Why do I like this show? It’s Angel-meets-Bones. What’s not to like? (Okay, it’s more like if Angel were the Batman to Booth’s Bruce Wayne and he starred in an episode of CSI. Details.) It’s glossy and rapid-fire, and the narrative setup is one that follows the tried-and-true American procedural down to the letter. But my favorite thing about it is that it doesn’t assume the audience is full of idiots. It’s not afraid to be mysterious, to keep us in the dark, so that you’re leaving every episode with more questions than answers. It’s smart, and it’s got me clamoring to know more. It’s also a series you have to watch in motion, because the coolest part of it is the editing and the feel of each slow-motion drop of blood, which can’t really be replicated in a recap.
EPISODE 2 RECAP: “Death Scene”
We get another mysterious opening, but this time it’s a woman in danger, running from an attacker. He comes up from behind and stabs her, over and over. She teeters on the edge of the pool, spilling a few drops of blood artfully into the water, before falling to her death…
…Is what we think, until she comes up gasping for air, and the director yells, “Cut!” exasperated that she’s ruined yet another take by her selfish need to you know, breathe.
It turns out she’s quite a pill herself, refusing to do any more takes because it’s bad for her skin. That gets director huffypants in a mood, until the producer steps in and makes it worse by taking the starlet’s side.
There’s swearing, accusations of who’s sleeping with whom… until finally the actress agrees to go again, while muttering about the crappy script under her breath. We go in reverse and watch her get stabbed all over again, except this time, she teeters on the edge of the pool, but then we cut to a real murder.
This time the director falls into the pool, where he bleeds out and dies. That must’ve been the scene he wanted. Too bad he had to die to get it.
Our prosecutor duo Tae-yeon and Soon-bum arrive on the scene the next morning, and Soon-bum explains that the victim is an up-and-coming director, just about to debut with a script he spent ten years perfecting while holed up in his apartment. Ten years? On a horror flick? Okay, whatever.
Behind his sunglasses, Tae-yeon goes vampy blue-eyes to see the final moments of the murder in reverse. He sees the director get stabbed with a knife that looks exactly the same as the prop version from his movie.
They laugh to themselves as they watch the overeager Jung-in rifle through the bushes like Scooby-do, but she surprises them both by retrieving the murder weapon. She holds up the bloody knife like she just won the lottery, and Tae-yeon walks right past her, refusing to acknowledge the job well done to her face. Heh.
She sneers and then notices the actress standing in the background, suddenly very upset when she sees Jung-in holding up the murder weapon.
She notes it curiously, and then takes the knife back to the lab, where she ruins the intern’s day by catching him just before closing time. She points out that there’s a hair on the knife – a long curly one.
And then she takes out another hair sample, one she snagged right off the actress, at the crime scene. Ha. She just yanked a hair right off her head? That’s one way to go on a hunch. She tells the intern to compare the two hairs, obviously expecting a match.
In his office, Tae-yeon drinks the victim’s blood sample, reliving the moment of the murder. He struggles, and hunches over in pain. Hm, curious. Is it like a drug trip? Why is it different from drinking bagged blood from the hospital?
He retrieves one clue: the word “nano.” He asks the intern about it, and finds that it’s the brand of a tiny USB drive. Also, Apple makes them. They play music. No? Do vampires only listen to music on record players?
The next day they turn the director’s office upside-down, looking for his USB drive. Tae-yeon sees an article on the movie (aptly named Murderer) that says that a murderer will be revealed through the film. He asks an assistant about it, and finds out that the film is based on a true story – an unsolved case of the murder of a young woman.
Well now they have motive. Tae-yeon lingers at the director’s desk and sees a mugshot of a creepy guy, and Soon-bum grabs it with glee, deciding that he’s their killer. Tae-yeon thinks he’s being a little too quick to jump to conclusions.
Tae-yeon: “It’s: All roads lead to Rome, don’t you think?” (As in: there are many ways to get at the end result.) Soon-bum: “No. It’s: No matter what road you take, you just have to get to Seoul.” Haha. I love their witty banter.
While Tae-yeon gets in quality brooding time in his office, Soon-bum tries to track down creepy mugshot guy, first through police cooperation (that doesn’t go so well), and then by hiring a group of thugs to scour the streets.
Meanwhile, Jung-in follows up on her hunch about the starlet, and armed with a 100% DNA match between the two hair samples, she marches over to the beauty salon to have a word.
The actress doesn’t even flinch at the accusation, and admits that they fought that night, after the shoot. She had packed a bag and threatened to walk off the movie, accusing him of not knowing how to write the ending.
She warned him that pointing the finger at a random suspect would just end in a lawsuit, and he drunkenly slapped her. She slapped right back, and they ended up in a hair-pulling fight. That hardly seems like the precursor to a stabbing.
Jung-in gets interrupted by a phone call, asking if the actress is right- or left-handed. She’s right-handed, and to Jung-in’s dismay, that frees her from suspicion. She’s literally like, AW, man!
The medical examiner calls the crew in after the autopsy to demonstrate how the stabbing could only have been done by a left-handed person. The boys can’t hear a word she’s saying because they’re too distracted by her breasts, but Jung-in asks all the requisite questions before she’s convinced.
Tae-yeon goes to question the movie producer next, who’s sporting a brand new cast on his left hand. Tae-yeon asks why he came back to the set that night, and he says he came to try and reconcile the director-actress feud that had erupted.
In flashback, the actress leaves after her fight with the director, and the producer stays behind to try and talk him into finishing the script. He chastises him for doing that magazine interview without consulting him, and brashly announcing that he’d reveal the true murderer in the film.
The director insists that he’ll do exactly that, and when the producer challenges him thinking he’s just making it up as he goes, the director confesses drunkenly that he finished the script, long ago. And then his friend killed her, following his script. “I designed it all.” And now he’s going to reveal the truth.
Tae-yeon asks again if he’s sure that’s what he said, and the producer confirms his words. He adds that it’s all on his voice recorder, and points to the magazine photo – the one with the director holding up the nano device Tae-yeon saw in his vision.
He asks about the left hand in the cast, and the producer confesses to having hit the guy ’cause he always wanted to, and he figured he wouldn’t remember since he was so drunk. Heh.
Tae-yeon rushes back to the lab to see if they can find a copy of the voice recordings on the director’s hard drive. Score. Yay for victims who back up their files.
At the same time, Soon-bum meets with the uncooperative cop who handled the original murder case again. He pleads with the detective to share info, because he’s certain their suspects are the same guy (creepy mugshot man) for both cases.
Tae-yeon calls with news about the recordings, and Soon-bum puts him on speaker phone in the car. They listen as the director excitedly describes his story idea to a friend: what if there was a murder where the prime suspect was a made-up person… and the real killer was the cop who led the investigation?
Soon-bum freezes. The cop’s eyes dart back and forth.
Another voice on the recording pipes up to tell his friend it’s a good idea – it’s the cop, the same one sitting right next to Soon-bum. But before he can react, the cop pulls out a knife and stabs him in the gut. NO! Not Soon-bum! He’s my favorite!
The team hears Soon-bum’s garbled screams. They call out his name, but the line goes dead. Tae-yeon runs to his boss to ask for the SWAT team or the cavalry or whatever and gets shut down on the flimsy basis of a dropped call. What? You have your prosecutors traipsing around solving their own murders and you won’t even send a rescue team after one of your own? GAH.
But luckily another of his superiors – the mysterious guy who’s seemingly on Tae-yeon’s side – convinces the chief it’s worth the risk. I’d say! Otherwise you’re out of quippy one-liners.
They arrive on the scene and wait for word from the police. An officer comes up to Tae-yeon: “We’ve found a body…”
Trembling, they walk up to the corpse buried under a pile of trash. The others hang back, crying, while Tae-yeon gets closer with a somber look on his face. No! Is that death-somber or just vampire-somber? What does it mean? Is it Soon-bum?
The intern wails as Tae-yeon stoops down close to the body. And just then, a large figure creeps up from behind…
It’s Soon-bum (YAY!), prancing around on his tippy-toes and scaring the life out of them. Well, everyone but Tae-yeon, who must’ve smelled that it wasn’t his friend’s blood. But he still casts a look of relief his way. Aw. The intern hugs him for dear life, crying, and Soon-bum tells them he’s okay.
Tae-yeon reaches over and uncovers the dead body – it’s the cop. What the? Who killed the cop?
Soon-bum’s eyes gape open. “Now who killed HIM?” Yeah, that’s the question, isn’t it?
Once they’re alone in the car, Tae-yeon asks if he’s okay. I love that he’s so sweet to his best buddy, but a total ass to everyone else. Soon-bum sighs that he pretty much died and came back from the dead.
Tae-yeon shares what he’s found so far, and they guess that the murderer saw the magazine story and got squeamish, and started killing again to cover his tracks. And then Jung-in runs up, “The killer just confessed.”
What? This case just gets weirder and weirder.
They get the confessed killer – the original victim’s older brother – in the interrogation room. Tae-yeon locks the door and turns off the cameras to get him to talk. He asks if he went to see the movie director after that magazine story came out.
In flashback we see the oppa storm into the director’s office, in a fit about the movie claiming to reveal the killer in his sister’s murder case. He warns that they’ll both be dead if he does that.
The director then tells him about the cop — his friend, the real murderer. The brother doesn’t believe him at first, but then the director dies a few days later, confirming his suspicions. The brother begins to tail the cop. We speed up to Soon-bum’s stabbing, where the cop runs to his car, only to be murdered by the brother, who’s lying in wait.
Back in the interrogation room, Tae-yeon lets out a bitter little laugh, “I envy you.” There’s something so twisted about being genuinely envious that this guy got to murder his sister’s killer with his own hands.
Time for broody workout. Tae-yeon works out his aggression as he flashes back to glimpses of his sister, his human past, the accident where her body was found with puncture wounds in her neck, him identifying her body in the morgue, and then crumpling to the ground.
And then a few flashes of the accident that opened Episode 1, where he had been turned.
He prosecutes the brother’s case, arguing for a lenient sentence given the circumstances of his sister’s murder. It’s granted. Mysterious Boss points out that Tae-yeon went pretty easy on the guy. Was it sympathy because of the sister?
He clearly knows a big chunk of Tae-yeon’s backstory, considering his string of pointed questions every time they cross paths. Tae-yeon says nothing in reply, though clearly the boss is not wrong.
He goes to see the movie’s producer, who hands him the final script pages that the director had written just before his death. He reads the ending, astonished to find that he had predicted exactly what happened in real life.
Tae-yeon envisions the script’s version of events – the brother attacks the cop when he finds out that he’s the killer. Tae-yeon (as the stand-in for the fictional prosecutor) tries to stop him, saying that it’ll make him a killer too. The brother doesn’t care.
The cop runs. The brother gives chase. Tae-yeon follows. He tries to stop the brother, but he’s too late, and the cop dies. Then Tae-yeon tells the brother to go.
Back in reality, Tae-yeon marvels at the realistic predictions in the script. The producer says that life is a movie, movie is life, and points out that Tae-yeon went easy on the brother in the courtroom, just like the fictional prosecutor let the brother go.
He asks if the movie’s back on, and the producer smiles. Tae-yeon looks over the city at night and tosses the latest news story on the ground – the one announcing that Murderer is back in production. He marches ahead with a renewed sense of purpose, perhaps fueled by one brother’s closure in avenging his sister’s death.
He heads to the vamp bar for a drink. His blood dealer warns him about the effects of drinking murder victims’ blood: “Drinking a dead person’s blood means feeling the moment of their death with them. Can you handle that pain?”
Tae-yeon: You have to feel the victim’s pain to catch the culprit.
He smiles, flips his lighter on and off, and adds: “And to catch him.” He walks out. Nice. I like that we finally get our first consequence that counters the benefits of being a vampire prosecutor – he pays in pain to find out the truth. It’s also a nice metaphor for identifying with a victim’s pain in order to solve a case.
At home he flashes back to receiving a deed transfer, and he wonders aloud why he left him this house. It was the suspect he was questioning and chasing in Episode 1 – the guy who said he wasn’t the killer, and then got killed by the vampire who then turned Tae-yeon.
He wanders around the house, looking for something to explain why he’d leave the prosecutor his home. He comes across a wine cellar in the basement. And behind one of the shelves is a secret door.
He opens it and steps inside, and finds a massive collection of newspaper clippings, covering an entire wall. They’re all missing persons or murder victims, one after another. He scans them all, and then lands on one – his sister.
Ooh, I like the series-long mystery of this vampire serial killer and all the different players in the underground world who help Tae-yeon along. I want to know more about the vampire bar owner. And who was this guy – Tae-yeon’s original suspect – the guy who was chasing the real killer? A hunter? A detective? Another victim’s surviving family? Tae-yeon must’ve mistakenly caught his scent while he was investigating the same crime. But why didn’t he share what he knew? I also can’t wait to find out more about the mysterious prosecutor boss, who seems to know way more than he’s letting on. And in this world, there’s no telling whether he’s human or not.
While I like that this show is essentially a crime procedural with just a few supernatural elements thrown in, I’d like to see a little more vampire mythology worked in, for my taste. ‘Cause so far, being a vampire in this fictional universe doesn’t seem at all to be a disadvantage. There’s usually a balance – a trade-off of uncontrollable evil, insatiable thirst… something so that it’s not just immortality and awesome crime-solving tricks without a price to pay. The dead blood is a good start in that direction, but I want more. I want to know that our hero is as vulnerable as he is strong.
How do you kill a vampire in this ‘verse? How come they just walk around in sunlight? Do the vampires in this world remain with their souls intact, so they’re just super versions of their human selves? Clearly he has the memories, and he’s still heartbroken. They aren’t things that would bother me if they just got explained – a throwaway line of dialogue about how Buffy‘s bit with mirrors was lame or how Twilight‘s vamps are shiny pansies. Whatever. I just wanna know the vampy rules.
That’s really my only gripe, because the show is nicely balanced with a mystery-of-the-week and an overarching personal journey, and some fun side characters. Hopefully we’ll get more time with character beats like the bromance between Tae-yeon and Soon-bum, as we go along. I hope we get a flashback episode where we find out how and why he knows that Tae-yeon is a vampire. With lots of hugs. That’d make my day.