Vampire Prosecutor: Episode 10
We get a huge piece of the Big Vampire Puzzle in this episode, setting us up for the Finale, Part 1 next weekend. But even discounting that, we’ve got another strong case-of-the-week, which sends our prosecutors (and us) spinning round in clue-hunting circles, somehow finding the circle has changed with every turn we take. It’s dizzying, but in a fun way.
And now for murder, Bachelor style.
SONG OF THE DAY
Wheesung – “Oh Lonely” [ Download ]
EPISODE 10: “Marriage”
We open at a “Love Village,” the site of a popular dating reality show called Shall We Marry? It features five women and five men, here in search of love and known only by contestant number.
We’re given a cursory introduction to the key players: Bachelorette #1 is an underwear model whose insecurity is that men like her for her body more than her personality. Must be why she’s showing her personality off in a low-cut top.
Bachelor #3 is a doofy country bumpkin — but a rich country bumpkin, with 200 cows (and chickens, and ducks) to his name. Smitten at first sight, he immediately picks #1 as his favorite.
All the other men, though, gravitate toward Bachelorette #3, a kindergarten teacher who’s exactly the well-mannered, sweet type of woman you’d want to take home to mom. She says demurely that she has a hard time trusting men because she’s been hurt in the past. The men rush to help her, while the other ladies hate her.
(I confess to having an aversion to shows like this where contestants are encouraged to act jealous and catty to claim a mate. I get the shows’ appeal but it just doesn’t work for me, so it tickles me that this one’s gonna give us the backdrop for a death. Ha. What can I say? Reality TV makes me bloodthirsty.)
There are four contestants who don’t get picked by anybody, so they’re sent packing early. The remaining six contestants stay at the remote house for a week of reality-show-style dating (games played for solo date rights, and the like). At the end of the week, each bachelorette prepares to make her big decision.
The three ladies are dispersed to await their hoped-for match — if he decides to show up, that is. The underwear model waits at the lake, the chef at a tree, and… the dead kindergarten teacher at the bottom of a hill. Her scarf is tied to a broken tree branch.
The prosecutor team is on the call, and has to explain the fight-for-your-mate concept to Tae-yeon, who is unfamiliar with such reality programs. That just makes me like him more. The presumption is that the dead woman (name: Yuna) got rejected and hanged herself from a tree. Jung-in wonders why a woman would ever do that, and Soon-bum asks if she’s never felt that way after being dumped. Jung-in says blankly, “I’ve never been dumped.” Ha!
Then Dong-man teases her, “Is that because you’ve never dated?” Double ha. Watching this out of the corner of his eye is Tae-yeon, who pretends he’s not listening but totally smirks at that gibe.
At the crime scene, they examine Yuna’s body: Her head hit a rock upon landing, but the hanging means she was probably dead or dying before the fall. Tae-yeon uses his vamp-vision to see that there’d been a struggle prior to the hanging, when someone grabbed her from behind.
Jung-in’s able to deduce that this wasn’t suicide without the help of his vision (seriously, do they ever help?) based on the marks on the victim’s neck. She was strangled first, then her body hanged to cover it up. Naturally, the cameras were shut off before the murder.
The suspect list consists of seven: the five living contestants, the PD, the writer. Ooh, are we about to get all Agatha Christie up in here? I love these kinds of mysteries. Dong-man gets excited too, saying that this is just like in the detective stories. Soon-bum warns that it’s always the guy who gets excited who’s gone next, HA. And gulp. *Looks around warily.*
Jung-in and Soon-bum get started on their suspect list, and she offers to defer to him this time, since his specialty is in “turning people inside out.” He corrects her: He disturbs people in order to observe the result. It’s purposeful shit-stirring!
Nothing remarkable comes back from the autopsy, so it’s time for a taste test. Tae-yeon’s blood vision doesn’t show much, just that in Yuna’s last moments lying on the ground, she’d seen a flash of lightning and droplets of rain. If they can figure out exactly when lightning struck, they can start checking alibis.
Here’s what the contestants contend: Bumpkin Farmer made his confession of love to Underwear Model, who accepted and now they’re a couple. Six Pack the health trainer had decided he didn’t like anyone enough to confess, and was in the main house.
Mr. Never Been Rejected, aka Cocky Bastard, adds that he also was in the house with Six Pack, who’s startled to hear it but doesn’t contradict him. And Bitter Chef mutters that she waited for a while, then figured she wasn’t going to get a proposal and returned to the house.
Now Cocky Bastard tells Six Pack to ‘fess up to the murder — everyone knows he was into Yuna, more than anyone else. She must’ve rejected him and he killed her out of anger.
Tae-yeon and Jung-in are with the writer-PD pair, who explain that there were no VJs around today, just fixed cameras to give the Big Decisions a more realistic vibe. Tae-yeon asks about the lightning, only to hear that there was no lightning today.
Upon hearing that he’s the prosecutor, the PD shoots the writer a look…and then asks, “Are you…single?” Ha! Tae-yeon says yes, and the PD gets excited, declaring him perfect bachelor material, all cold on the outside but with a cute side. They offer him a plum gig as a solo bachelor romancing seven bachelorettes. Omg, this cracks me up. Jung-in mutters, “Can the crap and hand over the tapes.”
Tae-yeon is called away and leaves the case in his team’s hands, not explaining why he’s got to hurry back to Seoul. Reviewing the footage, Jung-in and Soon-bum find that everyone can be seen during the window of time that the murder occurred (3:15 to 4 pm).
However, there are some gaps since the cameras are fixed and can’t catch every movement. Soon-bum mutters that it would be nice to know when that lightning struck so they could narrow things down to a precise time. Jung-in wonders why Tae-yeon and Soon-bum are both so concerned with lightning, and Soon-bum hurriedly glosses over it.
Watching the previous episodes of the show reveals that there were strained relationships — namely with the women and Yuna. Bitter Chef “accidentally” pushed Yuna into the lake, and Six Pack leaped to her rescue, giving her a hand-knit scarf — the one she was later hanged with.
But it looks like Yuna liked Cocky Bastard better, and he’d returned her interest — to the Bitter Chef’s ire, since Yuna had stolen his attention away from her.
But Jung-in points out that Yuna wore that scarf to her final meeting, so maybe she had feelings for Six Pack, too. At this, Soon-bum bursts out into a hilarious tirade, “This is the problem with women! You could just give your heart to one guy, but instead you confuse us all and that’s why you’ve got enemies all over!” Jung-in asks if he’s ever been hurt by a woman, and he scoffs, “Hurt? Yeah, right…Sook-ja.” Hee.
Fingerprints are found on the camera that was shut off during the murder, and they came from… jealous Six Pack. He admits that he went to meet Yuna and shut off the camera, but that was only because he feared being rejected on film. She turned him down, and he went back down the hill.
So why lie about not going to meet her? Six Pack reluctantly admits that it’s because Cocky Bastard had asked him not to say anything. They’d crossed paths on his way down, but when Cocky came back alone, Six Pack figured he got dumped too and agreed out of sympathy. I guess the bro code comes back when you’re both on the losing end.
Back in Seoul, Tae-yeon hotfoots it to the prosecutor’s office, where none other than his bartender friend is being interrogated for murder. Am I going to have to call him Hotbar now, too?
Tae-yeon shows his badge and reads through the report: Dr. Hotbar is suspected of killing a Hankook Hospital nurse late at night at his bar. This is the same hospital at the center of all our vampy mysteries and Tae-yeon remembers asking his friend to look into that old case. He asks if that’s why he’d met this victim, but Dr. Hotbar just looks at him with devastated eyes. Clearly something has shaken him deeply.
Tae-yeon heads for the bar and finds the chalk outline and puddle of blood. A taste shows him that in the nurse’s final moments, Dr. Hotbar had been attempting to resuscitate her, so clearly he’s not the perp. His vamp ESP kicks in and leads him down the hall into the bathroom, where he finds the bloody murder weapon — a knife — hidden in the sink pipe. There’s a fingerprint on it.
That clue leads him to a shifty-looking bespectacled man, whom he tracks down to a rundown apartment building. Mr. Glasses passes enters a unit being used as a drug den, and asks a junkie if he “took care of it.” Druggie says yes — but the results weren’t what Glasses was expecting.
Tae-yeon bursts in and asks who the bloody knife belongs to. Another junkie attacks and sticks him in the back with a syringe, but Tae-yeon doesn’t even flinch. Druggie and Glasses bolt, and Tae-yeon does his slow Terminator walk out, cutting them off by making a two-story jump to the ground.
Druggie goes at him with a switchblade and slices Tae-yeon in the hand, but the cut heals over in seconds and Tae-yeon dispatches him by twisting his arm. I love that he literally has the guy by one thumb, and it’s enough to get Druggie to break: “I only did as I was instructed!”
Cowardly Glasses takes that as his cue to kneel and confess. He’d seen the nurse taking documents, and assumed he’d be in trouble for illegal drug selling. He’d asked Druggie to take care of it for him, but now that he sees the documents, he realizes it had nothing to do with him because the files are about blood, not drugs. Oops. All that murder, for nothing. Except now you’ve killed to cover up for drugs, which strikes me as the very definition of a loss in the cost-versus-benefit column.
Back to Love Village. Now it’s Cocky Bastard on the hook, and he explains that he did indeed go to see Yuna at the hill, contrary to his earlier lie. She’d been upset that he came late, assuming he’d gone to see Bitter Chef first. Cocky had conceded to Yuna, “Well, she was being so insistent…” and that was enough to convince Yuna that his feelings weren’t sincere.
Cocky Bastard says he asked for Six Pack to lie because he was embarrassed, and then he even takes a moment to flirt with Jung-in, saying that her badass attitude is attractive. Ha. Keep it in your pants, buddy. At least until after she doesn’t think you’re a killer.
Cocky Bastard adds that Jung-in ought to turn their investigation to Bitter Chef, because she’d gone to see Yuna after he did. So it’s Chefie who’s up next at the Revolving Picnic Table of Suspects, and she explains that she confronted Yuna about stringing along Cocky Bastard, stealing him away when she didn’t even intend to keep him.
Chef had lunged at Yuna, but the catfight was broken up by the appearance of Underwear Model and Farm Bumpkin, who’d been “out on a w-w-walk.” Bitter Chef had returned to the house alone.
As Underwear and Bumpkin tell their story, they’re acting mighty nervous, but it’s hard to tell if it’s because they’re guilty or because it comes out that they were busy, you know, doing stuff…that men and women do.
Breaking down the timeline means that Yuna was alive until 3:46. The problem is, everyone’s stories (the revised versions) sorta check out, and there wasn’t enough time for the last people to have killed Yuna before they reappeared on the house cameras.
Soon-bum suggests that they rule this a suicide after all, and Jung-in shoots him the most hilarious frustrated look ever. Soon-bum: “Just kidding!” Jung-in mutters, “And I was really gonna make sure I solved this without Prosecutor Min…” Soon-bum sighs: “I miss him.” Aw. I miss him too.
Taking out her stopwatch, Jung-in heads out to retrace the last hour leading up to the death, timing how long it takes. On the trail down the hill, she hears a sound and sees a man running away, and chases after him into the woods. Uh, have you never seen a horror movie ever? You run away from the scary guy, out of the forest!
Thankfully for her, the guy doesn’t prove to be much of a fighter. Or a runner. She tackles him to the ground to reveal… a dismissed contestant.
Soon-bum is satisfied they’ve caught their killer — this guy, Orange Hair, had been dismissed when Yuna didn’t return his affection. But to Soon-bum’s surprise, when he goes in to interrogate the suspect, Orange Hair hugs him tight, pleading, “Please, you must catch her killer!” Thinking Yuna rejected him because he wasn’t cool enough, he’d come back (sporting the orange hair) to try again.
Orangey gives them a clue, asking if they’ve questioned Underwear Model: “They seemed to know each other.”
Flashback to a conversation he’d overheard: Yuna, now wearing bitchface, had accused Underwear of writing the message on the show’s message board. Underwear had sneered, “Why, you afraid your ugly past will be revealed?”
Back to questioning Underwear Model. Is your head spinning yet, with all these changing stories?
Underwear Model says that Yuna had an affair with her friend’s boyfriend, but that she’d kept her mouth shut on the show. She could’ve told the men the truth, but she let Yuna act sweet and innocent without saying a word. Cyber tracking confirms that the online message didn’t originate from this house, either, so it wasn’t Underwear.
Back to Seoul. Tae-yeon hands over the stolen hospital documents to Dr. Hotbar, who’s now off the hook for the murder. But Tae-yeon’s not happy, because he wants answers: What do these papers mean? What happened seven years ago in the emergency room?
And yet, Dr. Hotbar can’t respond; all he does is look on blankly, a shell of himself.
Prosecutor Jang joins Tae-yeon outside, and the latter asks if his boss knew about Jung-in’s background. Prosecutor Jang replies, “Are you asking if I knew that she was the daughter of Yoo Won-gook and kept her close anyway? There’s a saying to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Tae-yeon: “Was that the reason?” Prosecutor Jang: “You know, contrary to expectations, there’s a part of you that can’t be completely cool. Don’t forget — a dull knife brings injury to its owner.” Hm, intriguingly cryptic.
His side business now over, Tae-yeon checks in with his crew. Soon-bum directs him to one last meeting before Tae-yoon returns to Love Village, bringing him face to face with the writer of the internet slander. She turns out to be a young woman who knew both Yuna and Eun-young (Underwear Model), sighing that Yuna came to her unfortunate end after “playing with people’s hearts.”
As it turns out, Eun-young’s brother had committed suicide because of Yuna: “Or it might have been murder. Jung Yuna was the recipient of his insurance payout.” Eun-young had been convinced it was foul play, and after Oppa died, her family fell apart. Visiting the dead brother’s vault, Tae-yeon finds a note written to “oppa” that makes his eyes widen.
Soon-bum takes the persuasive approach in his re-interrogation of Farm Bumpkin, trying to get him to admit that he’s covering up for Eun-young out of a misguided sense of love. Farm Bumpkin corrects him, saying that love is about protecting, not throwing your lover into greater danger, but laughs it off because he really isn’t lying: “It really really wasn’t her.”
Tae-yeon calls Jung-in, alerting her to the dead brother connection. But wait, there’s more: Bachelor Six Pack was oppa’s friend. Ohhhh, dayum. Is this going where I think it’s going?
The story continues: Bachelor Cocky was oppa’s hoobae. Bitter Chef was his noona cousin. Farm Boy was Eun-young’s actual boyfriend. The program PD? Dead guy’s sunbae. Hot diggity! So this is just like Agatha Christie after all.
But this is all theory, and they need proof. And then Tae-yeon makes a connection: It wasn’t lightning he saw in his blood vision, but a camera flash. He orders Jung-in to search the house for a camera with the proof they need.
They don’t find it, but they do gather the crew for a group sit-down. Jung-in lays out what they know about the contestants’ relationships to Yuna and accuses them of masking her death to look like suicide.
In her imagined re-enactment of the crime, she describes the mob storming the hill en masse, holding Yuna, strangling her, and hanging her from a tree.
But the group sticks solidly together and insists that Yuna was alive the last time they saw her, arguing that there’s no proof. Eun-young adds that this lack of evidence is what got her brother’s death ruled a suicide — he was found hanging in the bathroom — and a flashback to his funeral reveals that all the contestants were there, mourning him.
Tae-yeon enters and tosses some photos onto the table, telling them that it took some time to locate the evidence, but now he’s got it. The culprits gape in shock and the PD swears that Tae-yeon can’t have it, “Because I’ve got it right—”
Oops. He’s given himself away, and Soon-bum snatches the USB drive from the PD’s hand. Ha! Decoy pictures to the rescue! The photos Tae-yeon had tossed were the ones he’d found at the dead man’s vault, attached to the note. They’re candids of the friends, revealing that they all knew each other before the show.
The jig is up, and the PD confesses that it all started when Yuna came to interview for the show. She played the part of the naive sweetheart so well that he was disgusted and showed the tape to the others. Then the idea occurred to him that the show would be a great opportunity — a chance for the multiple house cameras to provide everybody’s alibis.
Jung-in wonders why such careful planners didn’t take into account the timing. Her own practice runs proved that there was still time unaccounted for, and that led her to first suspect them of acting in concert.
Bitter Chef admits that they’d practiced beforehand, making sure to be seen on camera to confirm their alibis, but on the actual day she found herself rushing, prompted by nerves. They’d all rushed, meaning that their carefully planned alibi left a gap at the end, their fatal flaw.
Eun-young asks how Tae-yeon figured out that they’d taken photos of the body, which they’d done as insurance in case one of them weakened resolve later down the line. He can’t exactly explain the whole vampire ESP bit, so Tae-yeon says he’ll tell them later — after they’ve served their time for murder.
When Tae-yeon looks at the photos of the group as they pose over the dead body, we can see that everybody’s rather grim and tearful — not at all triumphant. He realizes as the last piece falls into place, “They weren’t raindrops, but teardrops.”
He can’t let anybody off the hook for murder, but Tae-yeon asks Soon-bum to look into the dead oppa’s suicide. If it was murder, then they’ll have it ruled as such.
Later that night, the prosecutors huddle around the barbecue grill for their first-ever team dinner (the last one having been thwarted by that death by beef), and Jung-in and Dong-man tease Soon-bum about his first love, Sook-ja. Ha.
Dong-man then teases Jung-in, telling her that she needs to find somebody to love so she can shed her “never dated” label, earning him a glare from her. She scoffs…and then looks over at her hot boss, who’s lost in his own thoughts.
Tae-yeon’s thinking of Dr. Hotbar’s aggrieved explanation of the hospital file: Seven years ago, he’d been at the hospital when the murder occurred nearby. He was studying blood and curious to know the difference between vampire and human blood, and had been struck with a thought.
The doc says, with mad scientist eyes, that he’d wondered if vampire blood could save human life. So he’d made a transfusion of vampire blood.
Turning his tortured eyes to Tae-yeon, he confesses, “I’m sorry, Min Tae-yeon. I…I think…I made Black Cape.”
And then his crew calls Tae-yeon’s attention back to the matter at hand, which is the barbecue and a team photo:
I really enjoyed this episode, both on the merits of the murder of the week and the big reveal. (Eeep! Black Cape is new, not some centuries-old creaky Master?) The case was complicated in terms of the number of twists it took, but it didn’t ever feel over-your-head complex, which I think was the case for the earlier episode with the split personalities.
It had briefly occurred to me early on that perhaps we’d have more than one killer, but because the alibis had been so tightly arranged, that got rid of that speculation until the revelation was upon us. I love that feeling of surprise, and I got that when we it became clear the whole thing was a setup. Clever, but not so convoluted that it doesn’t make sense.
I appreciate that this show always manages to take a murder and twist it into all kinds of moral gray areas — the soulless high school bitches, the pedophile minister, the medicine-swapping artist impersonator, the gangster daddy who loves his little girl. It doesn’t let the culprits off the hook by reasoning that they had due cause, which could be one way to argue the cases, but tries to give us a sense that the injustice will be righted by our prosecutor, if only just a little. He’s still got a job to do, and a law to uphold, but he can use that job and that law to go back and try to mitigate past crimes.
Can’t wait to see what the finale pulls out. It’s a two-parter, so it looks like it’ll be intense. Not that the show hasn’t been intense enough already.