Signal episode 15 recap

Side dish: This episode may give you a case of the sads, so you’ll probably want some comfort food. My comfort food usually involves pasta, so here’s a recipe for Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese from Antonio Carluccio.

Episode Recap


Standing in the hallway of Injoo Hospital, cold case team leader, Cha Soo Hyun (Kim Hye Soo) demands that Park Hae Young (Lee Je Hoon) explains why the radio gives him contact with the past. Before Hae Young can say anything, the detectives from their precinct show up and arrest Hae Young for the murder of their section chief, Ahn Chi Soo (Jung Hae Kyun). Hae Young agrees to go quietly if they’ll show him the files from the death of his brother, but they just drag him away.

Meanwhile, in the year 2000, detective Lee Jae Han (Jo Jin Woong) races towards Injoo to save Hae Young’s brother, Sun Woo (Kang Chan Hee), who will be murdered in about an hour. Back at home, Sun Woo answers the door, believing that Jae Han has come, but when he opens it, it turns out to be corrupt cop, Kim Bum Joo (Jang Hyun Sung).


In flashback, we see Bum Joo hear about Sun Woo’s visit to the Injoo Precinct looking for Jae Han from Chi Soo. Back at his home, Sun Woo is initially mistrustful, but Bum Joo convinces him that Jae Han sent him in his stead, since he was injured. In the end, Sun Woo tells him everything, about how Jang Tae Jin was the real culprit, and that he had the red scarf that proves it. When Bum Joo asks Sun Woo if he’ll ever give up on proving his innocence, Sun Woo replies that he wants his family back together, so he won’t. As Jae Han continues to race to Injoo, Bum Joo drugs Sun Woo’s tea. In flashback, we see Bum Joo promise to take care of Jang Tae Jin’s case, in exchange for Tae Jin’s uncle, Congressman Jang Young Chul (Son Hyun Joo) taking care of his internal affairs investigation.

In the present, Hae Young is put into a holding cell, begging to see his brother’s case file the whole time. In the lockup, as Hae Young prays for Sun Woo to be saved and the past to be changed, he flashes back to his happy times with Sun Woo, then to finding Sun Woo dead. Meanwhile, Jae Han arrives at their home, only to find the police and the neighbours milling about. He’s too late to save Sun Woo.

Things happened exactly as Hae Young remembered them, but this time, Jae Han is there watching the scene at the hospital as Hae Young and his mother cry over the dead Sun Woo. Meanwhile, Bum Joo walks away with the red scarf.


In the present, Hae Young is having the worst interrogation ever as he not only discovers that Sun Woo wasn’t saved, but that, thanks to witnesses and a bloody knife with his fingerprints on it, there’s a solid case against him. The interrogating officer asks Hae Young what he was doing at Injoo Hospital the second time, and Hae Young tells him that he was looking into the files that Chi Soo had been searching for. The interrogating officer doesn’t believe him, and accuses him of returning to destroy the evidence of his crime. Hae Young can only repeat that it wasn’t him. Meanwhile, back in his own office, Bum Joo is smugly satisfied with having successfully framed both Sun Woo and Hae Young. Meanwhile, Soo Hyun sits in her car with the radio, and waits for another transmission to come.

Back in the past, Jae Han bursts into Bum Joo’s office, as Bum Joo cleans up a cut on his hand. Jae Han tells him that Sun Woo wouldn’t have committed suicide because he had evidence that cleared him of Hae Seung’s rape. But, Jae Han couldn’t find it in the house, which meant that someone killed Sun Woo and took the evidence. Jae Han adds that the internal affairs investigation against Bum Joo has ended with him being cleared despite considerable evidence. When Bum Joo tells him to get out, Jae Han angrily asks him how he could do that to a kid who was just trying to get his family together. In the end, Jae Han is dragged from the office as a shaken Bum Joo looks on.


At home that night, Jae Han waits for the transmission to come, and when it does, he immediately starts apologizing to Hae Young for not being able to save Sun Woo, for being distracted by other things (the other things being protecting Soo Hyun with her injured foot). It’s Soo Hyun that answers, though, and she can’t believe it’s him. In tears, she tells him that she waited 15 years for him, but he came back to her dead. She tells him not to go to Sunil Psychiatric Hospital on August 3rd, but the radio clicks off before she can tell him why. A tearful Jae Han writes down the name of the hospital.

Still in the past, the next day, Soo Hyun gets into the precinct to find a gift box on her desk. She opens it to find a watch, but when she looks for Jae Han, she discovers that he’s requested a transfer to Ilsan Precinct. Soo Hyun runs out the door to confront Jae Han, and gives him the watch back when he doesn’t respond. Jae Han puts the watch in her hands, and tells her to stay safe. In tears, Soo Hyun asks if this is about what she said before, and Jae Han tells her that a detective has to stay focused. He lets go of her hands, and leaves.


In the present, Soo Hyun goes to Hae Young’s cell, and asks him if there’s any way to save Jae Han. Hae Young has no idea what to do anymore, given how tangled up the situation has become. Soo Hyun tells him that she may have changed the past already, by telling Jae Han not to go to Sunil Psychiatric Hospital, but Hae Young tells her that Jae Han already knew not to go there, and went anyway. Soo Hyun is intent as she tells Hae Young that the key to both his own case and Jae Han’s murder must be gangster, Kim Sung Bum.

The next day, the detectives are clearing out Hae Young’s desk for the investigation. When they start prying into Soo Hyun’s desk, too, cold case team member, Kim Gye Chul (Kim Won Hae) tells them to back off. Instead, they question an unresponsive Soo Hyun as to why she was at Injoo Hospital at the same time as Hae Young. Gye Chul and cold case forensics expert, Jung Hun Ki (Lee Yoo Joon) step in to defend her, belligerently pointing out that as the cold case squad, they’re re-investigating the Injoo case.


Later, at a café, both Gye Chul and Hun Ki are suspicious of the way the case against Hae Young has panned out, pointing out that the witness statements are a little too convenient, and that Hae Young wouldn’t have left the weapon at the crime scene, even if he knew how to kill someone in one blow. Gye Chul points out the similarities to the way the Injoo case was set up as well. Soo Hyun tells them that the most likely suspect is Kim Sung Bum, since he was in Injoo the same day that Chi Soo was killed. She tells them about finding Jae Han’s remains in Sung Bum’s country house, and also, that Jae Han was investigating the Injoo case along with Chi Soo. The two men agree to look into Sung Bum’s whereabouts.

Soo Hyun visits Hae Young and hands him the list of possible locations for Sung Bum, but Hae Young is too discouraged to create a profile for him. Soo Hyun tells him that she’s discovered that they’re not the only ones looking for Sung Bum, that Bum Joo has sent people in search of him as well. Soo Hyun explains that since Bum Joo is the one that got Sung Bum out of police custody the first time, that likely Sung Bum has some information on Bum Joo, which makes Bum Joo vulnerable. Likely, Bum Joo wants to be rid of Sung Bum before the cops get him, a fact of which Sung Bum is also aware.

In fact, Sung Bum is already aware of someone following him, and he heads over to a phone booth to make a phone call. As he does, we see that the phone booth is in Bucheon.


Back at the police station, a newly energized Hae Young asks Soo Hyun which parts of the country are most likely. Soo Hyun gives him two options, one of which is Bucheon. Suddenly, Hae Young remembers the unknown phone calls that he’s been getting from Bucheon, and makes a leap that Sung Bum is calling the only cop he knows that for sure is not in league with Bum Joo.

Soo Hyun gets Hae Young’s cell phone out of the lockup, and brings it to him. He surreptitiously checks it to see multiple calls from an unknown number in Bucheon. He checks his messages to find one from Sung Bum instructing him to meet at the parking lot of the Sanghwa Building on January 19th at 11pm. Soo Hyun tells him that she’ll go to arrest him, but Hae Young points out that Sung Bum will run if he doesn’t see Hae Young there. Soo Hyun hands him a handcuff key, then overrides his protests about her helping him.


When the detectives come to transport Hae Young to prison, he takes advantage of their distraction in the van to slip out of his handcuffs and jump out of the car. Hae Young runs through the streets with the detectives hot on his heels, then gets into a car with Soo Hyun at the driver’s seat. They drive off with moments to spare.

As they drive away, Hae Young asks Soo Hyun if she’ll be all right with the entire Seoul Metro police force after her, but Soo Hyun doesn’t care; she wants to find out why and how Jae Han died, so she can save him.


Back in the year 2000, Jae Han is in the Ilsan precinct, where he gets an envelope from the National Institute of Forensic Sciences in Brooklyn. At the same time, we’re back at the first episode with a young Hae Young standing outside of the school with his classmate Yoon Jung, who is about to go missing. Jae Han, meanwhile, makes a call to prosecutor, Oh Jae Sung, telling him that he has evidence against Bum Joo for murder. Jae Han opens the envelope to look at the forensic tests on Hae Seung’s red scarf.

Just as he’s about to leave to meet with the prosecutor, a call comes in that Yoon Jung has gone missing and the whole office swings into gear. Jae Han ends up putting the envelope into his desk and getting to work on the case, instead.


In the present, Hae Young meets with Sung bum. Sung Bum immediately demands to know if he came alone, but Hae Young instead wants to know what the evidence relates to. Sung Bum is impatient with this question, since there’s only one crime for which the statute of limitations doesn’t run out, and that’s murder. Before Sung Bum can continue, though, Soo Hyun appears and trains her gun on Sung Bum. Sung Bum makes a break for it, but Hae Young chases him down and cuffs him. Hae Young tells him that he can trust Soo Hyun, but Sung Bum isn’t interested; he knows that Bum Joo would have had them followed.

When Soo Hyun asks him about Jae Han, Sung Bum initially plays dumb, but finally spits out that Jae Han died for no reason.

Back in the year 2000, Bum Joo and a team of detectives from the Seoul Metro station arrive to take over Yoon Jung’s kidnapping case. When a blackmail letter arrives, Bum Joo sends everyone to check out the café where it says to meet, leaving him alone in the office. As Jae Han goes off to the café on what we know is a fool’s errand (from the first couple of episodes), Bum Joo surreptitiously goes through his desk, and finds the envelope with the evidence against him.

In the present, Soo Hyun demands to know why Jae Han died for no reason, and Sung Bum explains that it was because Jae Han wouldn’t let go of a certain case. When a stricken Hae Young asks if it was Sun Woo’s case, Sung Bum confirms that it’s true.


In the past, in a deserted warehouse with Chi Soo and Sung Bum, Bum Joo tells an injured and tied up Jae Han that the prosecutor he spoke to had betrayed him. He tells Jae Han to let the case go, that he’ll let him live if he does. Instead, Jae Han breaks free of the ropes, only to run straight into Sung Bum, who stabs him. Jae Han gets away, but injured, in the woods, he ends up falling down, unable to go on. Jae Han takes out the radio, and sends his last transmission, telling Hae Young never to give up, that the past can be changed.

It’s not long before Chi Soo arrives, followed by Sung Bum. As Sung Bum wipes Jae Han’s blood off his hands with a handkerchief (how dainty!), a trembling Chi Soo shoots Jae Han.

In the present, Hae Young realizes that Jae Han died because of Hae Young telling him to look into Sun Woo’s case, and not to give up. As Hae Young breaks down in tears, Soo Hyun turns her attention away from Sung Bum to tell him to get it together. Sung Bum takes the opportunity to run for it, and Soo Hyun takes off after him. Before she can get to him, though, a car comes out of nowhere and runs him down. As Soo Hyun goes chasing after the car, Hae Young tries to revive an unresponsive Sung Bum. She shoots the tires, and when the car comes to a halt, Soo Hyun takes the driver out. Hae Young is running towards the car when Soo Hyun gets distracted by someone else in the car, and ends up fighting the driver. The driver knocks the gun out of Soo Hyun’s hand, then picks it up and aims it at her.


Hae Young is still running towards Soo Hyun, and as the driver shoots, Hae Young throws himself in front of her. As Soo Hyun runs to the bleeding Hae Young, calling his name, the driver throws the gun and runs away. When Soo Hyun tries to call for an ambulance, he tells her to use the radio to save Jae Han instead, and passes out, as she calls his name. In the past, Jae Han’s eyes close as he dies.


I feel like I missed something. I know that Soo Hyun and Hae Young knew that Bum Joo wasn’t the best cop, and that he’d fixed cases before, but I didn’t follow the leap of logic that Soo Hyun took to suddenly name Bum Joo as their nemesis in this situation.

Anyway, I don’t have much to say, because frankly, I just want to know what happens next. I do want to mention that I was pretty sad that they couldn’t save Sun Woo, especially with how devastated both Hae Young and Jae Han were as a result. And, I can’t see how this ends well for Jae Han either. What can they tell him that he’ll actually listen to? Please stop investigating this case? Leave Bum Joo alone? Run away to South America? I suspect Jae Han will do what Jae Han does regardless.

As for Hae Young, from the preview, it looks like he survives this episode, but what will the fallout be, for both him and Soo Hyun? I can’t wait to find out.

Signal (시그널)


 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 || series review

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