I’m pretty sure I know what happens in this episode. I’ll get to it as soon as I stop staring at the pretty… I’m probably gonna need a minute…
In this episode, Tae-yeon faces his biggest opponent yet: not a hooded figure in a dark alley, but a well-dressed woman in a courtroom. It’s Lawyer vs. Lawyer today, which actually turns out to be quite the battle. I like that this show is doing the Law & Order thing of shifting focus to the courtroom, because sometimes the real fight isn’t always finding the killer, but bringing him to justice. It’s a nice way to switch up the weekly whodunit game, and also provide an interesting new foe for the prosecutor team.
EPISODE 4 RECAP: “Trauma”
We open with a chase. You’d think at first the nebbishy guy running from a bunch of dudes is in some kind of trouble, but then the cops arrive on the scene and he runs from them too. Up close, we see that he’s covered in blood.
They corner him and he panics, breaking a bottle to wield as a weapon. He fights back, but they manage to get him in cuffs and haul him away. It turns out he’s the prime suspect in a headline murder of a local pastor.
He’s known as the Bread Pastor, because he runs a bakery to feed the community, give ex-cons jobs, etc. Except apparently one ex-con decided to return the favor with a stabbing.
Tae-yeon and Soon-bum arrive at the crime scene, and Tae-yeon goes vampy to see a pretty straightforward case – the suspect attacking the victim, who falls bloody. Seems pretty open and shut, which makes Soon-bum giddy.
But they have some trouble in the interrogation room, where the suspect simply insists, all calm and collected, that he didn’t do it. Soon-bum: “My eyeballs are saying that you’re the killer. But your trap is telling me otherwise.”
The suspect smiles chillingly, “Then your eyeballs must be wrong.” Soon-bum grabs him by the collar, but the festivities are interrupted by a trio of lawyers. The one in charge introduces herself as Law Firm A’s Yoon Ji-hee, who’ll be defending the killer. So basically, hands off.
Tae-yeon stares her down, but she offers up a handshake and a smile, insisting that they ought to at least try for a fair fight. She tells him that he’ll come to hate her soon enough, so they should begin with smiles. Ooooh, sexy lawyer baddie? I like her. A worthy opponent for the prosecutor team. I hope she sticks around.
Soon-bum briefs the team on Yoon Ji-hee, whose nickname is The Eraser. She’s apparently built a high-profile career out of getting murderers off scot-free. He relays her most famous case, where the suspect was even witnessed running away from the scene of the crime wielding the bloody knife.
Tae-yeon: “And the verdict?” Soon-bum just silently makes a hand-rolling gesture, to indicate it was overturned. He shrugs for effect. Tae-yeon: what the fuck face. Hee.
To top it off, she’s taking this case pro bono. So she’s basically using this opportunity to up her profile, and nothing more? The pastor-killer just won the lottery, so to speak.
The coroner finds traces of flour in the stab wounds, so Soon-bum goes to check out the bakery. While noshing on a pastry, he finds traces of blood on an oven handle, and inside he finds the murder weapon – a bloody temperature gauge (like the size you’d stick in a giant turkey… if you wanted to stab it to death).
He gleefully wraps it back up to take away, when someone comes from behind and knocks him down. Soon-bum manages to stop his attacker and pull off the mask, and gapes when he recognizes the face of the first murderer that The Eraser acquitted – Nam Gun-wook.
Oh, iiiinteresting. So she’s basically got a killer to do her bidding because she kept him out of jail? He manages to get the best of Soon-bum and scurry away, murder weapon in tow. Damnit.
And then the suspect, we’ll call him Bread Killer, gets a note passed to him in his prison lunch: “The perfect scenario / Just as Lawyer Yoon ordered…”
It’s time for the trial, and the prosecution presents their evidence along with eye-witness accounts of the suspect’s bloody retreat. The defense presents their case – that the suspect isn’t so much the Bread Killer as the Bread Eye-Witness.
She knocks down the prosecution’s circumstantial evidence without batting an eyelash. The two eye-witnesses are discounted for their poor eyesight and alcoholism, and basically they’re back to square one.
They know they have to get their hands on the murder weapon, and go over the details of it again – it had an inscription on it, celebrating the opening of an orphanage in 1982.
Tae-yeon goes home and downs a shot of the dead man’s blood. He sees Bread Killer’s creepy face, a bloody handprint, a bloody footprint. He gasps and struggles from the pain, and then the camera pans over to show Soon-bum, sitting right next to him, happily sipping on some cranberry juice.
Hahaha. I love that he’s just sitting back, sipping on his blood-red juice cup, all, “It’s him, right? See, I told you so,” at his friend who insists on doing everything the hard way.
They head over to the gangster office of the guy who stole the murder weapon, and beat a few heads to track down their boss. Well, Soon-bum beats a few heads, while Tae-yeon sits back and looks pretty. I like that sometimes he just sits back like a thug boss. Or a princess. I can’t decide which.
Jung-in interviews the new junior pastor who replaced Bread Pastor, and finds out something interesting. Tae-yeon goes to the courtroom armed with his new witness, who uncovers a few hidden truths about the Bread Pastor.
There’s a nice quiet moment where Tae-yeon and Ji-hee walk in together, go through their separate doors, and then sit across from each other in the empty courtroom. When all is said and done, it’s just him against her.
Bread Pastor wasn’t exactly on the up-and-up, according to the junior pastor. He didn’t come by the title the usual way, and began in fact at an orphanage/church (the one that celebrated its opening with turkey thermometers, apparently). This first church was discovered to be funded illegally, with embezzled money.
But it doesn’t stop there. The junior pastor begins haltingly, “Every Monday night, he would have a few children brought up to see him…” Oh NO. Bread Pastor’s a child molester? Christ.
The defense objects to this seemingly irrelevant line of inquiry, but of course, it’s not irrelevant, as Tae-yeon shows with his next witness – a woman who worked with Bread Pastor back in 1982.
She describes what she witnessed: Bread Pastor in a room with four little children, each taking off their clothes. *shudder* Tae-yeon asks her if any of the kids is here in this courtroom, and she apologizes, as she points to the suspect.
He freaks out and lunges at her, and they have to haul him away. It’s tragic, but it’s a good day for the prosecution, now that they’ve established a clear motive for murder.
The Eraser declares that it’ll still be her victory to claim in the end, since they have no material proof that he did the stabbing. This time Tae-yeon walks out of the courtroom with a smile, knowing they’ve got her on the ropes.
Back at the office, Tae-yeon asks Jung-in why the files for the kids who were sexually assaulted aren’t in the orphanage’s records. He sighs, “If I’ve taught you addition and subtraction, can’t you manage multiplication and division on your own?”
Jung-in: “I’m a Lit major. I became a prosecutor because I hate math.” Heh. It’s nice to know that math hate is a deciding factor for lots of people’s line of work, not just mine. He tosses her his car keys with a curt, “Got a license?”
She smiles, murmuring to herself that he’s nearly a human being now. You don’t even know the half of it.
She goes to a second orphanage to find the records of the kids who were abused. The four of them ran away from Bread Pastor to this orphanage in the middle of the night. The woman remembers them showing up in the rain. One was wounded badly, and had to go to the hospital.
She finds their records, indicating that each of them was adopted in close succession in 1982. But while Bread Killer kept his original name, she finds that the other kids changed their names when they were adopted into their new families: Im Jong-hwa (Junior Pastor), Nam Gun-wook (murder-weapon-stealing thug), and… Yoon Ji-hee (The Eraser).
Dun dun. Now the connection is clear: this isn’t about becoming the next Johnny Cochran, but about good old-fashioned vengeance.
At the same time, Tae-yeon tracks down Gun-wook and puts him down in the elevator with a few swift punches. They find the murder weapon tucked in the oven, the exact same way Soon-bum had found it at the bakery.
The team reconvenes and they wonder what to do with their new info, but Tae-yeon doesn’t see why they’d mess with the case now, since they have the murder weapon sitting pretty right in front of them.
He orders the blood on the weapon tested, and they head into the courtroom.
Tae-yeon makes a comment to Ji-hee about being careful not to let her vengeance show, and she realizes that he’s found out the foursome’s connection. But his smoking gun is the thermometer, not the kids, and in his cross-examination of the suspect, he shows the murder weapon to the court.
They’re still waiting on the results of the blood test, even as he speaks, and the judge asks if what he’s insinuating can be verified. Tae-yeon answers yes, and then finally Dong-man runs into the courtroom and hands Jung-in the paper.
She looks up at Tae-yeon, but that’s not a happy look on her face. He reads the results for himself: the blood on the thermometer is the suspect’s, not the victim’s. Ji-hee smiles. Damn, they played right into her hands.
Tae-yeon realizes what’s happened, and lifts up the suspect’s shirt to find an old scar on his abdomen. He takes a deep breath, and changes his tactic. With a calm, empathetic smile, he asks the suspect what kind of man the Bread Pastor was.
And then he paints the picture, of the four kids who came to the orphanage, and the nice pastor who took them in, and gave them bread, and treated them like family. But they soon discovered his true nature, and felt trapped and powerless.
They tried to fight back, but he was too strong. And one boy, the suspect, was stabbed — he holds up the thermometer – “with this.” Two thermometers, two different crimes.
Then Tae-yeon starts to get amped up, describing the torture, the pain, the anger that must’ve welled up. He’s trying to get the suspect to break on the stand, but it’s getting out of control.
Ji-hee is objecting, the judge is yelling at him to stop, the suspect is wrenching his face in his hands denying and denying, but Tae-yeon won’t stop. Or he can’t.
Tae-yeon: Was the pain that insufferable? Enough not to be able to live with it? You gave your whole life to vengeance! You broke the shackles that imprisoned you for your entire life! Can’t you say that you were the one who killed him? I couldn’t forgive that bastard who stole my childhood from me! The man I killed deserved to die! Say it! If it were me, I’d have killed him too! So say it!
The courtroom goes silent. Well THAT’s awkward. Look who’s showing their vengeance now. But in the end it’s enough to break him. The suspect stammers through his tears, “I… killed him.”
As they wait for the judge to return with the verdict, Jung-in asks, “What you said earlier… is it true? When you said you would’ve killed him too, if it were you… Is it true?” Tae-yeon doesn’t answer.
The judge returns with the verdict… NOT guilty. He says the evidence is still circumstantial, and the prosecution has failed to produce any hard proof tying the defendant to the crime. And the confession was obtained by publicly badgering the suspect, and so, that’s that. He goes free.
In the parking garage, Ji-hee meets with Nam Gun-wook to clear their business and vow not to see each other again. She gets into her car, where Tae-yeon is sitting there waiting. Hi, Creepy. Geez.
He asks why she made him chase after the decoy murder weapon. She tells him that this was all about uncovering the truth behind what happened 30 years ago. He asks where the real murder weapon is, and she reminds him that she said he’d never find it.
We see in flashback that the actual murder weapon was a frozen-bread-dough-ice-pick – a molded replica of that same thermometer. He used it to stab the pastor, and then BAKED it into bread, which the junior pastor then gave away to the congregation. Holy crap. And gross, murder bread.
He can’t help but laugh at the irony of it, and she cops to the poetic justice, wanting to have the Bread Pastor stabbed with the very thing he used to buy legitimacy and cover up his crimes.
He gets out of the car, but then she stops him to hand him an envelope. She says she thought he was smart, but found that he actually had quite a hard time distinguishing truth from fiction, and drives away with the promise to meet again.
He opens up the envelope to find the record of their trial. He reads it with a serious expression as something dawns on him, and then he laughs and tosses it on the ground.
Flashbacks to the judge during the trial. Tae-yeon drives away, and we see the file issuing the verdict. It reads, “Judge: Nam Gun-wook.” Oh damn, two thermometers, where one turns out to be a fake, and two Gun-wooks, where one is just a gun-for-hire, a decoy to hide the real Gun-wook, in the judge’s robes?
I like this case.
The judge goes home that night, as the rain comes down hard. He feels someone watching him, and turns back to ask who’s there. Oh, don’t do that. Suddenly, a hooded figure grabs him.
Fangs come down, and he chomps down on the judge.
Tae-yeon sits at his vamp bar, wondering where his friend is tonight.
A much better episode this time around, with a more intricate murder and some proper twists. I like that perhaps Tae-yeon’s biggest foe isn’t a murderer or a vampire, but a lawyer who’s better than him. She just outsmarts him, which is pretty damn cool. You know, minus the murder and stuff. I hope she comes back, just to be a thorn in his side.
I also like episodes that set the world a little off-balance. Tae-yeon doesn’t win this time, despite having the capacity to, as a plain ol’ human prosecutor. He lets his emotions get the best of him, and plays right into the opposing team’s hands. Seeing him lose his cool is a great moment, because he’s usually so calm and collected, and two steps ahead of everyone else. It feels like we’ve seen a little more of his vulnerable human side, and I hope we see him blunder and lose his cool more often.
It’s also about high time we caught another glimpse of the Big Bad, and though it’s just another appearance of the mysterious hooded vampire, it’s better than having Tae-yeon just stare at his wall again for the umpteenth time. We know that he’s got a link to Tae-yeon and his cases, because both instances have connections to criminals walking away scot-free. So, murderous vigilante vampire? But then, if so, what connection does it have to his sister’s murder, which also points to a vampire?
Overall I wish we spent more screentime on the overarching mystery of Tae-yeon’s past than we do currently. I’m hoping the murder of this judge is a thread that gets picked up right away, and brings some of the big mystery to the forefront.