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Life on Mars (Korean) Episode 8 Recap

In this episode, we finally reached the point where memories and flashbacks converge with reality (/or subconscious?).

Han Choong Ho quickly becomes the suspect of the death of Go Yeung Suk. She had panties stuffed in her mouth and her nails were impeccably painted. This causes Tae Joo to recall photos of the murders in present life and he reels a little.

The cops quickly descend on the hair salon, but cannot find Han Choong Ho anywhere. The fact that Tae Joo’s mother was instructed to pack for a long trip was even more damning. Now, Tae Joo truly understands that his father has been sleeping around outside with a lover.

He comforts his mother gently and later chastises Dong Cheol for copping young Tae Joo’s treasure box, which contains presents from his dad. Dong Cheonl retorts indignantly that the box contains clues, such as lighters which couldn’t have belonged to the kid.

After an autopsy, the doctor confirms that Go died from suffocation but was anesthesised first with cotton balls stuffed up her nose. Na Yong brings back results that prove that the blood in the room belonged to Han Choong Ho. Tae Joo imagines his dad painting the nails of Go and then suffocating her and this is too much for him.

He retches in the toilet before facing himself in the mirror…and suddenly, there’s a bright flash. The mirror pulses with images of 2018 reality of doctors trying to stimulate his consciousness with brainwaves (and…BTS?) but they pull away after receiving no response and determining that Tae Joo is blocking his subconscious.

In his frustration of trying to stop the doctors from giving up on him, Tae Joo punches the mirror. Na Yong sees this and brings him to the infirmary, whilst being sad that he still hasn’t adapted to life here. Tae Joo confides that it’s not that, it’s more like he keeps having unpleasant memories of his childhood.

Na Yong tells him that humans only remember 5% of their memories; the rest is stored in their subconscious and maybe it’s better that way – some memories may be better left forgotten.

Dong Cheol breaks the moment by crashing into the room and wonders what’s going on, before quipping, “What’s wrong with your hand? Are you trying to be like me?” Haha.

As investigation goes on, the cops bring back a bunch of hostesses who worked with Go before. They recognise Han Choong Ho as Mr Pacific, because he likes to gift this particular brand of comestics to a girl whenever he tries to chase her. Tae Joo once again looks uncomfortable at this new piece of information.

One of the hostesses chimes in that Han is seeing someone else from Lottery Gang and that Go was really jealous about it. Another laughs that Han might already be dead, because he stole Go from Oh Jung Man – a leader of the Seongho Gang.

Na Yong returns with information on the call log of the phone box from which Han Choong Ho was said to frequent – 12 were made to the inn where Go died, 2 to Tae Young Stationary, 2 to Milky Way Coffee Shop, and a call abroad. Dong Cheol pinpoints the coffee shop as there is a lighter from there found in Tae Joo’s treasure box.

Whilst there, Nam Sik notices a girl in the kitchen and quickly alerts Dong Cheol. (Can anyone enlighten me why this girl was of such interest?? I felt like I missed something.) Dong Cheol hilariously uses a hand signal that no one understands so he has to hiss out loud, “Block of all exits, you idiots.”

The girl cornered starts waving a pan and a knife but Dong Cheol saves the day with a fire extinguisher. HAHA.

When Dong Cheol scolds the girl for dating someone like Han Choong Ho, she retorts that she has standards and that “He has a girlfriend already, named Madam Jo!”. Tae Joo asks why he would then call the coffee shop and she says it’s to check how many customers there are, “Because he’s the boss!!”

Dun dun dun. All the detectives sit up straight as they realise what this means – Han Choong Ho is the leader of the Lottery Gang, runs a casino alongside Madam Jo and has already made 7 hundred million won. The coffee girl reveals that Han Choong Ho previously placed all this money into a bag because he wanted to store it somewhere. The cops recall the day Han was caught and quickly return to the bathroom, but alas there is nothing up the ceiling.

To Dong Cheol, that’s the clear motive for Han’s murder of Go – she must have taken the money while he was being held under arrest. Tae Joo also realises that a photo of Han supposedly in Hawaii, was merely just a photo of him standing in front of a photo-plastered wall in the Hawaii Room Salon.

Later that night, Mr Yang sees a dejected Tae Joo and advises him to find the source of the problem – if the meat soup stinks, you can’t just add more spices to take the stink away; you have to wash the meat carefully in the first place and rid it of any blood.

Dong Cheol and Tae Joo continue to stake out the Hans’ house. While Dong Cheol is off satisfying nature’s call, Tae Joo takes the opportunity to return young Tae Joo’s treasure box to him.

Young Tae Joo knows that his dad did something wrong and that the cops are here to arrest him, but Tae Joo gently diverts the topic to pogs. Young Tae Joo adorably chimes in that he doesn’t have Sun Dong Yol’s pogs and that only the stationary store in the city has it but he’s not allowed to go there.

With this revelation, Tae Joo speeds off (leaving behind Dong Cheol who is still urinating mind you) back to the station to pick up Na Yong, because remember? 2 of the calls made by Han was to a stationary shop in the city. They stake out the shop and Tae Joo is almost desperate for his father to turn up, “If he is the man I remember.” The man who loves his son so much.

True enough, just when the shop is about to close, Han turns up to buy the pogs. Tae Joo then appears and Han looks confused as to why he is being arrested. Fake? Real? He attempts to run but Na Yong trips him up and Tae Joo handcuffs him, before telling him that Go has been killed. A bewildered Han flusters at this new information and claims that Oh Jung Man must have been the one whom killed Go.

“Do I really look like that kind of person to you, Mr Detective?” Tae Joo pushes him away at this statement, just when Oh’s thugs descend upon them.

Han takes this moment to escape while Na Yong tries to help Tae Joo face off the thugs. Luckily, the other cops on the team arrive and take down the thugs (I’m quite amused at how Na Yong helps in one scene by pulling the hair of a thug – she’s such an adorable and feisty one, and it’s funny how sometimes her usual moves escape her and she turns into a flustered person again).

Also, somehow Tae Joo looks really cool fighting the gangsters…? Even without the usual slow motion or the stunt doubles as usual action dramas have, his ‘normal’ tackles and how he shields Na Yong feel so realistic and hence, even more attractive.

Tae Joo asks the thugs about Oh Jung Man’s location but finds out that Oh has been away to Seoul for three days, thus he couldn’t have been at Go’s inn either. Tae Joo is disappointed once again by Han’s lies.

Looking at Tae Joo’s dejected face, Dong Cheol attempts to wipe off some of his blood out of concern, which was so FUNNY and cute as the other team members look on. Yong Ki quips as he walks past that his hand was a bit scratched but Dong Cheol is just like, “You’ll live.”

Tender moment of brother love is over when Dong Cheol finds that his police car is slightly wrecked from the ordeal and Tae Joo and Na Yong immediately run away. Hahahaha. Watching how Na Yong drops her shoe and how they calmly retrieve it before running away again is such a gem.

Back at the station, the coffee girl whines that she has earned her right to food because she has identified Madam Jo. She points to the information sheet on one of the hostesses and beams – and everyone realises they have been duped, because she’s the one who said that Han was probably dead for dating Oh Jung Man’s girl. If you recall, she was the one who chimed in right when someone said that Han was dating someone from the Lottery Gang. Smart eh? The show’s writing.

They hunt down Jo’s apartment but alas, it was already empty. Tae Joo spots the cut-open handcuffs and knows that Han has met up with Jo but that they couldn’t have been far away. Nonetheless, their entire night of searching doesn’t churn up anything useful, and they return to the station defeated. (How come everyone is awake at night? Like the shopowners?)

Na Yong once again comes to the rescue quietly. She has already done background research on Jo Choon Hee and determines that she’s the mastermind of this Lottery Gang as she owns multiple properties, including a deserted factory which she inherited from her husband after his death.

Nam Sik interjects that a call has just come in – young Tae Joo has gone missing. The detective team descends on the salon and Tae Joo’s memories get triggered by the sound of the telephone. He recalls his dad calling the young him and him running out of the house alone. Tae Joo then asks where the nearest station is because young Tae Joo has gone there to meet his dad, and Yong Ki adds on that there is a train station near the deserted factory. Tae Joo gently gives his mother her abandoned shoe and tells her not to worry.

True enough, young Tae Joo is waiting for his father at the train station.

Dong Cheol lies that they are not here to arrest Han but to apologise to him and young Tae Joo unknowingly reveals that his dad will be here at 9.

All the cops prepare a stake-out, which also includes guns, whilst Na Yong stands guard by the child.

As the time goes past 9, Dong Cheol thinks that they have been duped, although Tae Joo is sure that Han wouldn’t lie to his son. Na Yong places her coat over young Tae Joo, which reveals that she is wearing a white dress underneath – and the woman in Tae Joo’s memories was also wearing a white dress!

Just when all the cops pull out, young Tae Joo starts running. Na Yong and Tae Joo follow him and they realise that young Tae Joo is running after his father.

I find this so amusing because in the first scene, Tae Joo is SO far away and that makes sense, but in the second scene, you can tell that Jung Kyung Ho is intentionally running very slowly (slower) so that he doesn’t close up that gap.

Anyway, Tae Joo gets hit by whirlwind of flashbacks and combined with what he’s seeing right now – he’s scared that Na Yong is the white girl in his memories. As he’s running, we hear 2018 doctors saying that Tae Joo is doing something in his subconscious and that his heart rate has gone up higher than usual.

He loses the running party, but relying on his memories, he finds the route to the abandoned factory. A young Tae Joo runs past him and he follows after…and there, he sees his dad whacking someone with a pipe.

Han is shocked to see him and looks through a hole in the wall to find young Tae Joo looking at him – and there you have it, the converge point of memory with reality. Han quickly shoves all the money into his bag and runs.

Tae Joo approaches the white lady, afraid that she will be Na Yong, but realises that it is actually Madam Jo.

He quickly gives chase and locates his dad before pulling out his gun. He realises that the purpose of his time-travel is to find his dad whom he has forgotten from his memories – he is devastated that his father would kill someone but Han claims that while whacking Jo was an accident, he definitely didn’t kill Go.


Han tries to use money to bribe Tae Joo into letting him go, but Tae Joo murmurs, “Are you going to run away for the rest of your life? Your wife and son don’t need that money. We’re just happy if you are by our side.” Convinced that Han will stop out of love for his family, Tae Joo quietly recites the charges on which he is arresting Han for, including suspicion of murder.

Han seemingly is defeated and puts out his hand to be cuffed, but as Tae Joo approaches him, Han finds a stone and whacks his head. He kicks Tae Joo aside and drops his friendly demeanour, “Are you a tick or what?” Tae Joo gets up and chases after his father, only to find him in an alteration with someone whom he is accusing of killing Go.

As his father runs towards him and him towards Han, the unknown guy pulls the trigger and Han falls to the ground…

…but Tae Joo gets pulled back a few seconds back again and he sees his father running towards him again. Despite running faster this time, he still cannot reach his dad in time, so he gets pulled back once more.

Tae Joo starts running faster in this third time and almost reaches his father, but alas, it is too late and his father falls once more. Watching Tae Joo running so desperately to save his father is quite heartbreaking.

-the end-

Despite there being multiple ‘time-lines’ of sorts, if you include the memories, I think that the execution is done pretty well and it is not confusing at all. Although I wish that Tae Joo did actually time-travel, it feels like the more logical conclusion at this point in time is that he is actually just filtering and remembering things in his 2018 subconscious? What do you think? Everything fits the idea of him being comatose and that he’s just going through things in his subconscious (meaning no time travel at all) but that will be slightly anti-climatic, not to mention the fact that 1988 characters can and do interact with him. The only way to truly test this out is when Tae Joo returns to 2018 and see if he can find traces of himself (or not) in archives or reports of cases from the station. Also, this theory might not hold water given that the young Tae Joo did not actually see the scene of his father being killed and therefore, this couldn’t have been knowledge hidden within the subconscious.

Up to this point, the fact that the two Tae Joos exist in one scene does not seem to upset any reality because Tae Joo hasn’t managed to change what happened in 1988. This is why the event unfolded almost the same way as it did in his memory. Remember how in his memory, it seems like there was someone chasing after the young Tae Joo? I always thought that it was his father, but it could very well be Na Yong or if they did a true time-travel, then the older Tae Joo. But in his memory, there was no one in front of him while in reality, his dad was in front of him. Wondering if that means something has indeed changed?

I just think that when you start messing around with the idea of the older self and the younger self co-existing, it can get out of hand especially when the older one changes the reality. And my mind gets trapped in this never-ending chicken-egg scenario – like who came first??

As usual, I like Jung Kyung Ho’s portrayal of Han Tae Joo. He has done a good job on welding the character, especially in the recent episodes where he has to show his discomfort, his disappointment and yet, trust and love for his father. Park Sung Woong also adds some fresh air to the bromance duo, which is much needed when the mood of the drama can get a bit down. I’ve never watched Ko Ah Sung before but I like how Na Yong is portrayed as such a three-dimensional character – shy, yet feisty.

I think we are reaching the point where the story is finally going to move ahead with “What’s Tae Joo’s purpose of being back here” and I’m eager to find out more. What do you think is the significance of the show focusing on the fact that Tae Joo dropped his gun while chasing his dad? Is it to show how he couldn’t have stopped the unknown guy by shooting at him (i thought he was kinda far away anyway), or would it be of significance later on?



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  1. Pingback: Thoughtsramble in 2018 | THOUGHTSRAMBLE

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