Stealer: The Treasure Keeper: Episodes 9-10
Our team takes on their riskiest mission yet, one that involves high-stakes puzzles, desperate knife fights, the revealing of secrets, and a bomb. Can they beat the deadly game and pull off another heist, or will the game beat them?
As Dae-myung and Min-woo enter the traps surrounding the vault, Chairman Kim heads over to sit outside the door with a cup of tea, waiting for them to either succeed or die. He deploys Hwin-dal to scope out the inside of the building for any foul play, and it’s clear this is a test for Hwin-dal, too. His potential replacement, SHOTA (Lee Tae-hee) — the *ahem* very pretty hitman who collects his victims’ teeth as trophies — is sent to patrol outside.
Almost immediately, the connection between Dae-myung and Choon-ja fails. That leaves Dae-myung and Min-woo to work through the traps unassisted and without the hi-tech features of Dae-myung’s suit. Choon-ja traces the signal jammer’s rough location inside the building, and Tae-in sneaks in through the drain to shut it down with a small bomb. Chang-hoon dons an older-edition Skunk suit to guard Tae-in’s escape route from outside.
Before long, the distressing flash-forward scenes from last week come to fruition. Tae-in finds the signal jammer, but he’s beset by Hwin-dal’s men (followed by Hwin-dal himself), who bash him over the head with a metal bat. Chang-hoon heroically fights Shota and his fellow knife-wielders, determined to guard that exit even though it means getting slashed across the leg… and then stabbed in the chest. Choon-ja is ambushed in the van, knocked out, and tied up, and Chairman Kim’s men start smashing her equipment.
Back inside, however, Tae-in is stunned but conscious. He detonates the bomb, destroying the signal jammer. Hwin-dal still overpowers him and raises his pen to strike, but Tae-in sticks him with a tranquilizer dart, beating him at his own stabbing game (minus the killing).
When Tae-in emerges from the drain, he finds Chang-hoon lying motionless. But thankfully (again!) Chang-hoon is fine aside from the leg injury — he was wearing a triple-layer knife-proof vest. As for Choon-ja, she’s saved by one of the men who raided her van. It’s Dr. Go in disguise, having decided Min-woo is more important than the reward of working with Hwin-dal.
While all this plays out, Dae-myung and Min-woo face three deadly escape rooms, one after the other. Room #1 features a wall puzzle in the shape of an ancient painting. With every piece they place correctly, the room slowly fills from the bottom up with toxic gas. Soon Min-woo has to stand on the table while Dae-myung, still masked, does the legwork.
The final puzzle pieces are the trickiest of them all, and Min-woo starts to panic. Dae-myung gives her his mask, revealing himself as Skunk, and finishes the puzzle just before he passes out. The gas clears. Min-woo rushes over to perform CPR, only for Dae-myung to wake up while they’re mouth-to-mouth. They awkwardly try not to address what just happened and move on.
Room #2 is a replica of a Baekje-era tomb, and its puzzle delivers a direct insult to the solver — especially if they’re as passionate about Korean history as Dae-myung is. It involves pulling bricks out of the wall (which causes the walls to compress little by little) and using the Baekje artifacts hidden inside the bricks to accessorize a Japanese doll, symbolically offering the artifacts as tribute. With a little teamwork, Dae-myung and Min-woo just squeeze by (literally) and avoid getting crushed.
Lastly, Room #3 is a recreation of Chairman Kim’s childhood home. This one is very straightforward and honestly a bit anticlimactic: they have four minutes to find the missing door key. The key is stuck inside a priceless celadon vase, which Min-woo has no qualms smashing, but Dae-myung stops her just in time. It’s too easy. Smashing the vase, like any logical person would, will kill them. They have to wait out the timer and risk death to survive, just as the architect hinted in his unpublished interview.
Sure enough, when the time runs out, the door opens. Dae-myung and Min-woo excitedly step into Chairman Kim’s vault. But something’s not right — judging by the thick layers of dust on the floor and the human skeleton in the corner, no one has been in here in a very long time.
Why? Because Chairman Kim killed the architect to ensure no one else could enter the vault. With the last of his strength, the architect stole the master key and fled into the depths of the vault, never to be seen alive again. Without the key, Chairman Kim had to rely on thieves to solve the traps so the doors would open for him. And that’s why he lured Team Karma here as soon as he discovered the counterfeit coin.
Now he can finally remove the treasures from his vault and sell them to secure more power and influence. But first, he has to make sure Dae-myung and Min-woo rot away with the architect’s skeleton. He shoots Min-woo first. Her jacket and Dae-myung’s suit repel most of the bullets, but one clips her in the shoulder. Dae-myung releases his Skunk gas, scoops Min-woo up, and hightails it out of there.
There’s little use concealing his identity from the others now (besides, everyone except Chang-hoon pretty much figured it out already). They all regroup at the hospital to wait for Min-woo to recover, where Dr. Go confesses to Tae-in that he joined them because he has a secret connection with Min-woo. Also, he’s officially back on the team.
Team Karma may have gotten out the death trap alive, but they’ve failed pretty spectacularly as far as the whole treasure hunt is concerned. Not only does Chairman Kim still have his six coins, but he’s amassing even more power by the minute. Enough power, in fact, that he has Tae-in’s secret room cleaned out and its contents — all the artifacts Skunk stole, plus Dae-myung’s artifact list — delivered to him. And yes, that includes the real seventh coin.
Then Chairman Kim gives Hwin-dal one last chance to prove himself: eliminate Dae-myung. Hwin-dal arrives during a thunderstorm, which is bad news for Dae-myung. But as they struggle, Dae-myung recognizes the scar on Hwin-dal’s wrist. He’s face-to-face with his parents’ murderer. He wraps his hands around Hwin-dal’s throat and squeezes with all his might.
Listen, I’m not complaining that our team beat the traps, but I am kinda questioning the competency of all those thieves who went before them. And the logistics of the puzzles (did everyone fail Room #1, or do the rooms somehow reset themselves?). That said, this show is unashamedly all about the silly, turn-your-brain-off fun, the delightful Team Karma dynamics, and the over-the-top dramatics (and I love it for all those things!) which is exactly what these episodes delivered. Plus, Min-woo learned to trust and admire Dae-myung as himself, not just Skunk.
I also think Team Karma got a little over-confident from their previous wins and needed to face some (non-lethal) consequences. They ignored multiple red flags telling them it was all too easy, so hopefully they’ll learn from their mistakes and pick themselves back up again in time to win the day next week.