Dear Vampire Prosecutor: Why so cute? Sigh. This show just keeps getting better and better. Between the last episode and this one, I think it’s found that sweet spot of integrating character moments with the murder of the week, and introducing the kind of conflict that matters to us. There’s stirrings of romance, conflicting feelings, the dangers of being a vampire in a human world… in a word, it’s awesome.
EPISODE 7: “Syndrome”
We open on a television studio’s set for a talk show with host Choi Wook. It seems like a pretty salacious show, making references to fighting couples sent to divorce court and all that. So… not quite Jerry, but something like Maury?
Anyway, he introduces their strange guest for the day, Doctor Ok. He seems like a weirdo quack (he claims to communicate with aliens), but of course that’s the point of having him as a guest on the show. His appearance is intercut with flashes of the doc walking down the street, and then sending a taxi away because it wasn’t the right kind, and “can’t handle the journey.”
He speaks about sharing his ki, or life force, with others, to extend their lifespan, sometimes by ten years. He says that everyone has a set death date, and all you have to do is rearrange the numbers to change the date and earn more life. He gets laughed at, of course.
The host shows an interview of a woman who claims that the quack cost her a thousand dollars and then she ended up with cancer anyway. The doctor is genuinely perturbed, saying he didn’t think it was this kind of show.
The host offers a challenge: he’ll give the doc a thousand bucks to change his death date then, and kill him, if he can. The doc asks if he won’t regret it, and the host doesn’t back down. “Kill me.”
Doctor Quacky declares that this whole show—the host, the MC, the PD, even the entire broadcast station, will suffer. He promises to kill the host in a month’s time. All this is being intercut with the doc’s trip out of the cab and into a police station.
He walks in and yells at everyone to look at him. “I…killed someone!” Cut to the host, lying dead and bloody in a bathtub. Dun dun.
Tae-yeon and his crew arrive to inspect the crime scene, which is decidedly too bloody to attribute to anything but murder. Jung-in asks if he thinks Doctor Ok really did it…
Soon-bum questions the quack while the others are busy gathering evidence, and they have this hilarious exchange right off the bat. Soon-bum: “Why’d you kill him?” Quack: “Because he asked me to.” Soon-bum: “Why are you using banmal?” Quack: “Why are YOU?” Heh. It’s gonna be a long day for Soon-bum.
Soon-bum: “You killed him, right?” Quack: “I killed him, but… I didn’t kill him.” The culprit? Aliens. HA. He says he sits down with them to have doong-gul-leh tea. Soon-bum asks why that particular tea. Quack: “Because the Earth is round [doong-gul].” Pffft. Is punning a sign of insanity? Should I worry?
Soon-bum starts to crack as he listens to the alien talk, and after an extended moment with his mouth gaping open, he leaps onto the table to land a flying kick to the doc. With crazy eyes, he asks the quack why the aliens didn’t warn him that he was going to be kicked. Heh.
Back at the crime scene, Tae-yeon vamps out to see the violent struggle between the victim and his attacker, a stabbing, and the fall into the tub of water. He tastes a drop of blood… and sees flashes of nothing. He tells Soon-bum that the victim’s eyes were probably damaged, making the blood vision pretty much useless.
While they talk, Doctor Crazypants zeroes in on them through the one-way mirror, making eye contact and announcing that he can see them, even though that’s not possible. Soon-bum jumps back, clearly buying into the crazy just a little.
Jung-in questions the victim’s wife, who’s in the hospital because her son is sick. She doesn’t seem very upset about her husband’s death, and monotones that his closing line on his show was that if no one resented you, you weren’t achieving your full potential in life. Yeesh. He basically advocated ambition and the trample-others-to-get-to-the-top mentality, clearly making enemies with everyone, including his own wife.
Busty Malone calls them in after the autopsy to confirm a struggle, death by screwdriver stabbing, and a bleach clean up afterwards. Pretty much things we could guess by the crime scene and Tae-yeon’s visions. Though the order of events seems curious, because it appears that the victim himself was the one who handled the bleach.
Tae-yeon tells Soon-bum to stick with interrogating the doc, and Soon-bum begs not to be stuck with the crazy, citing the tea/round Earth pun as a clear sign of marble loss. But Tae-yeon doesn’t budge, so off he goes, with Dong-man having to drag him away.
Jung-in asks what she should do. Tae-yeon: “You’re with me.” She stops in her tracks. Tae-yeon: “Why? You don’t like it?” Jung-in stammers: “No… I like it.” Yeah, I bet you do.
She continues, “What should… WE do?” Tae-yeon: “We?” This exchange is so delightfully awkward for her. He says “we’ll” meet with suspects.
They interview a series of people, and the verdict on the host is this: he was a pervy, antagonistic son of a bitch that everyone hated. They find the suspect pool to be too huge, just based on people who didn’t like him.
But they do find one person with a particular grudge: a dentist whose wife was killed. Choi Wook apparently invited him on the show, and then went off-script and skewered him with accusations of killing his wife for infidelity. He threatened to kill Choi Wook and his family.
Soon-bum continues to go round and round in circles with the doctor, and finally decides to break for dinner. He asks what the doc wants to eat. “Jajangmyun… without the jajang.” Pffft. He wants plain noodles? Why am I not surprised?
And then of course, what’s the first thing Crazy Doc asks for when the food arrives? Jajang for his plain noodles. Ha. Soon-bum refuses, on principle. As they eat, a news story breaks – the broadcast station for Choi Wook’s show had a four-hour blackout, where nothing made it to air. The doc jumps up to recite his I-told-you-so, as Soon-bum gapes.
Meanwhile, Jung-in and Tae-yeon split up to try and stop the dentist. Tae-yeon goes to his apartment, to find a creepy killer wall with clippings about Choi Wook, and a post-it indicating where his son is being treated.
Jung-in goes to the hospital to warn the family, but gets turned away, the wife screaming that she’s been dealing with angry people like that her whole life. But when Jung-in comes back to check on the kid later that night, she runs right into the dentist, leering over the kid’s bed.
He takes off running, and so she gives chase, having to take off her high heels to keep up with him. He makes it all the way down to the main lobby, where Tae-yeon shows up and knocks him down into a supply cart with one swing.
Jung-in runs up and insists between breaths that she was totally about to catch him without any help, and she’s more of slow start, fast finisher, like a marathon runner, and Tae-yeon just chuckles at her.
What they don’t notice in the midst of their flirting is that the guy has palmed a scalpel off the floor. Jung-in ties up his hands and stands him up, and in a split second, he lunges with the scalpel to stab her…
But Tae-yeon sees it as it’s happening, and shoves her out of the way… and gets stabbed straight in the gut. Blood starts spilling out, and he braces himself against the wall.
She runs over to him and starts calling out for help. He starts feeling strange and weak, and then his fangs come out… his eyes turn blue… he sees her neck just inches away… pumping blood…
He can’t resist and he makes a move like he’s going to chomp down on her artery right then and there… and then pulls it together at the last moment, getting back to normal before she turns her head back to face him.
Oh whew. That was close. I LOVE that we finally run into a complication—a real consequence of Tae-yeon being a vampire that isn’t just yay, superpowers. A doctor finally comes over to help, but then Tae-yeon comes to his senses and knocks her out of the way to run out of there. She runs after him, but he’s long gone.
Vamp Barkeep is closing up shop when a bloody hand knocks on his door. He runs over to find Tae-yeon collapsing in a pool of his own blood. He piggybacks him inside and throws him down onto a table, and puts his hand on the wound to stop the bleeding.
Okay, I’m not sure if this is meant to be hot, but goddamn, it’s HOT.
Tae-yeon writhes in pain, and the barkeep runs over to grab fresh blood bags, and pops them open.
Soon-bum sips on a pouch drink while staring out the window, and Tae-yeon stirs awake. He wakes up in his own bed, completely healed without so much as a scar. Soon-bum hands him his own pouchy drink with a straw, though this one’s blood of course.
He says that the barkeep really must be a doctor, since he practically brought Tae-yeon back from the dead. Er, undead. Tae-yeon asks after Jung-in (Aw, he asks about her first!) and Soon-bum says she’s a disaster, all hysterical and crying and lost her mind, and he barely managed to keep her from tagging along.
Tae-yeon gets out of bed and reaches for his coat, and Soon-bum asks what he’s doing. Why going to work, of course. “Our team can’t do anything without me.” Soon-bum corrects him that it would do more than raise an eyebrow if a guy with a major stab wound just up and went to work the day after.
Soon-bum tells him to just rest up and drink the tasty blood till his stomach explodes. Heh. He adds that Chief Prosecutor Jang has stepped in to lead the team anyway, which gets Tae-yeon riled up.
Prosecutor Jang questions the dentist, who swears he wasn’t trying to kill the prosecutor, just attempting to get away. He confesses that he broke into Choi Wook’s house that night, intending to murder him.
He found him in the bathroom and smashed his face into the mirror. He took out the screwdriver, ready to stab him… and then he couldn’t. He dropped the weapon and left him lying on the ground. And the visit to the son in the hospital? He says he went there to apologize, because he believes that Choi Wook died because of him.
The quack gets released and tells the press that the show’s PD and MC are left, and that he’ll tell them who the killer is in three days, just to give ’em time to confess if they want.
Meanwhile, Jung-in reports that tox screens showed that the host was slowly being poisoned over a long period of time. Flashback shows that this must be the reason why he had a sharp neck pain during his interview with the quack.
Prosecutor Jang, apropos of nothing, suddenly asks if she’s feeling heavy-hearted. He tells her to approach every case like that, because every victim was important to someone else, “the way Prosecutor Min is to you.” Whoa, hello, boundaries!
They’re interrupted by another development – evidence shows that the PD was at the scene of the crime. They go to see her, and she’s in the hospital for a broken leg, from what she says was just an accident. In the background, the quack continues to get hoards of media attention for his predictions.
The PD says that they drank a lot that night, and she took him home. According to her, Choi Wook wasn’t actually the bastard everyone thought he was. He was actually originally a really nice guy who had a hard time playing his TV persona.
When it came to threats against his family, he had wanted to give it all up, apologize and change. But the PD and MC were of course against it, thinking of the show first. She asks if Jung-in knows that the MC was a college classmate of the host’s wife.
It turns out that the reason he went ballistic on that dentist who killed his cheating wife was because it hit so close to home. The MC was having an affair with his wife.
Dr. Crazy reads about his own fame at a PC bang (while eating his jajang and myun separately, as per Soon-bum’s suggestion), and then heads to the bathroom. A masked man follows him in and attacks him mid-squat.
He drags the doc out of the stall and raises his knife, and the doc pleads with him… to let him wipe his ass first. HAHAHAHA. This guy cracks me up.
He pauses a second, and then Soon-bum comes bursting in with the cavalry, having set up the whole thing with Dr. Loony to catch the killer. Flashback to Soon-bum suggesting the plan, and then releasing the doctor who announced the bait in front of the press, that he’d reveal the killer in three days.
He konks the guy in the head with a fire extinguisher, and then de-masks him, while the doctor rushes back into the stall to wipe his ass. I guess that was a real request, not a diversion. The culprit – the MC.
At the same time, Jung-in and Dong-man bring the wife in for questioning because on the night of the murder, cameras show that she ran out of the hospital in a hurry…
They’ve got both suspects lined up in interrogation rooms, and the team goes over their strategy. Prosecutor Jang wants a clean confession, no violence, no threats. Soon-bum bows out immediately. Heh.
Jung-in volunteers to take up the job, and then in walks Tae-yeon. She looks up at him in shock and asks if he’s okay, and he walks right past her to speak to Prosecutor Jang and breeze that he must be okay if he’s here.
Tae-yeon says he’ll question the wife. Prosecutor Jang takes it as a challenge, to see who gets their canary to sing faster. Tae-yeon trumps him with the “we’re on the same team” card, which is hilarious because he’d normally be all about a challenge, but he seems like he’s being cheeky and knocking the wind out of his sails on purpose.
They split up and each take a suspect, and start by questioning them about their failed marriages. At key points in the conversation, both the interrogators flip a switch, letting the other two hear what they’re saying.
It has the effect of turning them against each other because out of context, it sounds like they’re speaking about each other rather than their unhappy marriages. Tae-yeon baits the wife, asking if she still loves him. He flips the switch. She says she just dated him because she felt sorry for him, because his wife left him, and that she has no feelings one way or the other.
Prosecutor Jang laughs, playing on the MC’s weaknesses. He adds nonchalantly the difference between murder and attempted murder, in terms of sentences. The guy cracks, fingering the wife as the mastermind. He just did as he was told and drugged the host that night, but swears that she did the stabbing.
Jang asks why he attempted to kill Doctor Quack then, and he says, shaking, that he was predicting all these things correctly, and said he was going to reveal the killer in three days. Ha. So he totally bought into the superstition.
Tae-yeon and the wife hear everything in their room, and Tae-yeon asks if it’s true. She confesses that she did the stabbing, but swears that he did the planning. Flashback to his suggestion that if they murder her husband, he could be the host of the show and they could live happily ever after.
They decided to poison him—both did the poisoning, at work, out drinking, and at home. And then that night she came home and found him lying bloody on the ground after the dentist’s attack. She thought he was dead and called her lover, but then he stirred awake and accused her of trying to kill him. She panicked and stabbed him with the screwdriver.
Tae-yeon asks how a body she left lying on the ground then ended up lying dead in the bathtub. She doesn’t think anything of it, but he explains – he was stabbed, but not dead. And in his final moments, he grabbed the bottle of bleach and got into the running bath, making sure to erase all evidence on his body before dying.
He was protecting her till the end. Trembling, she says she doesn’t want to know. Tae-yeon tells her that she only saw the TV version of her own husband, and not who he really was. She wonders if there’s a difference.
Tae-yeon: “Believing what you see, or seeing what you want to believe. What is it that you want to believe?”
Jung-in waits outside in the hallway. Tae-yeon walks past and she stops him, wanting to say something like “Good job, sir,” but she can only get one word out. He stops in front of her.
Flashbacks to almost biting her, his desire to, and her screaming his name in panic when he was stabbed. He grits his teeth. Eek, is he having conflicting feelings too?
Silently, he puts his hand on her shoulder, for just one lingering moment, and then continues down the hall without a word. Swoon. She stands frozen in place, watching him walk away.
Back at the crime scene, the wife demonstrates the stabbing for the prosecution’s official records. Tae-yeon smells something funny and asks if Soon-bum’s sure that the crime scene was wiped clean of all blood. He says yes, and they can see the bathroom’s spic and span.
She finishes the demonstration and stands up, knocking the towel rack down. And from inside the hollow bar, comes the bloody murder weapon. Flashback to the husband, struggling with his last breath to hide the weapon that would incriminate his wife.
Back in the present, it finally sinks in, and she breaks down, only now realizing that he was sincerely sorry, that she only saw what she wanted to see in him.
Tae-yeon drops by the studio to visit Dr. Crazy, and ask what his real deal is. He says he’s just a guy who believes in aliens, but Tae-yeon sees through the act and knows he’s only pretending to be a loon. He asks what the real plan was.
He says the plan was to rise in popularity with each prediction… and eventually usurp Choi Wook’s positionon television. But it turns out that Choi Wook was in on it from the beginning, wanting to step down from hosting.
So the plan was to transition the two with a big mysterious bang, only he died. Tae-yeon muses that someone had to take up the reins of Operation: Dr. Crazy Gets a Show, after the murder. In walks Choi Wook’s PD, her broken leg somehow miraculously healed.
The quack asks if Tae-yeon knows why people like crazies like him. He says it’s because they need a popular opinion and he provides it. He says that’s the way to steal people’s hearts. Tae-yeon snarks that he should try politics next, once he collects enough hearts.
Tae-yeon puts up pictures of people in the Bread Murderer case, all missing. He brings them to Dr. Vamp Bar with news that there’s been more movement. His friend asks if he knows who’s next.
Tae-yeon says he has an idea… in his hand is a picture of Yoon Ji-hee, the defense attorney in that case. He goes to her apartment and rings the doorbell. There’s no answer, and the milk and papers are piled up outside.
He writes a note on his business card for her to call him, and leaves it wedged in the door.
But as he walks away, the card slowly disappears to the other side. He turns back and sees that it’s gone.
The murder of the week was pretty great in this episode, mostly because Doctor Loony Tunes was such a riot. The wife and her affair wasn’t that compelling, but I liked Tae-yeon’s challenge asking if she just believed what she wanted to, which proved to be right.
I’m so glad this show is getting better and better at the balance of short and long-term stories with each episode. There were a few weeks where I thought they were going to drop all character development in favor of the crime of the week, which would have been a travesty with such a good characters to explore.
I’m so excited to see the potential feelings stirring between Jung-in and Tae-yeon, and I’m not even as interested in the feelings themselves as the conflict that arises out of them – his inability to get too close to her, her trust issues, their professional relationship that makes it all so awkward. I can’t wait to see it get more complicated.
Now I’m hoping that Vampy Barkeep M.D. isn’t the baddie, because he seems good… and okay, it’s mostly because now I think they may have made babies on that table when he was “saving his life.” But what can I say? I’m a sucker for romance.