Seo Yi Gang (Gianna Jun) searches Branch Chief Jo’s desk drawers for a missing report requested by headquarters. She finds a bag of bloody yellow ribbons. She’s startled remembering the theory that the yellow ribbons didn’t indicate the way to the top of the mountain rather they were tied so a hiker would get lost.
Ranger Lee Da Won steps away from the trail to take some pictures. A hooded man steps in front of her. He has blood on his boot and his eyes are well hidden under his hood. She doesn’t see the man though she senses something. The moment is broken when Ranger Jung Goo Young calls her. She heads his way.
Was that a spirit man?
Ranger Lee shows Yi Gang the motion sensor camera she installed as well the rocks and marker per Yi Gang’s request. Yi Gang asks if Ranger Lee saw anything while up there. Ranger Lee assures her she did not.
Legend says there are ghosts on the mountain. Rumors say there is a grim reaper on the mountain. We see the spirit man that was near Ranger Lee. Images of the spirit man as he moves around the mountain. He sees a bottle going down the creek. He finds the rocks and marker Ranger Lee established. He adds to the marker. The motion camera moves put does it capture anything?
Yi Gang and Kang Hyun Jo (Ju Ji Hoon) help a stuck hiker. She explains she was praying for her son’s college endeavors as the mountain is supposed to have great energy. They lead the woman to safety. She’s grateful for their help and leaves.
A call comes in about illegal shaman conducting a ceremony. Hyun Jo is distracted for a moment then follows Yi Gang up the mountain again.
The rangers and researcher, Kim Sol, arrive and watch the ceremony. Yi Gang declares it is time to break up the ceremony. Ranger Jung teases Hyun Jo about the proper protocol. Yi Gang and the other rangers insert themselves and declare the ceremony is illegal. The participants aren’t happy but have no choice than to cease and detest. A young girl garbed in ceremonial clothes tells Hyun Jo he’s doomed to roam the mountains even when he’s dead. He’s taken aback. Kim Sol pulls a talisman from the water and tells Hyun Jo that this valley is the origin of the phrase go to the valley to die, as there have been many that never exited the valley alive. Kim Sol explains the energy is strong from the multiple historic moments in the valley that stacked up many dead. He explains human remains are still being found and stacked stone memorial markers are set up for those who died without a proper burial. Kim Sol states if there are ghosts on the mountain, this is their energy source, and shamans are drawn to the energy too. That resonates with Hyun Jo.
The rangers gather to drink after returning to the base of the mountain. They tease Yi Gang about her terrible test scores. Ranger Jung and Ranger Park notice she’s drunk a particular alcohol. She starts to walk home. Hyun Jo follows to ensure she gets there safely. Ranger Jung and RP shake their heads, noting they’ve all had to experience it.
Hyun Jo walks her home but she passes it. He asks why she became a ranger if she didn’t like the mountain. Yi Gang sits and tells her story. She was 6 when she first climbed the mountain. She details her mountain moments as she aged. She tosses her cookies then continues. She flew around the mountain rather than hike.
Flashback…A grandmother visits the stacked stone memorial markers to honor the dead. She offers food and pours the alcohol. She touches the ancient tree. She falls asleep.
The next day Ranger Jung teases Yi Gang’s litany of mountain memories when under the influence. Yi Gang grouses.
Hyun Jo has a vision. He sees stone markers, ribbons, and a dropped bottle of yogurt.
Ranger Jung gets the call that the grandmother hasn’t returned from her hike up the mountain.
A man watches the grandmother sleeping and place two bottles of yogurt at the stacked stones.
Yi Gang and Hyun Jo take off to find the grandmother. Yi Gang explains the grandmother lost her mother in the valley when she was young and often hikes to memorial markers to honor her mother. That catches Hyun Jo’s attention.
The grandmother wakes and sees the bottles of yogurt among the food.
Yi Gang and Hyun Jo arrive at the memorial markers and find the food. They see the bullets in the ancient tree. Yi Gang calls Ranger Jung and reports that the grandmother isn’t at the marker and the food offerings are still there, unusual as the grandmother typically tidies the memorial before leaving. Yi Gang picks up the photo of the grandmother and her mother. Yi Gang asks Ranger Jung to get the police involved. Yi Gang calls the grandmother’s phone but they don’t hear it ring. Yi Gang suggests they split up to search. Hyun Jo suggests a specific search location. Yi Gang asks if he’s had another vision. Hyun Jo insists zones exist in the world where strange things happen. She scoffs. Hyun Jo says he’ll go alone if she doesn’t believe in the possibility. Yi Gang sighs and leads the way.
When they arrive, they don’t’ find what they are looking for. Then soldiers on planned hike arrive. The lead solider, Lt Choi, recognizes Hyun Jo. The two men chat while the soldiers prepare camp. Yi Gang calls Ranger Jung who reports no one has seen the grandmother. Lt Choi asks if Hyun Jo became a ranger because of Sargent Kim, noting this was the spot the body was found. Hyun Jo ignores the question. He asks if the soldiers saw a grandmother. One of the men shares he fell behind his fellow soldiers and saw a man looking in a pink backpack. Yi Gang shows the soldier a picture of the grandmother with her pink backpack. The solider confirms the one he saw was similar. He points out the probable location on a map. Yi Gang and Hyun Jo take off. The solider that claimed to see the man later drinks a bottle of yogurt.
Yi Gang and Hyun Jo find the pink backpack. It is filled with poisonous mushrooms. Yi Gang worries the grandmother might have eat some and be hallucinating.
The grandmother stumbles through the forest. She believes she sees a fire with many villages at the edge. The villagers are shot down systematically. The grandmother grabs her head to stop the vision. Yi Gang calls the grandmother again. She hears the phone. A woman in her vision (her mother?) reaches her hand to the grandmother, the grandmother takes the hand. She becomes the young girl (herself) in the picture. When they arrive, Hyun Jo finds the grandmother with no vital signs. He administers CPR. Yi Gang watches the futile effort. A leaf floats out of the grandmother’s hand and upstream. Hyun Jo covers the grandmother and tells Yi Gang to call in the discovery. Yi Gang doesn’t move. Hyun Jo calls to her. She is frozen. He shakes her and tells her to sit and rest. Yi Gang complies. He coaches her to breath. He calls in the discovery. The ranger station states it will take several hours for additional help to arrive.
Hyun Jo reports this is the second body he’s found on the mountain. He admits he had to let Sargent Kim die in their previous location where they met the soldiers. Hyun Jo says it is his fault that Sargent Kim died alone on the mountain.
Flashback…Captain Kang Hyun Jo encourages his men to keep up the grueling pace. He encourages the straggler Sargent Kim to keep up. Hyun Jo is dismayed when they break for camp that Sargent Kim isn’t there. The other soldiers report they last saw Sargent Kim 30 minutes prior. A search is conducted. Hyun Jo arrives at the spot with the markers. He sees the downed Sargent Kim. He trips and hits his head. His flashlight shines on Sargent Kim’s dead eyes.
Hyun Jo shares that was the beginning of his visions of people dying on the mountain. The visions were always followed by news reports of deaths on the mountain. Hyun Jo admits he was afraid to return to the mountain but felt he had to face the ghost, the spirit, whatever it is. Hyun Jo says his mission is now to save people. Hyun Jo gets a call from Lt Choi reporting one of his men is missing.
Yi Gang and Hyun Jo return to where the soldiers camped. Hyun Jo steps on a bottle of yogurt. Lt Choi reports that the missing man had to expel his food. Yi Gang wonders if he was hallucinating.
Flashback…the missing solider stumbles around the stacked memorial markers then expels his food.
Yi Gang, Hyun Jo, Lt Choi and the soldiers arrive at the location where they found the missing soldier’s expelled food. Lt Choi admits they almost got lost and retreated. Yi Gang notes the trees in this area all look the same and it is difficult to navigate during the day and almost impossible at night. She orders everyone to monitor their GPS locations while they search.
The missing solider stumbles around the stacked memorial markers.
Lt Choi asks if they’ll find the missing soldier. Hyun Jo declares with all their efforts; they’ll find the missing man. Everyone searches and calls for the missing soldier while checking their GPS location repeatedly.
The missing solider stumbles to the edge of the cliff. A man watches and smiles. Hyun Jo tackles the missing solider to stop his progress. Yi Gang blows her whistle. Lt Choi and the soldiers arrive. The missing soldier is foaming at the mouth. The helicopter arrives to airlift.
At the memorial service for the grandmother, Yi Gang’s grandmother sobs her pain and loss. Yi Gang holds her grandmother’s hand and comforts her. Hyun Jo and Ranger Jung sit outside. They greet Yi Gang and her grandmother when they exit the funeral home. They watch Yi Gang take her grandmother home.
Ranger Jung tells Hyun Jo he did his best to find the missing grandmother. Ranger Jung wonders if Yi Gang is okay. He shares that Yi Gang found the bodies of her parents on the mountain, so memories were likely stirred up. He explains the rangers were shorthanded, so Yi Gang went to search alone. She fainted when she found her parents. Yi Gang has a hard time finding dead bodies. Hyun Jo asks why Yi Gang does search and rescue. Ranger Jung notes that when Yi Gang shares what happened when she was 24, he’ll understand.
Back at her grandmother’s eatery, Yi Gang locks up for the night. Hyun Jo arrives and asks for food. She makes him food. They drink. Hyun Jo reports the missing solider is recovering rapidly.
Flashback…Hyun Jo takes the recovering soldier a meal. He asks if it was food poisoning. The soldier confirms he ate something bad. The solider confirms he drank water from the spring. Hyun Jo asks where he found the bottle of yogurt. He notes it couldn’t have been the spring water as that would have taken effect much sooner. The soldier looks nervous. Hyun Jo assures him he won’t tell Lt Choi if the soldier shares what really happened.
Hyun Jo tells Yi Gang the soldier shared when he found the man looking in a pink backpack; that man gave him the bottle of yogurt. He drank it then fell asleep. When he woke; he was dizzy, nauseous, and hallucinated. Yi Gang points out bottles of yogurt aren’t poison. Hyun Jo shares in his vision he saw a man lurching around the stone memorial markers and an empty bottle of yogurt. Hyun Jo says the missing soldier was not that man, because the location where they found him was different. Yi Gang sighs. She appreciates his help in finding the missing solider. Hyun Jo’s insights made the difference. But she’s not sure about his visions.
In the forest at the stacked stone memorial markers, Hyun Jo looks and considers. He looks at the sticks beyond the marker. He remembers his vision. He remembers hitting his head while searching for Sargent Kim at this spot. He starts at the memorial stacked stone marker. He notes the height is different. He searches his memory. When he was hit on the head he slumped back. He saw a bottle of yogurt on the ground. He saw a man step on the bottle of yogurt. Hyun Jo realizes Sargent Kim was murdered and serial killer is still murdering on the mountain! His face sets with resolve.
Who knew a bottle of yogurt would be a riveting plot device? Writer Kim Eun Hee confirmed there is a murderer on the mountain that has been operating for years. Does the murderer add a stone to the marker for every victim? Consider me hooked!
Seo Yi Gang (Gianna Jun) can’t fully trust Hyun Jo’s visions. I can’t blame her for doubting. But Hyun Jo has an earnest quality that is hard to ignore. It was good to learn the backstory that she found her parents bodies. What happened when she was 24 that made her become a ranger?
Kang Hyun Jo (Ju Ji Hoon) believes a murderer is loose on the mountain. It must have been a relief to realize that Sargent Kim was murdered and it wasn’t completely his fault at the lead soldier. To be fair if there is a struggling soldier, a buddy system is logical to invoke. But that wouldn’t make the past and the present bottles of yogurt merge as the method to murder or at least making the victims hallucinate, wander, and be overcome by the elements or accidents. Did the young shaman curse Hyun Jo? Can it be broken?
The first song of the OST is “Destiny” sung by Kim Feel.
I rank this episode as very good, 8 on a 10-point scale.