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Circle: Episode 6

Memories are at the crux of this drama, both in a literal and figurative sense, and especially so for a couple of key characters this episode. For Jung-yeon, it’s a source of identity crisis and a question of whom to trust, while in 2037, it’s an unwanted burden that pushes Ho-soo to the edge in his desperation to be rid of them. But at what cost? Is someone’s right to remember more important than someone else’s right to forget?

EPISODE 6 RECAP

Little Woo-jin and Bum-gyun enter their home one Sunday to find their dad hurrying out to work. They wander into another room, where Byul stands with her back to them. When asked what she’s doing, she hands Woo-jin the Bluebird storybook.

Woo-jin thinks she wants him to read it again, and Bum-gyun gets annoyed that a full-grown adult can’t speak or read. Woo-jin defends her, saying that she doesn’t know Earth’s languages yet, when suddenly Byul says: “Bluebird.” As the boys look at her in surprise, she points to the book and repeats the words, as if testing out how it sounds.

Part 1: Beta Project

Jung-yeon smashes the star and finds a rolled-up note with “Byul ♥ Woo-jin” written on it. Stunned, she falls back into the seat and looks at her reflection. Tears streak down her face as she asks: “What… am I?”

Woo-jin chases after the ambulance with all his might, but gets left behind on the road. Returning to the hospital, he tells Chief Hong about the ambulance, and Hong immediately calls in the license plate number. But then Min-young, who’d recognized the bluebird logo on the vehicle, makes the connection and realizes that it wasn’t an ambulance but a blood donation van.

She takes out her phone and shows Woo-jin the selfies she’d taken after donating blood in front of that same van. Woo-jin recognizes one of the students entering the van in the background—she was the first to die by jumping off the roof. Min-young confirms that the girl had nosebleeds and headaches before her death… much like Min-young herself.

Woo-jin realizes then that the bluebird his brother had referred to was the van. But then, Chief Hong gets a report from his station about the vehicle: It was scrapped earlier that year, so it no longer exists in the system.

Meanwhile, Jung-yeon is still reeling from the Byul discovery and sits curled up in a ball, looking frightened. Her phone lights up with a call from “Dad,” and she doesn’t look inclined to pick up.

Chief Hong asks if they have any more information for him, and says that the pen in Professor Han’s possession isn’t enough to start an investigation on. Min-young begins to tell him about Jung-yeon, but is silenced by Woo-jin.

Once they’re alone, Min-young yells at him for stopping her from revealing the Professor’s alien connection. Woo-jin points out that if they started talking about those things, they would lose Chief Hong’s trust. Min-young huffs in frustration that they missed Bum-gyun by a few minutes.

Woo-jin sighs that she’s better than him, since he didn’t believe his own brother until he saw things with his own eyes. He assures her that they’ll find Bum-gyun since they now have a clue. He smiles a little and says that he shares a telepathic connection with his brother since they’re twins. He bids her goodnight, then spends all night wandering the streets looking for Bum-gyun.

Woo-jin ends up at Eunsung Mental Hospital again in the morning, and pushes past the police tape into the room where Bum-gyun was confined. And this time, he notices a CCTV in one corner, blinking red.

At the police station, Chief Hong’s skeptical partner tells him that none of the CCTVs inside the hospital are working, and none of the cameras on the streets caught sight of the van last night. Hong orders him to look into the person who modified the blood donation van, since that is their only lead right now.

Woo-jin visits the police station, and Chief Hong tells him that Eunsung never employed Professor Han. Woo-jin asks for the hospital’s employee roster, saying that he’ll go meet each person individually. Chief Hong notes Woo-jin’s exhausted face and clothes from last night and asks if he’s eaten yet. Promising to meet the employees himself, he tells Woo-jin to go rest.

Woo-jin finally goes back to his apartment and finds Jung-yeon waiting for him in the hallway. Jung-yeon hands him the note she found inside the star and says in a scared little voice, “I think I’m Byul.”

She apologizes, but Woo-jin says flatly that she shouldn’t be sorry since she didn’t know anything. She says she’s sorry for not knowing, and he replies that she’s just here to make excuses for being innocent.

He turns to go in, and Jung-yeon stops him, asking plaintively, “What do I do now?” She realizes that he was right about her being an alien, but doesn’t know what to do next.

Woo-jin’s eyes fill with angry tears as he flings the same words back at her. He asks what he should do now that the girl he wanted to trust turns out to be an alien, and his brother, whom he didn’t want to believe, is missing because of him.

After that outburst, Woo-jin calms down and lets her come in. She tells that “bluebird” was the first word she spoke when she awoke from her coma three years ago. In flashback, we see Professor Han asking rather eagerly if she really doesn’t remember anything, then telling her that she’s his daughter Han Jung-yeon.

In the present, Jung-yeon asks what happened to Byul and how she (Jung-yeon) ended up without her memories. Woo-jin says that his dad had left for a trip overseas, telling them that he would drop her off at a facility on his way. That was the last time he saw either of them. He shows her a picture of his dad, but Jung-yeon doesn’t recognize him.

They sit quietly together for a long time, until Woo-jin brings up Professor Han. He says that her “dad” has all the answers they’re looking for and asks for her help in investigating the man. Jung-yeon realizes that after all that, Woo-jin still trusts her, and tearfully thanks him for it.

Bum-gyun wakes up in the basement of a building with a barred door. He remembers Woo-jin running after the van, then gets sudden pain in his head, accompanied by a nosebleed. Oh no, this is too soon! Then he notices the CCTV cameras in the room and angrily throws objects at them.

Professor Han watches this footage on his laptop, sitting in his office, and sees the camera finally fall from one of Bum-gyun’s shots. He hisses in frustration, then shuts the laptop as soon as Professor Park and Sunbae Lee walk in. Han gives Sunbae Lee an address and his car keys and asks him to pick up something he’d left there.

Professor Park gets suspicious and gets into the car with Lee, asking to be dropped off on the way. Suddenly “recalling” that he left his bag back in the office, he sends Sunbae Lee to fetch it, and takes advantage of his absence to copy down the address he’d just keyed into the GPS system. Noting the area, Park gets a speculative look on his face and wonders what Professor Han is up to.

One of Eunsung Hospital’s employees tells Chief Hong that she doesn’t recognize Professor Han as having worked there. She mentions some odd rumors floating around the hospital before it closed, though she emphasizes that they were groundless. Chief Hong asks to hear them anyway, and is told of patients claiming to be subject to experiments, seeing ghosts, and even a death in the basement.

Chief Hong meets with one of the patients who spoke about being experimented upon and shows him Han’s picture, asking if this was the man who conducted the experiments. But the man is unresponsive and just sits there blankly, and the nurse tells him that the patient hasn’t spoken in a year.

Chief Hong sees that he’s not likely to get a response, and turns to leave the room… just as the patient says, “It wasn’t him.” Chief Hong turns back intently, eager to hear more.

While the professor is out, Jung-yeon tries a ring of keys on his locked office until one of them opens the door, letting them inside to search. They don’t know exactly what they’re looking for, but they hurry inside to rifle through the desk and bookshelves for clues.

But Professor Han arrives home soon after, and they don’t seem to hear him. He’s speaking to Jung-yeon’s therapist on the phone, who sighs that they must recover Jung-yeon’s lost memories quickly, because Byul knows the secret to the Stable Care System. Han clarifies that what they need to find are the memories that were suppressed, and his associate emphasizes the need to hurry, because the experiment comes with serious side effects. He grumbles, “If only that jerk hadn’t done that to Byul, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Suddenly, he hears a noise from his office. Woo-jin and Jung-yeon freeze as a book from the shelf falls to the ground. When Woo-jin picks it up, something slips out from the pages. It’s a plastic-wrapped picture of Professor Han at the entrance of Eunsung Hospital.

Just then, Professor Han enters the office and Woo-jin quickly hides the picture. When asked what they’re doing here, Jung-yeon nervously makes the excuse that she’d brought Woo-jin to look at the books in his office and apologizes for coming in without permission. She and Woo-jin sweat under her father’s scrutiny, and he looks at Woo-jin through narrowed eyes. But then he offers to pick out books for Woo-jin, and they relax to have him buy their story.

The two get back to Woo-jin’s apartment, and he shows Jung-yeon the picture. Taking it out of the plastic, he says that it’s decisive evidence that Han was involved with the hospital. There are other pictures behind the first one though, and they look through them until suddenly, Woo-jin pauses at one.

Meanwhile at the hospital, Chief Hong presses the patient for the identity of the man who conducted experiments, asking if it was Professor Han. He’s stunned when the man corrects him with a different name: “Kim Gyu-chul!”

Woo-jin stares at the photo, wondering, “Dad?… That’s my dad!” In the picture along with Professor Han is his very own father. Woo-jin looks up at Jung-yeon in shock and confusion: “Why is my dad here?”

Part 2: Brave New World

The penthouse sanctum of Human B’s chairman is breached, and as the security staff scans each room for an intruder, Jung-yeon walks easily into his office, dressed as one of the staff.

She plants a bug on his personal computer, and on her way out, she pauses as her eyes fall on something.

Back at her lair, her eyes widen as she goes through some data and comes across the picture of Woo-jin in 2022.

This was a month ago. Now, Jung-yeon walks into Joon-hyuk’s office and says that Woo-jin is in Smart Earth. He asks her if the chairman has Woo-jin and who the chairman could be. It makes Jung-yeon think of the chairman in his penthouse, and she seems to think one thing and then decide to say something else—merely that she’s looking into it.

Then Jung-yeon gets a notification on her phone and taps an icon to get first person view from Ho-soo’s eyes. Ah, she’s hacked into the system (to his chip?) to keep tabs on him.

So, by the time Ho-soo runs back to the Investigation Unit with Secretary Shin at his heels, Jung-yeon and Joon-hyuk have disappeared. Ho-soo instantly realizes that Bluebird has been monitoring his movement.

He puts his hand on the table, and the surface changes to become a screen with a monitor that shows his own face. Speaking directly to Jung-yeon, he tells her that she has no right to criticize Human B when she fools around with people’s memories herself.

He gets a splitting headache and has to run to the washroom. Ho-soo tries to take a pill for it but drops it in the sink with shaking hands. He throws the box of pills in anger, and his chips lights up to calm him. It can’t make the headache go away though, and Ho-soo bend over in pain.

Suddenly, a memory surfaces and he envisions himself running into a room, calling out his girlfriend’s name in panic. Then he stops and his face twists in grief as he registers her body hanging from the ceiling. As he breaks down in the past, his present self weeps with remembered pain.

Secretary Shin reports that Bluebird was monitoring Ho-soo’s memory. That means Joon-hyuk knows that Ho-soo’s reporting to them, thus making Ho-soo a liability.

Ho-soo barges into the office and asks one more time for his memories to be blocked. His voice raises as he calls this his right as a Smart Earth citizen, and his desperation is palpable. So Deputy Chief Lee is forced to admit one additional detail: that they actually can’t block his memories at the moment, because Bluebird locked the process when she unblocked the memories, and they’ve been unable to crack the code.

At this, Ho-soo despairs, “How long will I have to live like this?” Lee tells him that the fastest solution is to find Bluebird. Ho-soo takes a deep breath and asks for his Care Chip to be completely disconnected from the system, since that’s the only way to keep Bluebird from monitoring his memories.

Deputy Chief Lee warns that disabling the chip will isolate Ho-soo from Human B and they won’t be able to protect him any more. Ho-soo says bitterly that the most dangerous thing has already happened to him.

After he leaves, Secretary Shin worries whether they’ll be okay to let him do this, pointing out that Ho-soo had undergone psychiatric treatment for his trauma before the memories were removed. Lee just says that that will make him more desperate to ensure they’ll be blocked again.

At an undisclosed location, Joon-hyuk asks Jung-yeon why it’s her, here now, and not Woo-jin. She asks if hej.. got his memories back, since the last time she’d seen him, he had no recollection of who he was. Joon-hyuk says that he has no memories of his own, and learned everything about himself by going through Woo-jin’s memory footage.

He adds that he noticed how Woo-jin had always looked at Jung-yeon. So why is she alone now, instead of being with him? Jung-yeon just stares at him as tears rolls down her cheeks.

Detective Ha grills Chief Hong on Joon-hyuk’s relationship with Bluebird, complaining that he’s the only one in the dark. Noting that he’s also got something with Min-young, he grumbles that Joon-hyuk’s been busy romancing alongside working. Chief Hong gets a call from his superior who asks why Minister Park is running background checks on Joon-hyuk.

Meanwhile, Joon-hyuk tells Jung-yeon about this minister, whom they had once known as Professor Park. He explains that Mayor Yoon has asked for his help, but Jung-yeon is distrustful of the man, since he was the last person Woo-jin spoke to before his disappearance.

Joon-hyuk remembers that in Woo-jin’s memory, Professor Park had helped them. So, despite Jung-yeon’s bad feeling about it, he insists that he has to meet the minister in person.

He says as much to Chief Hong in their VR chat, that Minister Park may know how to find Woo-jin. Chief Hong notes that there’s a lot about the minister that’s fishy, from his running of background checks to his willingness to go after Human B all of a sudden. Joon-hyuk shares those thoughts, and figures he’ll ask when he meets him in person. Chief Hong scoffs that Joon-hyuk isn’t important enough to meet a minister, but Joon-hyuk has his ways.

He starts by visiting the mayor, who’s initially unwilling to facilitate a meeting. So Joon-hyuk asks him to pass on a simple message: “I want to talk about Professor Kim Gyu-chul.”

The mayor says that he won’t ask questions now, but that that stance might change in the event of any problems. He also asks if keeping Ho-soo by his side is wise, but Joon-hyuk says he’ll take care of the matter.

Ho-soo monitors the Investigation Unit, and when Joon-hyuk leaves the room, he slips a transmitter into his jacket pocket. So when Joon-hyuk gets a text from Minister Park, asking to meet him in Ordinary Earth, Ho-soo and the Human B team follow.

As Joon-hyuk waits at the rendezvous spot, a homeless man walks up and hands him a note. It tells Joon-hyuk that the Human B team is nearby, and that the minister will contact him later. When Joon-hyuk leaves without meeting anyone, the Human B team realizes he must have caught on to them.

Ho-soo confronts the homeless man to demand the identity of the note-giver. They’re surprised to hear it was a man—not Bluebird, then—but the homeless man can’t offer any more helpful information. Looking eerie in his determination, Ho-soo orders Secretary Shin to insert a chip into the man, so they can go through his memory and see who gave him the note.

In exchange for hefty compensation, they gain the man’s permission to insert a chip and hook him up, whereupon Ho-soo scans through his memories. They come upon the scene where he was given the note to pass along, and everyone gapes to recognize the sender: Minister Park.

When they report this to Deputy Chief Lee, he murmurs that the minister is turning this into a big issue. Secretary Shin is concerned that while Bluebird is a rogue and can’t use legal means, Minister Park can end everything for them.

Ho-soo asks Lee if he’ll let this happen, and Lee asks Ho-soo if he’s truly willing to do anything to stop it. Emphasis on anything.

Soon thereafter, Ho-soo walks into the Investigation Unit, where Joon-hyuk sits alone recalling Jung-yeon’s warning that Ho-soo is completely disconnected from Human B—and therefore dangerous.

And sure enough, Ho-soo steps inside and levels a tranquilizer gun at Joon-hyuk, face determined. Joon-hyuk asks if inserting a chip and removing his memory is the best idea they could come up with. Ho-soo is clearly conflicted, but he cries that Joon-hyuk has to stop his investigation, because his surfacing memories are causing him immense pain.

Joon-hyuk rises carefully from his seat and says that he understands people, and Ho-soo isn’t the type to shoot him. Ho-soo grasps the gun harder and warns that Joon-hyuk is wrong about him. Joon-hyuk asks him not to do it, saying he doesn’t want to lose his memories again.

Ho-soo wrestles with his conscience, face twisted with tears and indecision, and finally lowers the gun. But all of a sudden, Joon-hyuk reels back from a shot and looks down at the dark sticking out of the chest. Secretary Shin stands at the door with a henchman holding a gun.

Joon-hyuk passes out, and the men carry him out of the room past Ho-soo, who looks conflicted. As they take him down to the garage, Jung-yeon records the scene and sends the clip to Chief Hong.

An unconscious Joon-hyuk is taken to an operating room and laid out on a table. Deputy Chief Lee enters with a doctor and gives the order to proceed, watching with a smirk on his face. The doctor picks up a scalpel and holds it to Joon-hyuk’s neck, ready to insert the chip. Noooo!

Just in the nick of time, Chief Hong rushes into the room with his cops, yelling for them to stop and holding out his badge. Lee’s men hold the detectives back, however, and Lee tells them that it’s illegal to enter Smart Earth without a warrant and therefore they have no jurisdiction.

So they can only watch helplessly as Lee orders the procedure to continue, and the doctor takes up his scalpel again and holds it to Joon-hyuk’s neck…

And then, another voice calls out, “Yes, it’s illegal.” It’s Minister Park, and he’s come with reinforcements in uniforms. He points out that by Smart Earth law, the chip cannot be inserted without the person’s consent. He scoffs at the deputy chief advertising Smart Earth as crime-free, only to do this. Lowering his speech, he addresses Lee with contempt, asking how he can still be acting like he used to as a student.

Chief Hong’s men arrest Deputy Chief Lee, Secretary Shin, and the rest, while Hong finally reaches Joon-hyuk’s side. Minister Park looks genuinely concerned as he looks at Joon-hyuk’s prone form.

When Joon-hyuk wakes up in Ordinary Earth, Min-young tells him that the minister wants to meet him as soon as possible. So Joon-hyuk heads over to the Smart Earth Investigation Unit, where he receives a visit from the minister, who studies Joon-hyuk’s face and asks if he is Woo-jin’s older brother. At Joon-hyuk’s confirmation, he breaks into a wide smile and asks how he’s been all these years. With real relief, he explains that he’d thought Joon-hyuk also disappeared back then, along with Woo-jin.

Joon-hyuk says that Minister Park was the last person to speak to Woo-jin, and the minister confirms that that’s true—yet he wasn’t the last person to see him. He’d been worried when he heard Woo-jin was going to meet Professor Han, but by the time he got there himself, Woo-jin had vanished.

Jung-yeon watches through the camera of Joon-hyuk’s laptop as he asks if Professor Han had kidnapped Woo-jin to start Human B, insistent that the professor is the Human B chairman. After all, Professor Han knew all the technologies needed to run Human B, because they were developed by his research team.

Minister Park becomes very still for a moment, then admits that there is a connection between Han’s research team and Human B. That’s why he’s been tracking down all the members of the research team—but two of them are untraceable: Professor Han and Woo-jin.

He explains that in 2022, there was a small, little-known investment presentation for Smart Earth, and that’s where he’d seen a twentysomething man. Minister Park shares his suspicion that Woo-jin may not have been a victim at all, but rather the mastermind behind Human B. What if Woo-jin disappeared intentionally and became the chairman?

Joon-hyuk shakes his head violently in denial, insisting that Woo-jin would never do that. But then Jung-yeon’s voice cuts in to say, “It is possible.”

She appears on the laptop screen, and Minister Park recognizes her instantly. Joon-hyuk asks what she means, and she shows them the picture of Woo-jin from 2022, and drops a bomb: It was taken in the Human B chairman’s office.

In flashback, we see that when Jung-yeon was planting something on the chairman’s computer, something had caught her eye on her way out. It was a painting on the wall — the same one hanging behind Woo-jin in the picture.

“I’m scared too,” says Jung-yeon. “I’m scared that Woo-jin could be the chairman.”

COMMENTS

Ha. I love how any time we have a theory about something, the show comes out and addresses it first. It’s a refreshing change from the usual practice of ignoring obvious conclusions until every character begins to look like an idiot. Not that our heroes in Brave New World have been particularly bright today.

Ho-soo and Deputy Chief Lee caught on to all of Joon-hyuk and Bluebird’s moves through impressive feats of deduction and good old surveillance, while Joon-hyuk pretty much walked into the tranquilizer dart situation. He might have been confident that Ho-soo wouldn’t hurt him, but how did he not anticipate Human B using some nefarious means to shut him up? Also, what was the point of pushing Ho-soo to make morally questionable choices, if Secretary Shin was going to go dart Joon-hyuk and take the matter off Ho-soo’s hands anyway?

But at least there is progress in the hunt for Woo-jin. It’s interesting that the character I dislike most in Part 1 is apparently a good guy in Part 2. I still don’t trust Minister Park—there’s something shady about the way the actor plays him—but it seems at least plausible that Woo-jin may have actively helped with the creation of the Stable Care System instead of just being a passive victim to Human B’s machinations. This would considerably deepen the mystery, since the Woo-jin we have come to know in Beta Project is not someone who would willingly take away another person’s right to remember. Woo-jin was idealistic in his ambition to give people suffering from trauma a choice, whereas the chairman clearly doesn’t care whose rights are violated, so long as Smart City remains crime-free.

I really love Chief Hong, too, because while his character was set up to be a little ridiculous, his diligence towards Bum-gyun’s case in Part 1 is one of the few things that’s going right for Woo-jin and Jung-yeon. It’s bad enough that they’re chasing dangerous conspiracies in an effort to find Bum-gyun, but it would have been worse if no one in a position of authority believed or helped them. As is so often the rule in these stories. Hong is clearly a competent detective, with a strong streak of loyalty, and I adore this show for making him such an excellent father figure for both boys spanning two timelines.

I really appreciated the moment when Joon-hyuk tells Jung-yeon that he learned about her through Woo-jin’s memories. It’s clear that Woo-jin’s fondness for her affected how Joon-hyuk sees Jung-yeon. He knows how paranoid Bum-gyun used to be about her, but he’s trusting Woo-jin’s perspective and therefore trusting Jung-yeon to help him find Woo-jin. There was also this poignant beat, where he asks why Woo-jin is not with her, when he used to look at her all the time. Woo-jin may have had feelings for Jung-yeon, but something pushed Woo-jin onto a different path. The mystery now is to find out if Woo-jin walked down that road willingly.

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