Apparently, Min Seok did that to try to comfort her.

Kim Min Seok and Kim Hyun Seok

Lee Soon Ho’s real name is Kim Hyun Seok and he is Kim Min Seok’s real older brother. Officer Yoon has pulled herself together and decided that she will interview the boy to make it easier on him. While he eats ice cream, she asks him about his life before the orphanage. He mentions his hyung and an older sister, Kyung Ran. Min Seok tells them that he and his brother were going to their grandparents’ house and walked on the railroad tracks to Insung Station (where Tae Joo’s Dad died).  While tracing the brother’s steps, they discover that the boys ran away from home 3 years ago.  When the team visits their hometown they discover that the sister died from a disease and that a year ago their house burned down with their father in it.  Kim Hyun Seok was spotted in the area around the time of the fire and the dad was abusive, so it’s a no brainer that he probably killed his dad. There is a 3 year gap in Kim Hyun Seok’s history, where was he and why was his brother in an orphanage? It’s obvious he cares for his little brother a lot.

The man on the television

It’s so very 80’s and very creepy how they use the television and telephone to communicate to Tae Joo from the future (or is it the past?) in this drama.  Tae Joo is laying on the floor surrounded by all his research and clues, trying to figure out what the next step is when the man on the show starts talking to him. He asks Tae Joo what his motive is, does he want revenge? Tae Joo is obviously conflicted, he says it isn’t about revenge. Television guy scoffs and says that Tae Joo is too soft. Why is television guy goading Tae Joo? What do these people want from him?

The weekly murder helps tie it all together

This week’s dead body is that of a highly decorated police officer. One who was recognized for his efforts to clean up the streets of vagrants. The man had been missing for several days and was fished out of the water. He’s also got wounds that resemble Min Seok’s adopted mom, inflicted from a police baton. As they investigate this murder someone mentions that he was supposed to go meet someone named Pretty a few days ago. Tae Joo finds that name familiar, didn’t the crazy guy Dong Cheol calls E.T. call Kim Hyun Seok “Pretty” when he passed by him?

E.T.’s memories of Pretty

The web is getting tighter and tighter as the truth starts to come out. Kim Hyun Soek’s missing time was spent locked up in a welfare center. The same welfare center that the first victim, Go Yeong Suk worked at before she worked at the Hawaii room salon. E.T. freaks out when he sees Go Yeong Suk’s pictures and calls her a bad person. He says she didn’t feed them and she kept them drugged. He also said she was mean to Pretty aka Kim Hyun Seok. They called him Pretty because she would drug him and then put makeup on him. E.T. is extremely agitated while talking about her.

How much do you want revenge?

The link to all of it is the Hangbok Welfare Center. It wasn’t a hospital at all, but a place where vagrants who were picked up off the street were sent, more of a group home for the unwanted in society. They were gathering up vagrants 3 years before at the railroad station and Kim Hyun Seok was beaten down in front of his brother and hauled off to the Welfare Center while his brother was taken to the orphanage. Go Yeong Suk abused him while he was there and he took the name of a man who worked there with the riot police. He’s out for revenge against all the people who hurt him, including the director of the place.

Corrupt officials and Keystone cops

The Welfare Center is heavily guarded and no one will let the team through to investigate. I’m pretty sure there is a LOT that they don’t want anyone to see there. Back at the station, police chief Kang and Dong Cheol get into it as Kang obviousy doesn’t want them poking into the Welfare Center. Heated words and then shoving occurs between the two when Officer Yoon suddenly yells for everyone to be quiet. Kim Hyun Seok’s next target is the director of the Welfare Center. The director is at a hotel and just as they see Kim Hyun Seok dressed as an attendant, in walks police chief Kang. He provides the perfect opening for Kim Hyun Seok to shoot the director. Everyone starts running and Kim Hyun Seok gets away. He’s spotted heading for his home, he won’t leave without his brother. Officer Yoon shows up and says Min Seok is missing.

Plot twists for everyone!

Tae Joo is chasing Kim Hyun Seok and manages to catch him. They fight over the gun and it goes off, wounding Tae Joo. Tae Joo tries to talk some sense into the man but he says, “I haven’t started yet”. Then Min Seok shows up and his brother runs off. Tae Joo sees the inhaler on the ground and grabs it to run after him. Kim Min Seok is in a full blown asthma attack and needs that inhaler, he’s on the ground gasping for air.  Tae Joo kicks the gun away and considers the scene before him with the inhaler in his hand. We flash to his memories of happy times with his dad and then to Dad’s death. Tae Joo throws the inhaler to Kim Hyun Seok and we all know he could have just let him die right there by withholding the medicine. Kim Hyun Seok then changes the game completely. He tells Tae Joo he knows who the man from Seoul is as he stabs Tae Joo while trying to get away. He says it’s very interesting that Tae Joo doesn’t know why he’s there and that he shouldn’t trust the guy from Seoul. Police chief Kang shoots Kim Hyun Seok (seriously, why is this guy suddenly all in the mix?) and he jumps over the side of the bridge with Tae Joo holding onto him. Right before they fall, Kim Hyun Seok tells Tae Joo, “That person will come to see you soon”. They both go into the water and we hear the familiar sound of a hospital and the doctor saying that Tae Joo is flatlining.

My thoughts

First I have to say, thank you writers for not killing off Officer Yoon! Now back to the story. We leave this episode with Tae Joo floating in the water in 1988 and flatlining in the modern day. I was completely caught off guard by the plot twist. I thought I had it all figured out, Kim Hyun Seok is the bad guy, bad guy gets caught and now we are done. Nope, there is something even more shady than the Manicure Killer going on here. Who’s the puppetmaster pulling Tae Joo’s strings? Why is police chief Kang suddenly asserting himself and trying to prevent them from looking into the Welfare Center. He was groveling to the director as the guy was bleeding in the car, so we know this guy is important. Is Kang in on everything? Or am I just so far gone with suspicion that I trust no one? Does Kim Hyun Seok get away? We have a whole week to wait and find out.

Until the next murder,


Dramas with a Side of Kimchi



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