Vampire Prosecutor: Episode 3
A new rivalry springs up, and this time it’s cop-versus-prosecutor, smug-versus-eager, manchild-versus-girl, Soon-bum versus Jung-in. It adds a dash of levity to the proceedings, and I can’t wait to see the pendulum swing back the other way as they bicker and sniff at each other over whose theories are better.
It’s not like they’re directly competing for Daddy Tae-yeon’s approval, but you can’t deny that there’s a tiny element of that built into the dynamic since he’s their boss and ultimately gets to “choose” which argument he finds more persuasive. It’s hilarious, and I look forward to more of it.
SONG OF THE DAY
Cold Cherry – “Love Song” [ Download ]
EPISODE 3: “Memories of a Rapist”
A woman comes home and steps into the shower, unaware that a masked man is lurking in the shadows. He hangs back and waits to strike as she dries her hair, until her vision starts to blur and she stumbles to bed, fighting unconsciousness.
That’s when the intruder emerges from under her bed — oh geezus, that’s creepy — and jumps on top of her.
Next thing we know, the distraught victim is giving a report to Jung-in, and an examination of her humidifier shows that ketamine — aka Special K, aka one of the “date-rape drugs” — was found in the vapor.
The bad news is, it’s been a week since her assault and physical evidence hasn’t been collected. Tae-yeon instructs her to send away the victim since a rape kit is pointless now, which Jung-in balks at. He tells her coldly that catching the criminal is the best consolation they can offer, and she’d better remember her job.
A new murder case crops up, with a young woman, Ms. Kim, found bludgeoned to death in her apartment. Her roommate, Ms. Lee, discovered her body and is ruled out as a suspect with her solid alibi.
Soon-bum clears the room of staff so that Tae-yeon can do his vamp-psychometry thing. What he sees is the victim shoving aside her attacker, saying, “Get out,” and being bludgeoned on the head. Inspecting the blood pattern, he finds a curious imprint of something that was removed from the scene, leaving only its bloody outline.
The team assembles to trace the victim’s steps, which took her from work to a nightclub, although they find no immediate suspects among the clubbers. Soon-bum presents his theory that the killer was the same as rapist in their recent case, since ketamine was detected in a water bottle in Ms. Kim’s room.
It’s a solid connection but hardly a lock, and Jung-in points out that he’s jumping to a few conclusions, ready to act on his hunch without doing all the legwork first. I love Soon-bum’s cheeky reply: “Then you leave from Busan, and I’ll leave from Seoul, and we’ll meet in Daejeon. But Daejeon is a teeny bit closer to Seoul, isn’t it?”
Tae-yeon assigns each person their role, and Jung-in chafes at his continued dismissive treatment of her. She gripes, “If you stuck him with a needle, would he bleed even a drop?” Soon-bum chirps, to her confusion, “Better not shed blood, not when there’s nothing around to eat!” Ha. He’s not exactly what we call subtle, is he? Better watch out, Soon-bum, she’s sharper than you think (and sharper than you)…
The coroner hands Tae-yeon a blood sample and speculates that the murder weapon was similar to a hammer, but bigger. Then she tosses out a casual invitation for dinner — well, she sure wasn’t flashing her cleavage for her own benefit — which he deflects till next time. Not a rejection, but not encouraging.
Once alone, Tae-yeon tosses back the blood and the accompanying vamp-vision reveals another clue. He sees what the dying victim saw, which is man missing a finger. The vision also leaves Tae-yeon gasping in pain, as usual, taking its toll on his health. I wonder if these reactions will continue to grow, or if they’re equally painful each time.
Soon-bum confers with cop contacts over potential suspects when Tae-yeon calls in the clue. I love his way of confirming: “Index finger? The one you use to pick your nose?” Ha, and ew. Yeah, don’t shake his hand. This narrows down the suspect pool, and despite one cop protesting that the nine-fingered guy isn’t who they’re looking for, Soon-bum has him brought to him.
The suspect is questioned, and Soon-bum sees that he has clean hands (literally — no scars or marks). Saying that he got the wrong guy, Soon-bum lets him leave; he’s not dismissing him as a suspect, but he’s letting him go for the moment so they can observe what he does next.
Jung-in hears from the coroner that Tae-yeon had asked for a blood sample but never gotten lab analysis on it. This discrepancy pings her suspicion-o-meter and makes her wonder at a few of the things that don’t quite add up about her boss.
Tiny pieces of plastic are found on the victim, and Intern Dong-man tracks down the source: the UV filter on a camera. Jung-in jumps on the clue, suspecting that the camera was the murder weapon, and orders club security footage re-examined for people with cameras.
Tae-yeon heads to the nightclub and asks the bartender for some “candy,” which gets him the contact info of a small-time ketamine dealer. He tracks down the guy and poses as someone wanting to work with him, and gets blown off. Tae-yeon decides a more aggressive approach is needed and throws the guy around a bit, ending with a dunk into a toilet bowl.
Holding up a finger, he asks, “Know a guy missing one of these?” Now cowed into cooperation, the small-time dealer leads Tae-yeon to a warehouse, where a team of criminals busily fills bottles of K.
Tae-yeon repeats his finger question to the group, but doesn’t really expect an answer and he’s immediately rushed by the drug dealers, who know trouble when they see it. But their lead pipes are no match for his super-vampy strength and fighting skills. Ah, I love the slow-mo fight scenes.
The boss is left quivering in fear and a simple wrist-twist is enough to get him to admit that he knows Nine Fingers. He promises to call Tae-yeon when the guy picks up his next order.
In the lab, Jung-in busily works on her own line of investigation by painting the outlines of various cameras, looking for the model that left the imprint at the crime scene. I do enjoy that the high-tech stuff is mixed in with stuff like this is so very low-tech and grunt-work-y. Sometimes you’re gonna get a psychic flash, sometimes you’re going to hack a computer…and sometimes, you just have to paint a bunch of cameras on paper and compare splatter marks.
Jung-in is absolutely thrilled with herself and giggles in glee at the breakthrough, and the other guys have to laugh at her giddiness, however misplaced it is. She’s spent all this time on camera types, while they’re well on their way to fingering — hur — the criminal. Soon-bum in particular is feeling superior, treating her approach like it’s a joke, or a cute stunt a little kid would pull.
Ignoring his attitude, Jung-in presents her theory to her team. She speculates that the killer was lurking at the club, looking for women to film secretly. (She points out, “Men like videos titled stuff like ‘Hongdae club girl, real video'” and Soon-bum and intern Dong-man shrug at each other sheepishly, “She’s right.” Hee.)
She posits: Nine Fingers went home with the girl, intending to secretly film them having sex, which he’d post online. However, the girl found the camera and fought, and he killed her.
Soon-bum is skeptical and laughs at her theory: “I said to meet in Daejeon, but you crossed the 38th parallel allll the way into Pyongyang.”
Tae-yeon mostly lets Soon-bum get in his harmless barbs, but pulls him back when he overdoes it and treats Jung-in a bit more seriously. He asks if she’s targeted a likely suspect, and she declares she has. Camera footage shows that the victim stumbled off the dance floor, followed by a young man holding a camera.
She finds him — a clean-cut young man named Oh Min-ho — at a shabby looking photo studio and brings him in for interrogation. He happens to be missing a camera from his collection — one that matches the one at the crime scene — which he says he recently lost.
Soon-bum is still dismissive of the interrogation, saying she’s barking up the wrong tree. Plus, Min-ho’s got all his fingers — and while that’s evidence that they can’t share, since Tae-yeon came by it pyschically, it’s enough for Soon-bum to discount this entire line of questioning. But Tae-yeon observes calmly and tells him to let this play out.
Jung-in goes on the attack, asking why he killed the girl, what happened to the camera he bought online last month, if he enjoys filming one-night stands secretly, if it makes him feel powerful. Min-ho steadfastly sticks to his “I’m innocent” line while Jung-in gets more and more worked up — perhaps too worked up. Is this case hitting close to home for her? Then again, maybe she just really hates rapist-murderers; can’t blame her for that.
They both start shouting back and forth — “Admit it!” and “I said I didn’t do it!” Jung-in screams at him, “You killed her, asshole!” and with his temper flaring, he shoots back, “I may have filmed, but I didn’t kill her!” Ooh.
He narrates the flashback:
He’d gone home with the girl, who seemed pretty and nice. She’d told him she was going to shower, so he’d stepped out for some beer…and found her in a puddle of blood on his return. He’d grabbed his things and run in horror, which is when he lost his camera. He’d been too scared to go back inside.
Lab results confirm that the UV filter came from Min-ho’s camera, but there’s an additional finding — a clear fingerprint, the kind criminals use on their fingertips to avoid leaving prints. On the other hand, Min-ho’s prints are all over the place, so he can’t be the guy.
Soon-bum takes a little too much pleasure saying “I told you so” to Jung-in, and on their way to track a new lead, he rubs it in even more, telling her to watch and learn from him. Oh, I smell a pride-induced fall in his near future. Sourly, Jung-in tells him to watch himself and not talk down to her. I love that Tae-yeon finds this all amusing and smiles to himself, though he’d never let her know that she impressed him.
The prosecutor team has received word of their suspect being sighted at an apartment building, and pull up to the complex knowing the general vicinity but not the exact location of his victim.
Meanwhile, the criminal bides his time inside an unsuspecting woman’s apartment, hiding while she takes a sip of ketamine-laced water and starts to feel sleepy.
Tae-yeon detects a tampered door and bursts inside, just as the rapist attacks his victim. But when the trio confronts the masked man in side, it’s a different apartment. The prosecutors demand in surprised voices, “Who the hell are you?” In a moment that’s equal parts frustrating and hilarious, the man stutters, “Uh, I-I’m a burglar.” HAHA.
The team figures their intel was mixed up, and once they’re back at headquarters, the hear reports of the latest rape. Jung-in goes to the victim’s apartment, but hesitates for a long moment and almost walks away. Finally she decides to talk to her after all and finds the door unlocked; inside, the victim cries while showering fully clothed.
Jung-in can’t bring herself to add to the woman’s pain and backs off, which earns Tae-yeon’s censure. Jung-in asks if they really have to poke and prod a woman who’s still in shock. The sentiment is kind, but it’s also misguided; Tae-yeon reminds her that rape kits are only good within two days of the attack. Will she take responsibility if the rapist gets another victim because of her neglect? He warns her to get her act together, and his coldness makes her wonder, “Are you even a person?”
Time for the drug exchange. Tae-yeon and Soon-bum keep an eye on the nervous dealer/informant who waits for Nine Fingers. Soon a shifty-looking man approaches the dealer, and Tae-yeon yields the lead to Soon-bum, who wants to solve this “cop-style.”
Soon-bum slaps one cuff on the suspect’s wrist, which bears the residue from constant application of those clear fingertips. But the perp distracts Soon-bum enough to break free and run off, leading to a footrace through the shopping area.
Tae-yeon keeps his eye on the chase, only stepping in once Soon-bum falls too far behind, knocking out the twitchy druggie with one quick punch.
Turns out the rapist is a bus driver who scopes out commuters for female victims. Drug habit aside, he’s clearly a bit unhinged; asked if he enjoys his crimes, Druggie Driver chuckles, “Can you ask a man who likes to eat meat why he likes meat? All he can say is that he likes it.” However, he states that he didn’t do any killing, since even he’s got rules for himself — murder and rape are on totally different levels.
However, Druggie Rapist did happen to be in the room when Ms. Kim’s murder happened, since he was planning to rape her roommate, Ms. Lee. Tae-yeon accuses, “And still, you say you’re not guilty?” Mr. Druggie says matter-of-factly, “Oh, I committed a crime. Mine’s, whatchacallit, attempted rape? His is murder.” That’s so true that Tae-yeon has to chuckle at his cheek.
Mr. Druggie explains watching the killer gulp the water he’d drugged for Ms. Lee while Ms. Kim was in the shower. He’d stuck his camera into a flower vase and gotten caught by his victim, who’d tried to kick him out, and he’d struck her on the head with the lens. In fact, the ketamine enhanced his anger so much that he beat her multiple times.
Tae-yeon doesn’t believe him — sounds like a wild tale whipped up to deflect suspicion from himself — but Mr. Druggie can identify the man and describes him. Turns out it’s the nice Min-ho after all.
Jung-in returns to Min-ho’s studio armed with a few facts she’s learned. According to her video tech team, you can tell what camera filmed a video if it’s left on auto, based on the default settings in the angle and depth of the image. Min-ho asks nervously, “Ah, really? I didn’t know that.”
She continues, telling him she’d studied videos online that were shot with this camera — the one he’s missing — and recognized a familiar backdrop. One right there in his studio. In that video, Min-ho rapes a woman who’s tied up and unconscious.
Min-ho figures Jung-in has got his number, and while her back is still turned to him, he takes out a rag and some chloroform. She tells him to confess to his crime, and whirls around just as he’s about to dose her. Her taser gets knocks aside and she gets in a few good kicks, but he wrestles her down and knocks her out with the chloroform.
She wakes up some time later, bound and gagged, while Min-ho films her. He tells her calmly, “I didn’t do this because I wanted to. You made me do this.” Oh, that old chestnut. He starts to undress her, telling her it’ll be over quickly: “Or you can enjoy it with me, which would be better.” Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Who feels like they need a shower?
Suddenly, the lights spark out and Min-ho grabs his camera to see through its nighttime setting. A dark figure storms in — Tae-yeon, though it’s hard to see him clearly — and grabs him by the throat. They’re in the next room and it’s too dark to make out what’s going on, but Jung-in can watch the close-up on the dropped camera. Min-ho slashes at Tae-yeon, blood splatters, and Tae-yeon throws him down.
Jung-in squints, trying to make out the vaguely familiar silhouette as he picks up a dropped lighter and walks out.
Shortly thereafter, the place crawls with police who arrest Min-ho. Jung-in asks Intern Dong-man if he told her whereabouts to anyone, and hears that Tae-yeon had asked where she’d gone. Intern Dong-man had told him about Min-ho’s studio, which gives Jung-in even more food for thought. Hmmm.
Both defendants get their day in court, with Tae-yeon presenting the case against Mr. Druggie, while Jung-in takes on the one against Min-ho.
Afterward, the two prosecutors stand atop the roof for their usual post-trial cryptic conversation, and Tae-yeon tells her: “Know the difference between a nice person and a bad one? Whether they stop at a thought, or move into action. Everyone’s got a desire to watch other people unseen. But they don’t act on it.”
Jung-in starts to ask him something — Thank you? What’s going on? Are you a vampire? — but backs down, canceling that thought. Maybe some other day.
That night, Tae-yeon studies his Wall of Weird, thinking of the vampire who killed his sister.
The show has a great premise, a solid cast with both dramatic skills and comic timing, a fantastic look, and great directing. It’s sexy and flashy — I just wish the writing were as tight. I don’t know if that’s just my expectations being too high, or the show letting the cases slide in favor of the other things it’s got going for it.
Because I can’t blame the show for not being the creepy mystery show I thought it would be, or wanted it to be. On the other hand, if it’s going to be a crime show, I think the crimes need to be plotted better. For all the cool effects, great chemistry, and fantastic visuals, this episode felt… kind of ordinary. The case didn’t twist nearly enough — oh it’s this guy, oh no it’s that guy, oh look they’re both rapists — and our two suspects ended up being our two criminals.
The flashback format allows for some nonlinear storytelling, which I like, but I’m starting to feel like this is a forensic crime show minus the forensic. I feel like the vampire angle is what makes this show unique, yet they’re using it as a narrative crutch because it lets the show withhold a crucial detail, and then give it to our hero to solve/save the day. It makes the crime plots feel empty, because if you can get the big clue in an easy flashback, you’re not figuring the cases out through cleverness. I want BOTH to be there. I don’t want the blood visions to allow the investigators to get complacent simply because they know they have an advantage.
This episode backs me up, in fact, because Soon-bum relied too much on this faith in Tae-yeon’s vampy vision and discounted Jung-in at every turn. True, he was on the right track, but he got complacent and would’ve missed out on half the case.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the vampire premise and think there’s an interesting thread there, with the Big Vampire Bad and the pain Tae-yeon feels when he samples the blood. I know that’s not a beat that’s unique to this show, per se, but I think it works well with our premise and want more of that kind of stuff. I want more mystery. More suspense. More keeping me guessing, less of me watching stuff unfold in a way that makes sense and isn’t too startling.
I still really dig this show, and my feeling of letdown is actually fairly small in the big picture. It’s just that it’s not everyday that you get such a fabulous mix of strong style and premise, and I feel like this show can be even better. I might not bother to complain about a mediocre show because it’s never going to be more than mediocre. But this one, I want to push to be better. You can doooo eeeet!