I just LOVE when a dark, suspenseful show throws in a nice big dash of humor. Full of wry comedy, this episode got a lot of laughs out of me.
It’s also an exercise in the whodunnit style of mystery — you know, those stories where you’ve got a dead body in a secluded mansion and a houseful of assorted suspects, like Clue (whose movie version is one of my favorite camp comedy classics) — Colonel Mustard in the den with a candlestick, etc. In this case, it’s one dead Fight Club member and a police station full of suspects all swearing innocence, with an ever-changing cause of death that just won’t stay put and identify itself.
SONG OF THE DAY
Casker – “천생연분” (Match made in heaven) [ Download ]
EPISODE 6: “Fight Club”
Time to establish today’s theme: Tae-yeon circles another fighter, then they engage in combat. Both evade quickly and land a few blows, but it’s Tae-yeon who gets punched hard and briefly vamps out, just as the session ends. The men calmly bow to each other. Fight over.
Elsewhere: A motley group sits around a table and discusses the merits of certain martial arts over others. Each person has a different idea of what’s best in a fight, and boasts of his (or her) own preference. Kicks beat punches, my hand is a knife, one kick to the head is all I need, etc. Pride and posturing.
Lunch over, they’re ready to begin what they’re really here for: a free-for-all fight, with prize money on the line. And if someone dies? “Rotten luck for him.”
With that, they head out and we get an introduction to each of the five Fight Club members. They all have names, but it’ll probably be easier keeping track of them by description: Muay Thai lady, Taekwondo Tracksuit, Knifehand Soldier, Beefy Boxer, Julkwondo Master.
Next thing we know, we’re at a crime scene.
No surprise that Tae-yeon arrives to find a body on the ground, bloody and beaten. It’s the Julkwondo specialist, Jang Myung-jin. Using his vamp powers, Tae-yeon sees the last few seconds of Jang’s life as he was kicked in the chest by his opponent, hit his head on a metal horse statue, and fell down dead.
Tae-yeon briefs his team on the case: Jang Myung-jin was a member of an internet Fight Club cafe. The four other club members have been apprehended as suspects, but naturally everyone is denying responsibility.
He instructs his team members to each take one suspect to interrogate, to which Jung-in protests — they’re entrusting an interrogation to goofy former intern guy? Soon-bum tells her to think of him as an asset: The suspect might find talking to (ex-)Intern Dong-man so aggravating that they’ll let something slip accidentally. Ha.
The team had been intending to have an official team dinner tonight, so they decide to ferret out the killer by the end of today in order to make the date. Since the autopsy will happen concurrently, they’ll interview as the results trickle in. They set alarms for 9 pm, and part ways to confront their respective subjects.
Soon-bum takes Dong-man aside to give him a few tips on how to play Bad Cop: Turn the security camera away, use threat of physical violence, and get the canary to sing. The tactic works beautifully on Soon-bum’s subject, Beefy Boxer, who goes from insolence to nervous respect in seconds with Soon-bum looming scarily over him.
Dong-man, on the other hand, finds the tough guy act less natural when he goes to question Knifehand Soldier; not only is he unable to be threatening, he actually ends up bowing respectfully. Haha.
Tae-yeon takes a moment to sample the victim’s blood before his interrogation. The blood vision shows him a man in a Taekwondo uniform in the dead guy’s final moments, the embroidered name on his black belt clearly readable: It’s Sa Jae-sung, aka Taekwondo Tracksuit, who’s practicing kicks in a bloodied uniform in the interrogation room.
Mr. Taekwondo says he never even fought the dead guy, and that his last fight was with Knifehand Soldier. But he stutters and Tae-yeon pushes harder, and it doesn’t take much to get him to break down. Scared and sorry, he blubbers that he’d warned the guy beforehand, and that he didn’t know he’d die.
Flashback: Mr. Taekwondo was winning the fight against the victim, who’d been coughing. Taekwondo had kept sparring, enjoying the sense of imminent victory, and ignored the victim holding up his hands like he was about to give up. He kicked him into a metal statue, causing the victim to hit his head and fall.
Seems like an easy case to conclude: It was manslaughter, and Tae-yeon tells Mr. Takewondo that at least he’ll avoid a murder charge. But the coroner calls with a contradictory finding: The supposed deathblow doesn’t appear to have been all that deadly after all; the lungs were punctured by a broken rib — that would have killed him even without that last fight. Meaning, Mr. Taekwondo isn’t the killer.
Relieved to be off the hook, Taekwondo man cries, “I love you, Mr. Prosecutor!” He bows low and promptly knocks his head on the table. Is it weird that I find him adorable?
Jung-in sits down with Muay Thai lady to get the details of her fight with the victim, whom she describes as a dirty fighter, like blinding her with sand and grabbing her hair. He’d already been coughing at the start of their fight, though it had gotten progressively worse as their fight went on. And the multiple hard blows she’d landed on his chest surely didn’t help any, the last one breaking his rib.
Jung-in asks why she fights, and gets the response: “Because I like feeling alive.”
Back at the coroner’s office, the coroner, aka Chesty LaRue, takes off her jacket and flaunts her cleavage, which elicits a muttered comment from Jung-in about how she must not have enough money to buy clothing. Chesty Coroner tosses back those words on her, pointing out that Jung-in’s always dressed in the same clothes and must not have money for laundry. Rawr. There there, ladies, no need to growl about who’s prettier when the prettiest of them all is standing right there next to you, he of the guyliner and vampire charm.
Tae-yeon calls them back to the task at hand, but not before one last round of sniping: Jung-in uncomfortably asks for the body’s netherbits to be covered, and the coroner smirks, “Must be your first time seeing that.” Jung-in asks if the coroner is familiar with such sights, and the coroner looks straight at Tae-yeon as she says, “Sure, from time to time. Although not always from the same person.” Why do I find this so amusing? I could watch this all day.
Finally, they get to work and make a new observation: injection marks in Dead Guy’s arms. Tests reveal tetrodotoxin, a powerful poison, the true killer. This discovery takes the case from an accidental death to an intentional, well-planned murder.
Meanwhile, Knifehand Soldier is regaling Dong-man with war stories, spinning tall tales about his own special forces background. He ends with the anecdote about being commended by a five-star American general during the Vietnam War. Dong-man asks excitedly which general it was, and Knifehand thinks a moment: “MacArthur.” Ha, even Dong-man knows that’s the wrong war, although when Knifehand gets pissy about being doubted, Dong-man hastily apologizes and promises to believe him.
Jung-in sees this travesty of poor interrogation unfolding and takes Dong-man aside to scold him. He argues that this nice guy isn’t the killer and brings up the war hero story, only to have Jung-in point out that the dude was six years old during ‘Nam. Haha. She smacks him on the head and grumbles about needing to follow him around to change his diapers.
Tae-yeon takes over the interrogation. Knifehand’s flashback shows us that Dead Guy was coughing at the outset of their match too. Knifehand took him out pretty quickly with (what else?) knifehands to the neck and kicks to the head.
But instead of accepting the loss, Dead Guy had picked up a wood slat with nails poking out of it and swung. Knifehand, the better fighter, had avoided being stuck, but not so Dead Guy, who fell back onto a small stack of slats and ended up with a nail in the arm.
Knifehand had administered a tetanus injection from the first aid kit, which explains the holes in the arms. But the kit was prepared by Taekwondo Man. Hmm.
More connections: The syringe tested positive for tetrodotoxin, and Mr. Taekwondo had been fired seven years ago from his nursing position at Hankook Hospital. That name grabs Tae-yeon’s attention — is it purely coincidence that his sister had gone to the same hospital seven years ago, and died?
But there are no coincidences in this drama: It turns out that a patient — Dead Julkwondo Guy — had complained to the hospital about Mr. Taekwondo spouting “strange talk.” Specifically, about seeing the true killer in that case: a vampire.
A clue! Tae-yeon storms in on Mr. Taekwondo to demand his eyewitness account in the old case. After telling the story (which we don’t hear directly), Tae-yeon tells him, “Thank you, on a personal level” — but still, business is business, and they have the matter of a poisoned syringe to deal with.
Mr. Taekwondo insists he didn’t kill the man, and that he has no idea the syringe contained poison. He’d injected the victim after knocking him down — but they were just painkillers to help with the shock.
Tae-yeon charges him with killing Dead Guy out of revenge, but Mr. Taekwondo blubbers, “Why would I take revenge on someone I just met?” Tae-yeon points out that the victim was responsible for his firing, and Mr. Taekwondo asks blankly, “Wait — that jerk was the one who got me fired?!” He shovels food into his mouth, swearing, suddenly pissed off. Ha. Is it just me, or do we have an extra dose of funny today?
Another twist: Lab results reveal that the tetrodotoxin wasn’t present in strong enough amounts to kill the man. Instead, he’d fallen into shock because of a penicillin allergy to the tetanus shot — but that shock wasn’t the killer, either. Ha, maybe Dead Guy was just having a really bad day, and everything combined finished him off. It’s like a paper cut — one won’t kill you, or two, but if you somehow added up all the paper cuts you’ve ever had in your life and got them on the same day, you might be in a lot more trouble.
Instead, it appears he died of a type of E. coli poisoning. Or rather, he was dying of it, and all the other stuff just sped up the process.
Meanwhile, Soon-bum has been torturing his boxer suspect with his brand of quiet terror — all calm and polite on the surface, but backed up by the threat of violence. Like a mob don.
The team joins Soon-bum to get this suspect’s story: Three days before the fight, Beefy Boxer had met Dead Guy at his restaurant to discuss the upcoming Fight Club event. He’d served his guest yookhwe — raw beef — which had done him in.
So, the rundown: Dead Guy, back when he was Alive Guy, ate tainted beef three days before the fight. After an incubation period, the symptoms emerged on the day of the fight, when he got a shot for tetanus and reacted badly to the penicillin, broke a rib that tore into his lung, then got knocked down by Taekwondo Man, hit his head, received a painkiller injection, and died.
Phew. Like I said, a really bad day.
Now, the team has to decide what, exactly, the crimes were. Dong-man pipes up that if they want to get technical, the real cause of death was the cow… and then laughs nervously when they glare at him. Tae-yeon decides that they’ll charge the four with operating an illegal fight club, with additional gambling charges (since money was at stake), and assault on top of that. Beefy Boxer also gets a charge for violating hygiene codes with his tainted food.
They wrap the case with perfect timing: The team’s 9 pm alarms go off, so they can make their dinner reservation after all. Only, um, the restaurant Dong-man reserved has an all-beef menu. Not quite the thing to appeal to their stomachs today. Other than beef barbecue, they’ve got… beef intestines. Mmm, offal. What else? Yookhwe, today’s raw beef centerpiece.
Now, time to revisit the matter of that disappeared judge from a previous episode. Tae-yeon mulls over a newspaper article marking the judge’s fifth day missing. Soon-bum comes by to drop off Beefy Boxer’s confession statement, which is moot at this point but interesting for the fact that he and Dead Guy had conspired to work together in the Fight Club-o-rama. In fact, Beefy had been secretly watching while Knifehand had fought the others, which explains why we didn’t see him fighting.
Tae-yeon declines an invitation to join the others for a drink, and Soon-bum urges him to be more social. “If you wanna live as a human, you should act as a human, making friends, dating— Er, dating might be difficult.” Heh.
Tae-yeon returns, “Can wanting to live as a human actually turn you human?” He turns over his credit card and tells Soon-bum to treat the others. He turns his attention to the written confession, and a flashback shows us what Beefy Boxer saw.
The result? Omg. The fight, which was so badass and brutal before, actually turns out to be bumbling and ineffectual. Think Bridget Jones. Think Xander and Harmony. Think middle-aged men with delusions of grandeur, tripping over their own feet and screeching like monkeys. It is hysterical.
And the deadly Muay Thai lady? It was no fatal blow to the chest breaking his rib after all — just a fumbling toss of a brick. And with Mr. Taekwondo’s turn, there had been no contact at all — the black belt had done a lot of hopping and bouncing, and flung his leg wildly into the air — and then stumbled into Dead Guy, who staggered back against the metal horse. Hi-la-ri-ous.
Tae-yeon and Jung-in meet on the rooftop for the usual debriefing session, where she wonders why the members all lied instead of just telling the truth. He figures everybody wanted to see themselves in a more flattering light.
Jung-in asks if Tae-yeon has a connection to the 7-year-old hospital murder case, because she’s noticed that he becomes sensitive around certain facts and names, like Hankook Hospital. He turns the question back to her, asking whether she has a trauma in her own past she’d like to forget, and that if she does, she shouldn’t ask about his.
This sends us into a flashback — hers, this time, dating to childhood. Young Jung-in had been playing on a swing with her father, giggling and happy. That’s all we see for now, but the mention is enough that she doesn’t pursue the question. (Hm, interesting. So her strong reaction to the rapists in a previous episodes wasn’t a fluke after all…)
Blood Bar. Tae-yeon tells his mysterious bartender hyung that he ran into someone who worked at Hankook Hospital. Mention of the hospital takes us back to the interrogation room, when Mr. Taekwondo had shared with Tae-yeon his eyewitness account of the 7-year-old murder.
Now we hear the story: Mr. Taekwondo left work late that night, passing by a girl talking on the phone — Tae-yeon’s sister, it looks like — and turned back to see her lying on the ground, a man crouching over her, blood dripping from his mouth. The killer had asked, “My body feels strange — who made me like this?”
Tae-yeon had asked Mr. Taekwondo whether he believes vampires are real, to which Mr. Taekwondo had replied, “That’s not the important point — it’s that I saw one.” Tae-yeon had told them, “Vampires don’t exist.”
Now, he asks his hyung to inquire into the Hankook Hospital murder case — after all, the hyung used to be a doctor there. Tae-yeon leaves behind the newspaper article about the disappeared judge with the comment, “This case smells of blood.” There’s a bit of tension in their loaded looks at each other — suspicion? challenge? — but they don’t comment on it.
That night, Tae-yeon stakes out the Bread Killer from a previous episode, who’s now free of murder charges. Quietly, he follows him through a neighborhood, unseen until a car narrowly misses hitting him.
That tips off Bread Killer that he’s being followed, and he breaks into a run. Tae-yeon follows through the dark alleys, but he’s too late — the man is grabbed by a dark figure and attacked.
Tae-yeon finds blood drops on the ground, and a taste shows him the Bread Killer’s last moments — a man in a dark hood, the flash of vampire fangs, a neck bite.
And then, a scream sounds off in the distance.
Oh man, this episode was so unexpectedly funny; it brought a big smile to my face. After all the stories about child abuse, rape, and general human depravity, it’s nice to have a break and cover a case rooted in sheer human error.
When they revealed the actual fight scenes — after we’d seen the super-flashy, hardcore combat in each suspect’s flashback — I about busted a gut laughing. How awesome to take this trendy pop culture concept and totally skewer it? Who would’ve thought that in a drama about a vampire with psychic superpowers, the cheesy bit would be the murder/accidental death?
The light murder plot also gave us a little extra time to explore Tae-yeon’s background, which was a nice change from the tiny dribs and drabs we’ve had to be satisfied with in recent weeks. I like that this show isn’t only about that Big Bad Vampire mystery, because the cases are interesting and (sometimes) clever, allowing for comedic elements like today. But I did think we really ought to be seeing more of the big picture, especially now that we’re at the halfway mark. It seems pretty apparent that the blood dealer hyung is very involved in Tae-yeon’s sister’s case, but Tae-yeon himself seems wary of him, which suggests to me that we may be in for another twist. The hero can’t suspect the killer in Episode 6 and just have that be the end of it, right? I look forward to finding out what the guy’s real deal is.