Nam Ye Ri doing some casual research at the crime scene.
Ten (2011) - Episode 3: The Visit From Strangers
by Sara

Episode 3 of Special Crime Force TEN is as much a humdinger as the first two. The mystery is a good one, and better yet, we get to know the team a little more. If I wasn't excited about this series before (and I was -- oh, I so was) I certainly would be now. (If nothing else, there's this charming shot of Nam Ye Ri lying in a pool of blood. Why? Because she's Nam Ye Ri. And I all but bust a gut laughing at Min Ho's reaction to seeing her there.)
I can't say that this episode threw me for a loop like the first two, inasmuch as the killer was concerned; it wasn't so easy a brain teaser that I had it pegged the first time the character was introduced, but I didn't gasp when it was revealed, either. But like I've said before, the joy of a crime drama isn't always in the "whodunit," although that's certainly a bonus, but rather in watching the detectives slough through the clues. 

The showrunners didn't leave their characters at the door, either, which I was doing handstands over -- I'm already in love with this cast, and I'd be nine kinds of furious if they left all that potential in the lurch. The lead detective was given some depth and shadow -- not a lot, more like a light cross-hatching, but enough to leave you wanting more. Nam Ye Ri was still sweet and empathic, Baek Do Shik was still unerringly genius, and Park Min Ho still clueless. 

There was a lovely moment where Ji Hoon, the fearless leader, showed exactly how fearless he was -- he orders Ye Ri to stay in the house all night, the house where four people were killed, and to stay there, moreover, with the suspects. Granted, the "suspects" thus far consisted of an ancient grandma with Alzheimer's and her caretaker, but to say an old person can't be dangerous is just naive. Baek Do Shik calls him on it; you never, ever send a detective out into the field without backup. Ji Hoon more or less says that if Ye Ri can't take on a grandma, she doesn't deserve her job anyway, and that's that -- until things come full circle, and Ji Hoon is facing off with a grandma himself, and Baek Do Shik, rather than rush to his aid, instead lets Ji Hoon wallow in the situation a bit.

Granted, this resulted in some unhappy circumstances, but it felt like sweet justice, and vaguely as if Baek Do Shik were protecting Ye Ri. Whether he was doing this on principle, or because he feels he needs to protect her, is still unclear -- but now we know where the lines are drawn. Ji Hoon is willing to take risks with his team if he's in control of the variables (which is a fallacy if I've ever heard one) and Baek Do Shik is not. Fingers crossed that this comes up later, and has all the melodramatic flair a girl could want.

And, of course, Ye Ri is the one who breaks the case, and Ji Hoon praises her by saying she "surpassed expectations" -- which sounds like a backward compliment to me. I can't forget the fact that he kept Baek Do Shik in the first episode and rejected her out of hand. Baek Do Shik has a long-standing reputation, and he's proven his street cred by arriving in Seoul only two days after the first murder. But Ye Ri's accomplishments aren't even looked into; it's assumed that she'll have no more part in the investigation. I love her for not balking at this, and merely continuing her work in silence, but it speaks to a blind spot in Ji Hoon's sensibilities.

He's not ignorant, though, and I know he was impressed by her ability as a human lie detector, and he used her suggestions when they warranted it. When she called Baek Do Shik with more case-breaking information, he didn't question it -- he had that much faith in her abilities, anyway. 

I have to say this about the episode, too: it was original. If not completely original, reasonably so. I haven't seen it a hundred times before, and I've seen my fair share of crime dramas, and read my fair share of mysteries. And it was so firmly rooted in human emotion; not the easy sell of money, but the dark underbelly of human desires and aspirations. The most successful crime dramas rely on the human quotient to carry the stories -- not plot, not explosions, not astronomical budgets, but human beings and their motivations and desires.

And as a special bonus, Min Ho's face when he realizes that's actually not a dead body lying on the floor:


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