Vampire Prosecutor: Episode 8
Character development, pretty cameos (Lee Jong-hyuk!), and a bit of a complicated plot. All together, we’ve got a longer running time today, and I’ll try to do this without becoming totally tangled up and confused. I can’t promise it won’t be, but I’ll give it a shot.
SONG OF THE DAY
Rossy Punky Perfume – “어른아이” (Adult Child) [ Download ]
EPISODE 8: “Moon”
High-speed chase. Soon-bum speeds along after a silver SUV, his police siren blaring, while talking with a sobbing woman on the phone. She cries for help, saying that an intruder killed her aunt and kidnapped her boyfriend.
Close behind is Jung-in in her own vehicle, who blocks the road with her car, forcing the suspect to screech to a halt. She refuses to budge so he starts to speed toward her, swerving around at the last minute.
In this high-pressure moment, there’s an unexpected laugh with Jung-in and Soon-bum both trying to quickly maneuver around to follow, only their cars keep getting in each other’s paths. Forward, reverse, forward, reverse, like Austin Powers with a killer on the loose.
Tae-yeon heads to the crime scene to inspect the dead woman’s body, which is tied to a chair. Her limbs bear deep, bloody gashes
The victim’s niece, Se-hwa, gives her statement, describing two perpetrators, one male, the other female. Her aunt had been hit over the head with a glass bottle and the attacker headed to her wall safe, in search of a painting. Aunt Kim Jae-young was a well-known artist, so the perps were likely after some expensive artwork to steal.
After they’d gone, Se-hwa had realized that her boyfriend Jung-woo was also gone. Worried, she cries for his safety. Um, aren’t you missing the obvious here, lady? I guess they don’t say love is blind for nuthin’.
Tae-yeon takes over the questioning and asks about Se-hwa’s whereabouts at the time of the murder. She says she was locked up in a closet. He asks how she got blood spatter on her clothes from a closet — the one that doesn’t exist in that room.
Se-hwa stammers, looking surprised to realize that she has blood on her shirt. She sticks to the story, though: It may not have been a closet since she was blindfolded, but she was locked up somewhere cramped and stuffy.
The team convenes. They lost the SUV, but that turns out to be the dead woman’s car. Soon-bum and Jung-in get busy speculating: Since Kim Jae-young was an artist, maybe it was part of a plan to jack up the worth of her art. Or maybe the painting theft is just a cover-up for the murder.
Soon-bum suggests working together with Jung-in, pouting that she always wants to be separate from him. I think it’s more that she wants to be together with someone else, really…
Tae-yeon mulls over the suspect possibilities, not ruling out the missing boyfriend Jung-woo. Isn’t it odd that the kidnappers would choose to take the boyfriend hostage over the smaller, weaker girlfriend? The story doesn’t add up, not by a long shot.
Time for the coroner’s report, with the doofy duo — Soon-bum and Dong-man — rushing ahead, eager to get an eyeful of all the leg she’s flashing today. Tae-yeon, as usual, just focuses on the findings of the autopsy. Which, in today’s case, are pretty much what you see on the surface. She was hit on the head with a wine bottle and slowly bled out, and there’s a large ragged gash on her leg, possibly from a painting knife.
Jung-in interrogates Se-hwa, she of the shiftiest eyewitness account ever. She had stated that she was grabbed, tied up, blindfolded, and stuffed into a closet, yet there are no bruises or marks on her wrists. Plus, the blood spatter on her shirt indicates that she was standing in front of the victim at the moment of injury. She’d also been the one to disarm the security alarm.
Se-hwa says she doesn’t know where the blood came from, but sticks to her defense. The alarm was turned off to let Jung-woo in, since he sometimes sneaks in to see her at night. Finally cottoning on to the fact that she’s a suspect, Se-hwa seems offended at the implication; there’s no way she could have done that to the woman who raised her. She’s pretty convincing — enough that Soon-bum and Tae-yeon wonder if she could be that good of an actress.
Time to taste the blood. Tae-yeon sees, in the victim’s last moments, Se-hwa sobbing in front of her aunt hysterically. That’s enough to convince him that she’s not lying, because why would she act horrified when there’s no audience?
Jung-in presses for a more believable explanation, and now Se-hwa admits that if she wasn’t bound and locked — which she honestly believed — well, it must have been her narcolepsy kicking in. She could hear the two killers talking while she was out, but couldn’t wake up from her sleep.
The story’s still crazy, so Jung-in is understandably shocked when the men vote to let her go. In her mind Se-hwa’s still a potential murderer, and she turns suspicious eyes to Soon-bum, who has been commenting on Se-hwa’s beauty all evening. Oh, men, seems to be her sentiment. And yeah, without being privy to the details the men know, it sure looks like they’re letting themselves be swayed by a pretty face.
Se-hwa belatedly recognizes the voice of the woman accomplice, realizing that it belonged to Mrs. Kim, a friend of her aunt whom she’s never seen but has overheard frequently. Mrs. K is also an artist, and she referred to her male companion as “K.”
Tae-yeon and Soon-bum start work on tracking down Mrs. Kim and K, but Jung-in points out that they’ve left Se-hwa off the suspects list. Why? Soon-bum leans in and does that infuriating thing of assuming, Oh you don’t like her, you must be jealous. He assures her patronizingly, “You’re three hundred, no, thousand times prettier.” It’s funny, but also annoying as hell.
Jung-in retorts that he’s got the wrong idea if he thinks she’s jealous. Have the two men forgotten that they were all in accord about Se-hwa being fishy, and then suddenly turned back on their words with no explanation? What are they hiding from her? They’re always leaving her out: “Are we even a team?!”
Huffily, Jung-in storms out — she’s going to get to the bottom of Se-hwa’s deal. The men concede amongst themselves, abashed, that they have left Jung-in out a lot. Soon-bum: “But what can we do? It’s not like we can tell her you’re a vampire.”
Jung-in starts her investigation at the artist’s home, noting the missing painting knife and the meds in the bathroom, which are indeed for narcolepsy. Medical records confirm that Se-hwa has had narcolepsy for the past twenty years, and that she had been doing better until recently.
Jung-in questions the housekeeper about the family and learns taht Se-hwa had a rough childhood, starting with abuse at the hands of her father. To protect her, her older brother — still a child himself — killed Dad with a vase to the head, then hanged himself. Mom died shortly thereafter from the stress, and Se-hwa was given to her aunt’s care, and the two were super-close.
The housekeeper gives them a few clues: Since Se-hwa had started seeing Jung-woo, her relationship with her aunt had become a bit shaky. Also, Jung-woo drew in the park with some other artists. Tae-yeon follows that lead and finds that everyone in the park knows Se-hwa, but they’re not sure of Jung-woo.
Just as he’s leaving, he comes face to face with Jung-in, who asks pointedly why he’s here following this lead when he’s supposedly looking into the Mrs. Kim/K angle. Ha. At least Tae-yeon’s cool enough to just saunter away without admitting anything, like how maybe she has a point about his reasoning not making sense.
Gambling den. Tae-yeon enters while a high-stakes card game is under way, and a man loses his game and almost his hand. Stolen artwork lines the cage of this art-dealing ring, whose members are not forthcoming when he asks after K.
They charge and he fights. He’s got things well in hand, but he gets some extra help from Jung-in, who appears just in time to stop a guy from attacking with a switchblade.
The gangsters are much more willing to talk now, kneeling before the prosecutors as they offer up the facts: K is the guy (“pretty like a girl, but acting all tough”) who had been supplying them with stolen original paintings from Dead Aunt, until a few days ago when he came up empty-handed. K has to either come up with a painting or cash by the end of today to avoid getting himself killed.
It’s sort of adorable how the gangsters panic when the prosecutors want to take them to the police station, hugging Tae-yeon’s leg and clamoring that their cooperation was supposed to buy them some lenience. Then they’re told it’s so the gangsters can describe K to produce a composite drawing, and the gangsters breathe a sigh of relief. (“I’ve had my own face drawn up, but this is the first time I’m drawing up someone else’s!”)
Soon-bum talks up an art supply store owner (cameo by Lee Jae-yong) for information on Mrs. Kim, a chic, sexy woman in her 30s or 40s. The odd thing is, she would come in and buy the most expensive supplies without batting an eye, but never exhibited her work. Mrs. Kim bought ultramarine paint — the same type discovered in the stab wound, from being cut by a palette knife.
According to Se-hwa, her aunt had noticed her paintings disappearing and installed a security system and a safe, but the thefts continued. But Se-hwa bristles at their suggestion that boyfriend Jung-woo might be the thief. She’s convinced of his innocence — even though she doesn’t know his address, doesn’t have any photos of him, and can offer nothing to help identify him.
Soon-bum turns up another interesting detail: The credit card Mrs. Kim used to purchase her expensive supplies was actually Kim Jae-young’s. Also, Kim Jae-young had a hand condition that left her unable to hold a paintbrush.
So: Mrs. Kim has been painting for Kim Jae-young. It was by mutual agreement, but something happened to change Mrs. Kim’s mind recently.
The stolen SUV is found, ditched by the suspect, but they can’t launch a search when they still don’t know what K looks like. Found near the abandoned car are the painting knife, the broken wine bottle, and a painting scrap.
And then…the composite drawings come in from the police artist. The first shocker: K and Mrs. K are the same person. Second of all: They’re both Se-hwa.
The thing is, our prosecutor (and cop) team doesn’t quite buy that Se-hwa was acting earlier. What about Tae-yeon’s blood vision? And why did she say she heard K and Mrs. Kim talking? Even if Se-hwa is the killer, the story is still not lining up correctly.
The coroner reports back that Se-hwa’s med containers contained sibutramine instead of her prescription; the replacements are a type of weight loss drug that has been made illegal for inducing agitation. It also means someone swapped out the drugs intentionally.
Or… perhaps they’re looking at something deeper than narcolepsy. Such as multiple personalities. Tae-yeon recalls the words of another killer who once said that it felt like things were happening in a dream he couldn’t awaken from. He refers to Miyazaki Tsutomu, the so-called Otaku Murderer, who’s probably the point of inspiration for this episode. Miyazaki’s case involved harassment from other children over his deformed hands, and the subsequent development of multiple personalities.
Now Tae-yeon decides he’ll have to look closer into Se-hwa’s own history. Namely, her dead brother, father, and mother.
Jung-in begs her prosecutor sunbae for his help regarding the old murder case of Se-hwa’s father, but he’s tired and on his way home and tells her to try him tomorrow. Wait, is that Lee Jong-hyuk?! (Of Chuno, Crime Squad, Crush and Blush.) How’d he end up in a cameo here? And why was this not hyped more?
He opens his car door, she immediately shuts it. He opens it, she shuts it. Open, shut. Jung-in: “This is dereliction of duty, you know!” He argues that it’s an old case regarding a minor and it’s probably closed and she can look through the records herself.
She plays it smartly, saying how she sought him out because her sunbae is soooo smart and clever that she was sure he’d know about the case and be able to help. Oh, well. Guess not, then. Sorry.
With a sigh, he’s onboard. Hee, he’s so easy.
As suspected, there’s more to the story than the official version. At the time of the father’s death, Se-hwa’s brother had been in the hospital, and Se-hwa had hit Dad on the head. So K is her manifestation of her brother’s personality. They see that Mom was a respected painter herself, with a style similar to Kim Jae-young. This is because Se-hwa drew for her aunt while in Mrs. Kim’s personality, who is patterned after her mother. This also means that boyfriend Jung-woo could be another of her personalities.
But the team realizes that K’s deadline to produce more paintings is up, which means Se-hwa’s in danger from those art-dealing Insadong gangsters. And sure enough, she’s currently tied up and threatened by the head gangster. Seemingly in her own personality, Se-hwa begs for mercy.
Tae-yeon is ready to mobilize a search, but Jung-in declares that she’s got a faster method. She storms into a luxury loft and confronts the man standing inside, needing his help finding a person: “This isn’t a request, it’s a threat. A prosecutor has no need to requests favors of a gangster.”
The man turns, and tells her it’s been a long time since Jung-in has come to see Daddy. Aha! So that’s her shady secret, kind of. (I’m sure there’s a lot more to it.) She tells him to find those Insadong gangsters immediately, and Dad smiles, as though he’s impressed with his little girl’s toughness.
He must be a big-time mobster himself, since it takes him no time to send his boys into the warehouse where Se-hwa is being held hostage, about to be raped before meeting her untimely demise. The Insadong thugs are surprised to be infiltrated by the other gangsters, who storm in ready to rumble. Are we gonna have a dance-off too, all West Side Story-style?
It’s an all-out fight, and when Tae-yeon arrives with Jung-in, he wonders at the sudden mob presence; she didn’t exactly clue him in on her source of manpower. Jung-in tells him she’ll tell him after they’ve freed Se-hwa.
As they walk in, one of the gangsters takes a heavy stick to Tae-yeon’s head, but he blocks it with his lightning-quick (or should I say vampire-quick?) reflexes. The stick breaks easily and the scratch on Tae-yeon’s face heals right over, leaving the guy spooked. Jung-in doesn’t see the whole thing, but it’s definitely one more thing to her list of Things That Are Weird About My Hot Boss.
Jung-in’s gangsters retreat, having fulfilled their duty, and the prosecutors make it to the inner sanctum. But instead of Se-hwa, they find the boss — the one who’d been ripping off her clothes minutes before — lying dead on the ground, stabbed.
Se-hwa approaches, blood-spattered, shaking. But the voice is not quite her own as she tells them harshly, “Stop calling for her. She’s not here.”
She holds up a knife to her throat and orders them to stay away, “Or I’ll kill Se-hwa, and Mom.” Ah, so this is K in control. In fact, the male image of K flickers in and out over Se-hwa’s image to show us that he’s really talking, and he declares that “we” were the ones controlling Se-hwa, and “That damned Kim Jae-young made us this way.”
Flashback. Auntie Kim Jae-young had taken credit for the art, and switched out Se-hwa’s pills. Ah, could it be that Aunt needed her to be psychotic to paint? The Mrs. Kim persona says that she hadn’t intended to kill Kim Jae-young at first — she’d just threatened her into promising not to do that again.
K, back in control, blames this on the meds. Tae-yeon offers to help them reveal the truth, but K says there’s no point — it’s better that he/Se-hwa just die, right now.
S/he holds the knife to slash at the throat, but a voice cuts in, “Don’t do that, Se-hwa.” A newcomer joins them, handcuffed by Soon-bum, the elusive Jung-woo existing after all. Wait, is that Jung Eui-chul? (Boys Before Flowers.) They’re really piling on the cameos today, aren’t they?
Jung-woo confesses that he was the one who killed Aunt, which gets K yelling in protest. He appeals to Se-hwa, which causes the personalities to fight with each other to emerge, flickering back and forth.
Jung-woo explains to the prosecutors that he did everything. He had woken up in bed to hear screaming coming from next door. Se-hwa had been digging gashes into her aunt’s legs, demanding the safe passcode. Or rather, this had been Mrs. Kim’s persona, declaring that it’s too late for apologies.
Jung-woo had stepped in and urged Se-hwa to stop, but K’s personality had shoved him aside and readied to continue the torture. So Jung-woo had grabbed the wine bottle and smashed it over Aunt’s head.
Now in the present, Se-hwa takes over control of herself and tells the prosecutors that Jung-woo is lying. She argues that K was the one who smashed the bottle and killed Aunt: “Now I know for sure that it was K. So it was me.”
Both lovers argue that they’re the guilty party, saying that the other person is lying. But it’s Jung-woo who gets carted away in handcuffs, with his fingerprints coming up on the wine bottle. As he’s being escorted away, he pauses to give Se-hwa a sketchbook containing drawings of her.
Tae-yeon doesn’t believe Jung-woo’s confession, but Jung-woo asks him to let him do this for her. He says she wouldn’t have made those personalities if she’d had somebody protecting her: “Let me protect her.”
A flashback shows us that Jung-woo had taken the murder weapons and rubbed them clean of prints, then added his own.
Another flashback shows us an earlier encounter, perhaps their first meeting. Se-hwa had been looking at her aunt’s painting of a crescent moon with multiple facets.
Jung-woo’s voiceover: “People have a lot of names for that ever-changing moon. But it only has one true face. Don’t forget that, Se-hwa.”
Their boss, Prosecutor Jang, lets Tae-yeon take the lead on how to handle this case. They can’t let off Jung-woo because he confessed to the crime and his prints were found on the murder weapon, even though they know the truth. But since he’s innocent, he’ll look for an easy sentencing, while Jung-in muses that Se-hwa’s heart “is already locked up in prison.”
Tae-yeon wonders about Jung-in’s own alter ego, though, now homing in on the gangsters that were called in for backup. Does she have her own mobster side, perhaps? She comes right back with the retort that if he wants to know about someone else, he ought to reveal a bit about himself first. Touché.
Maybe he takes that quip to heart, because next thing we know, Jung-in’s arriving at his favorite blood bar, where Soon-bum is already a drink into his complaints about losing that SUV in the first scene. He blames it on Jung-in — or at least until she arrives behind him and challenges him on it.
Using bar snacks to demonstrate, Soon-bum tells her he should’ve followed his lead to hit the suspect lightly and trap him between their cars. Tae-yeon strolls in to warn them not to do that next time, since it’s dangerous, and a flashback to his own rain-soaked collision reminds us of how he got vamped that day.
Soon-bum argues that Tae-yeon’s case was special…and then catches himself and stops. Jung-in doesn’t miss that and complains about being left out, naturally.
Tae-yeon gets a frantic call from the lawyer who’d defended the Bread Killer. She’s running from something and cries about her friends all dying, then gasps when someone — or something — corners her.
The plot was pretty dense in this episode, and more than a little convoluted. It did do a fairly good job of keeping us in the dark about what was really the truth, while keeping the mystery unraveling at a brisk case.
So you’ve got a loving aunt-niece relationship, only the aunt is using the niece to paint for her. Until a month ago, she and Mrs. Kim were seen shopping for art supplies together, but then that stopped — which probably coincides with Se-hwa starting to date Jung-woo, which was the catalyst for her change. Her dating relationship also caused friction between Se-hwa and her aunt, possibly because he wanted her to be free of aunt’s influence but probably because Se-hwa’s time was being taken up by a different person. And without Se-hwa, the world might know she was a fraud; at the least, she’d have to stop producing new art.
The sacrifice at the end is sweet, although a bit pat for my tastes. I guess the grand love doesn’t quite make as much of an impact when you’re only introduced to one side in the last few minutes — and were doubting his existence for most of the episode. But Jung Eui-chul is pretty darn charismatic — I thought he would’ve broken out into bigger stardom by now, actually — and sells the little bit he’s given to work with.
I do like the development (finally!) with Tae-yeon taking the teeniest step toward opening up. He’s not exactly revealing his true nature, but when a boy takes you to his favorite blood bar, that indicates that the relationship’s progressing, yeah?