The Scarred Hand
Episode 4 of Jirisan begins in 2020. On the mountain, Da-won checks the rock arrangement she made for Yi-gang and gets the memory card from the motion sensor camera. She notices the stick that Hyun-jo moved as crows flock in the sky above her and heavy clouds roll in. Hyun-jo tries to speak to her, but she is frightened and bolts, passing through his outstretched hand. We cut to the hospital next where his body is trembling, and a bruise has formed on that same hand.
At the station Yi-gang has gathered the daily log files from various years and carted them back to her room to study. A pattern becomes obvious: the days on which terrible incidents and disappearances occurred correspond to the days Dae-jin was off work. Checking Hyun-jo’s notebook, she also confirms that Dae-jin was off work on the day that Hyun-su died.
Yi-gang’s room door starts to rattle violently, but she can’t see anyone’s legs through the large vent. Da-won runs to Yi-gang’s room but didn’t see anyone outside when she got there. Da-won shows Yi-gang photos of the new stick placement along with even more starling footage of the stick moving by itself.
The new stick placement points to Sumgol Rock and Yi-gang wastes no time issuing an SOS alert to the rangers on duty, pretending that she received a distress call from a hiker in that location. Two teams hurry over and find a man seizing and foaming from the mouth. It’s the exact scene that Hyun-jo’s vision depicted in the last episode. A helicopter is called, and the man is taken to hospital.
At the hospital Woong-soon tells Yi-gang that the survivor drank yogurt that he found by a stream. Upon hearing this, Yi-gang remembers Hyun-jo’s insistence that the gloved man placed the Common Rustgill in Granny Geum-rye’s bag to cover his tracks and poisoned Private Ahn to the same end.
Yi-gang questions the survivor on the yogurt, but he has no new information, instead ranting about seeing the ghost that marks people for death. He says that he originally thought the ghost was a ranger because it wore their insignia, and after he describes the ghost’s attire, Yi-gang gets up a photo of her and Hyun-jo in their snow suits. The survivor is completely spooked, pointing out Hyun-jo as the ghost.
We go back to 2018 where Yi-gang brings Hyun-jo to the Endangered Species Restoration Centre to help Yoon Soo-jin, one of the staff there. One of the microchipped Korean rat snakes that was part of an ecological study has dropped off the radar and Soo-jin wants them to look for it while on patrol, but Yi-gang has a better idea.
Yi-gang and Hyun-jo change out of their uniforms and head to a health foods store to suss out whether the couple running it are illegally harvesting the snakes. After confirming her suspicions, they stake out the place in Soo-jin’s car, carrying the antenna needed to pick up the microchip’s signal.
While they wait, Hyun-jo asks Soo-jin if it’s possible that someone has been extracting poison from the Common Rustgill mushrooms. Soo-jin says it’s possible, but the person would need knowledge of the extraction method and their location, leaving the rangers as the only suspects.
Before Hyun-jo can delve deeper, the couple closes their store and drives off in their truck. Our trio follows closely behind them and soon the antenna starts picking up a signal. They end up at a warehouse, and while they question whether to wait for the police, Yi-gang goes wild and storms in herself. Inside are heaps upon heaps of endangered snakes.
The police are called to confiscate the snakes. When they’re done, Yi-gang and Hyun-jo also head out, although they are watched by someone. The unknown person takes off their black glove to reveal five scars scratched into their hand. That night Hyun-jo dreams of the scarred hand placing an oval object onto a mossy stone and then of blood dripping from foliage.
The following day Hyun-jo and Yi-gang head into a particularly difficult restricted area to investigate what he saw in his dream. They come across an old graveyard where Hyun-jo spots the mossy stone. The oval object is absent, and though the pair search for it, they find nothing.
When they finally give up and leave, the health foods couple enters the area, preparing to catch more snakes to pay the fine they copped for catching snakes. While they are preoccupied, the scarred hand places the oval object onto the mossy stone. The husband comes across it, and when he picks it up it explodes, leaving his blood splattered on the surrounding foliage. Hyun-jo and Yi-gang run back at the sound of the explosion. They find the wife screaming over her husband’s mangled body.
Later at the station, Soo-jin explains to the rangers that the oval object was an overlooked potato bomb used by poachers in the 60s and 70s. Hyun-jo interjects, telling the group that he and Yi-gang searched the area and found nothing. This fact disturbs Dae-jin, who says that the situation is worse now that a person has died because of their supposed mistake.
A cacophony of car horns breaks the morose silence that follows. The group goes outside to find the deceased’s wife and family, accompanied by angry villagers carting his casket, organising a sit-in. The wife is hysterical, blaming Yi-gang, Hyun-jo, and the rangers for her husband’s death. A journalist photographs the tense scene.
At Jirisan National Park Jeonbuk Office Dae-jin, the Chief, and some officials discuss what needs to be done now that the situation has spiralled, and newspapers have begun to publicise it. The Chief decides to take responsibility and resign.
At the deceased’s funeral, Hyun-jo describes the scarred hand to Yi-gang and proclaims that he won’t stop until he finds the person that did this.
Hyun-jo pays Soo-jin a visit after calling in sick while the others help set up a townhall meeting to discuss the potato bombs. From his questioning he finds out that the bomb must have been from the 60s/70s because the parts to make it are no longer available, and that the bombs found after the mountain became a national park were destroyed. He finally gets a usable lead when Soo-jin tells him that some of the workers who helped with the bomb removal project kept bombs as souvenirs.
Gu-yeong is getting drinks for the townhall meeting with Lee Yang-sun, who is his long-time crush, and another Haedong Station ranger. He starts to ask her out, but she is obviously distracted. In a flashback we see her entering a shed and finding someone, whose face is obscured, grabbing a bunch of potato bombs. Just as Gu-yeong finishes his confession, she apologises and runs off.
Hyun-jo, having followed a trail of bomb removal workers, ends up at an old man’s residence. The man is insistent that he doesn’t know anything, but lets it slip that the bombs he kept have disappeared. He leads Hyun-jo to the shed from Yang-sun’s memory and explains that he didn’t report them missing because of his granddaughter.
Meanwhile at the townhall, villagers start arriving. Yi-gang is tasked with handing out pamphlets, which everyone rejects, until one is accepted by a scarred hand.
At the same time Hyun-jo sees a family picture with Yang-sun in the old man’s home. We cut to Yang-sun who is out on the mountain desperately searching for something. We then return to Hyun-jo, who zones in on a young man in the picture with Yang-sun.
Yi-gang enters the townhall, her eyes glued to the man with the scarred hand. He turns back to find her staring and it’s obvious he’s the man from the picture. As he gives Yi-gang a self-satisfied smirk the episode draws to a close.
The Episode Review
Well, the glaring neon arrow pointing to Dae-jin has morphed into a mountain-sized billboard. With the reveal of the man-with-the-scarred-hand’s relation to Yang-sun, there’s now also a plausible connection between him and Dae-jin.
Speaking of the man with the scars, let’s take a moment to talk about his classic K-drama villain smirk. It would have been nice to see the character played with a bit more nuance, because along with his smiles from the last episode, he’s coming across more like a caricature than anything else.
Right now, there’s not much going for him to keep us interested, besides his penchant for murder of course. Now that Yang-sun is in the picture this could change, or if he’s working with Dae-jin, maybe we only have to be invested in the mastermind himself.
On another note, it’s interesting to see that Hyun-jo’s body is impacted by his actions as a ghost. Now he has still got more to lose by staying involved.
This week’s episodes have kept the faster pacing going in the 2018 timeline. 2020 is moving a bit slower, but that’s most likely so that we get a chance to catch up to Yi-gang’s knowledge of the past before everything hits the fan. And, if we stay on this path, it’s definitely going to.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|