The funny is back, and so is the camaraderie. Phew! Thank goodness, because I had enough grisliness from last week’s extra-long premiere to last me, well, the rest of this series, actually.

I much prefer when this drama’s being witty and clever, because the darkness is already built into the premise; I find it much more enjoyable when you punctuate that darkness with bursts of humor and humanity rather than piling it on in a buffet of pain and more pain.

This episode gives us a chance to develop our new relationship dynamics, with the sharp new doc in town and the possibility of Tae-yeon’s secret being much less of a secret than he perhaps thinks.

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EPISODE 2: “Good Luck”

We reopen with the scene that closed last week’s episode: Lawyer Park Hoon coming in to interrogate the captured scientist from the vampire lab. He asks the tortured scientist, “What do you know?” The man stutters, “V-vampire.” And whoosh! Park Hoon gets in his face, glowering fiercely.

Turns out I needed to refresh my memory on how Park Hoon’s story ended last season, so for those of you with similar hazy memories: We knew early on that he was a vamp, since he turned Tae-yeon in Episode 1. He also pre-dated Tae-yeon in tracking Hooded Vamp and found his pattern: Hoody tracked “bad blood,” as in bad guys.

So Park Hoon set up a super-secret division in Law Firm H, replete with its own creepy-looking star symbol, that handled vampire cases. He’d get murderers acquitted of their crimes and use them as bait to lure in Hoody. Basically, he’s running Wolfram and Hart. Question is: Is he Angel with a soul, or the less scrupulous senior partners?

In the woods, Park Hoon leads a team of agents in a chase. He shoots the fugitive from a distance, but not enough to stop the flight. He disperses his team to continue the search party.

Credits, then on to our case of the day. In a TV studio, a host introduces the his “real mystery” show, where they invite psychic guests to show off their talents to the audience.

The guest is top Japanese fortune-teller Runa (guest appearance by Tokyo Dogs and Love Shuffle’s Yoshitaka Yuriko). The first subject is a young woman whose aura Runa reads, and detects her recently injured back, which elicits impressed murmurs from all.

Next is a woman who seeks information about her daughter. Runa explains that she cannot read the future; she simply senses what troubles a person. The mother pulls a tarot card: the tower.

Runa says, “Your daughter has gone on a long trip. She’s in grave danger.”

Cut to: A woman, tied up and gagged. Her kidnapper carries her into the woods and gets to work tying a rope to a tree. The woman starts crawling away, wriggling on the ground.

Runa draws another card and reads that the daughter is very strong-willed. “However…”

In the forest, the daughter sees a car on the road—her only hope. But her kidnapper pulls her back into the forest.

Mom pulls a third card: death. Runa senses death being tied around daughter’s neck. And in the woods, daughter dangles from a rope, strung up to a tree.

This is the crime scene our prosecutor team finds. The woman is Oh Min-young, and Soon-bum tsks-tsks at a young person choosing suicide over life. Tae-yeon senses no bloodstains, but Soon-bum points out that that’s not strange in a hanging case.

There’s a phalanx of reporters at the site, drawn by the psychic’s prediction. Soon-bum explains the in-demand Runa, sought out by politicians and celebrities in Japan, now attracting lots of Koreans eager to get their fortunes read by her.

I love Tae-yeon’s eye-roll at the idea, and he asks, “Hyung, do you believe in divination?” Soon-bum retorts that he even believes in vampires, which, touché. “I believe in you, so there’s nothing I can’t believe in.” Tae-yeon nods, like, Yeah okay, got me there. Ha.

Jung-in and Dae-man join them to report on their findings of tire tracks and footprints, prompting Soon-bum’s surprised, “You mean it wasn’t suicide?” Jung-in gives him this look that cracks me up and says, “Do you think all hangings are suicide?”

Soon-bum replies defensively and Jung-in calls him out for making an assumption, and Tae-yeon steps in just in time to prevent a prosecutor-cop throw-down by telling them both to hold off till the autopsy. I love his attitude, so very Kids, kids, settle down. It does seem like he tends to agree with Jung-in more than hyung, and I wonder what’s gonna happen to the bromance when the balance starts tipping. Are we going to get another Arang situation, where the big lug cries over his beloved buddy’s defection?

Dr. Jo calls, and Tae-yeon gets in a gibe about him being late to the scene today; he’ll have to wait till the body arrives at the office. Au contraire, says Jo, who has already been to the crime scene and back—he anticipated the crowd and hurried to get evidence before it got trampled.

Tae-yeon arrives at the coroner’s office, and gets his own words tossed back at him (“You’re late”). Ha. I love that this doc bothers Tae-yeon enough that he’d get petty with his comments, even though he’s pretty smooth about acting as cool and collected as ever.

Dr. Jo has photos showing the undisturbed crime scene, and begins his report. There’s a cool effect where he points to a photo, and the two men are transported to the scene, like they’re a part of the photograph that’s being explained.

Dr. Jo describes the probable scenario based on the marks he found on the corpse. We see Min-young dangling from the branch, which breaks under her weight. She falls to the ground gasping, still alive.

But there are signs that she was then dragged off, making this a clear murder case. The signs of struggle suddenly taper off, suggesting a second criminal. Oddly, they chose to display their crime openly—from the tallest tree, with the most open view—rather than the natural criminal inclination to hide it.

The reason for that, Dr. Jo says, will be up to Tae-yeon to find. He hands over the blood sample without being asked for it, which means he’s either incredibly efficient or totally on to Tae-yeon in some way. Perhaps both.

Tae-yeon tastes the blood, and sees a vision of an arm tattoo. And just as he’s recovering from the harsh effects of his blood vision, he gets a visitor at the door: a woman asking for him in Japanese.

Tae-yeon beelines for the new boss to complain; he doesn’t like her sending Runa to interfere with his case. Ha, I like the recurring motif of the boss always participating in some public outreach event or another, since her true nature is so coldly calculating. She tells Tae-yeon basically to suck it up and cooperate, and maybe he’ll get lucky and find some clues via Runa.

Runa, meanwhile, does a reading at the office and sees that Soon-bum can’t forget his first love. Soon-bum eagerly asks where his Sook-ja is, which, HA! I love that they carried over this detail. Sadly, Runa informs him that Sook-ja has forgotten him, and her message is cruelly exact: “There is not even one trace of you in her memory.”

Dong-man, playing translator, can’t bring himself to pop that bubble and nervously lies that yup, she’s probably still waiting for him. Soon-bum excitedly shakes the psychic’s hand, saying, “Thank you! Amen!” Lol.

Runa looks at him confusedly and asks why he’s so happy at the news. Dong-man answers that this is how Soon-bum reacts when he’s sad, haha.

Jung-in glares in annoyance at her two buffoons while Dae-man asks for his reading, and she interrupts. She says crossly, “Is catching criminals a joke, that we’re including psychics?” Then, to Dong-man, “Translate.”

Dong-man cringes, then says to Runa, “Welcome to Korea.” Ahaha, he cracks me up. But also: shouldn’t our crack team be a little more careful about communicating things properly? Jung-in adds that it’s understandable that Runa wants to help, but this is dangerous work and she’s better off returning home to Japan. Dae-man-speak: “Please stay in Korea a long, long time! I’d like to be good friends with you.”

Runa looks skeptical at how much Jung-in said versus how much he translated, and he says, “Korean is longer than Japanese.” Pffft.

Tae-yeon joins the team, clearly fuming, but all he can ask is what Runa can contribute to the team. Jung-in is the most outraged, and while Tae-yeon generally agrees with her opinion, he also knows his hands are tied. So they stand by waiting while Runa begins her work, waiting for her to feel a sense of Min-young.

Runa “sees” Min-young walking in this neighborhood and starts following that vision down the sidewalk. The prosecutor team follows.

Min-young’s ghost (it’s really a vision of her past self) gets onto a bus, and Runa hops onboard, keeping her eye fixed on her. The prosecutors hop in their van to pursue; Soon-bum’s convinced Runa must be on to something, while Jung-in scoffs that she’s probably faking.

Runa makes a note of her surroundings and grabs a compass to get her bearings (so she’s smart). Interestingly, she picks out characters from the landmarks at the intersection, and lands on: ghost gate.

Then Min-young is kidnapped by a man in black and shoved into a van. Runa runs after it, but the spectral van is off in a flash.

Her mad dash puts her in the path of a truck, and at the last moment Tae-yeon tackles her out of its way.

There’s a moment between them, when her hand is on his chest—does she sense something about him? Is it attraction? Or is it nothing at all? Hmm…

At least now they can pinpoint the CCTV cameras to get the footage of the kidnapping. They see the car involved, but none of the angles gets a read on the license plate.

Runa explains about the ghost gate, saying that it’s part of the yin-yang and five elements theory, where there’s a door that ghosts use to travel back and forth. The sign posted at the intersection warning of accidents indicates a high death energy (ki), while there’s a fire station nearby full of fire energy, and a cold wind blowing in the northeast direction. A door exists there.

She confirms the date of kidnapping, which coincides with a particular day when a spirit that harasses humans is said to be gone, which makes it an opportune day… for the bad guys.

Tae-yeon thanks Runa for her help and dismisses her, but she requests to see a roster of everyone who disappeared on those days.

In a dingy room, a man gets a call informing him to turn on the TV. It’s the psychic program featuring Runa, and the man asks, “Is she the one?” His arm bears a familiar-looking tattoo.

Dr. Jo requests to see Tae-yeon, but chooses an unconventional meeting spot: a pojangmacha, where he drinks water out of a shot glass like it’s soju. Ha. He says he has to keep his mind clear for work, but chose this spot since it’s more “human” than the morgue; being at his job for twenty-some years, he feels his brain operating like a machine at times, seeing people as things.

Dr. Jo hands over a report, finding traces of a sedative in the victim, and tree powder under the fingernails. He also met with Min-young’s mother, who interprets her daughter’s death differently. Mom is inclined toward the supernatural and superstitious, having gone to a shaman who read the girl’s fortune and energy.

Mom brought the shaman in to exorcise that energy from the girl, but Min-young, being your average modern-day twentysomething, ignored Mom’s attempts and refused to participate in the rite.

Dr. Jo says they ought to take into consideration the coincidence that Min-young was kidnapped on that particular superstitious day, which Tae-yeon scoffs at. But Dr. Jo says that there are things science and logic can’t explain, and when you’re dealing with human issues, it’s best to consider everything.

Runa looks over the list of missing persons, and after flipping through a few reports, she hits upon a realization. She calls Dong-man from her taxi to tell him she’s figured out the motive. She asks Dong-man to translate her request to the taxi driver to take her back to the station, and the driver pulls over to take the call… giving Runa a look at her surroundings. The intersection, the fire station…

Runa realizes she’s in danger and fumbles to jump out of the car. One kidnapper tries to drug her, but she bites him and manages to run out into the street. The two men easily grab her, though, and drag her off. At least she’s able to drop a tarot card as she’s taken, leaving behind a clue.

Tae-yeon finds the card, but they’re too late to find other traces. He confirms today’s date—another one of those superstitious days. They don’t know what breakthrough Runa made in the case, but Dong-man does know why she wanted that roster: She sensed that there were other incidents in the past, and more to come.

Runa is taken to a fortune-teller’s lair—the same shaman Mom consulted regarding Min-young. Damn, she looks scary.

On to a nightclub, where a punk roofies a girls drink. Bastard. He’s guarded by three brutes posted while he gropes the unconscious girl, ugh.

Tae-yeon walks in (yay!) and easily knocks out the thugs with his vamp-enhanced fighting skills. He sits down in front of the punk, asking if he’s the one distributing the roofies, and asks for info on a guy with an arm tattoo of a snake.

That’s the guy driving the van carrying Runa, who wakes to find herself tied up and gagged. She takes out her lighter and cuts her palm with it. To leave a trail?

Dong-man reports a pattern he’s found with Runa’s list of abductees. Three of them turned up dead in mountain locations and were recorded as suicides, and all were students at the same university.

Soon-bum tracks down that tree powder to one lumberyard, and hears that the powder is made by shamans and fortune-tellers. That leads him to one psychic who uses that wood like incense, though by the looks of it he’s really a quack. The guy starts acting like Min-young’s ghost is next to him, but he gets his story all mixed up and Soon-bum knows he’s a big ol’ phony.

Despite his reading being an act, at least the guy can put his fortune-telling knowledge to work and he spots a similarity between Min-young and the other disappeared girls, reading their fortunes. Soon-bum adds Runa to the pile, and the quack gasps. She’s got the most powerful energy, and put all together, she completes the set.

Tae-yeon arrives at an apartment building, to the home of our perp, Jang Joo-hyuk. He finds the apartment empty, but there’s a list of resumés inside, and each one belongs to a victim.

Soon-bum continues his own trail, arriving at the shaman’s home base. When he arrives in her room, though, he finds her lying in a pool of blood on the floor… with one kidnapper standing over her. The perp takes advantage of Soon-bum’s shock to make a run for it, dashing out the door. Soon-bum runs after him.

Snake Arm arrives home, and although Tae-yeon hides out of sight, the killer immediately knows someone’s been by. He runs out, and Tae-yeon chases him through the neighborhood.

Finally Snake Arm grabs a passing child and holds him up as a human shield, brandishing a broken bottle at Tae-yeon. I love that Tae-yeon just advances ominously anyway, and easily kicks the bottle away.

Soon-bum tackles his guy and wrestles him down. The perp reaches for his weapon and sticks it into Soon-bum’s gut. Oh no! Soon-bum freezes, registering the impact, and shoves the guy’s hand aside. The switchblade didn’t pop out! HAHA. It was a fakeout, and Soon-bum almost believed he was stabbed.

Tae-yeon grabs Snake Arm by the throat and shoves him back. And then the camera pans down… to the knife sticking out of HIS gut. Aaaaack! You totally made me relax my guard, and now Tae-yeon’s stabbed!

Tae-yeon falls to his knees and Snake Arm runs away.

And gets hit by a truck.

BWAHAHA. Seriously, drama? Did you just Truck ‘o Doom the perp? That’s awesome. So droll, in an unexpected moment.

Tae-yeon goes home and takes a shower, which is totally necessary to show us that the huge gash in his side, which looks better than I’d expect of a stab victim without supervamp healing powers. Yup, it’s required viewing, because otherwise how would we know there were no other injuries sustained?

We only get a few shots of Tae-yeon from a few different angles, but maybe you can be like Coroner Jo and piece ’em together. You know, for science and stuff.

Then Tae-yeon vamps out, and the cut heals over right in front of our eyes.

Soon-bum interrogates his criminal, and by interrogates I mean shoves his face in his noodles in disgust that he could have an appetite after killing five women.

Tae-yeon arrives looking pale (well, paler than usual) and takes over the questioning: So Noodles and Snake Arm were paid big bucks to kill these people, is that right? But he doesn’t know why it had to be on those days, or why the unknown client requested that the shaman be killed too. Noodles doesn’t know where Runa is, because they split up tasks and Snake Arm was the one to bury her alive.

Speaking of whom, Runa comes to in a coffin, looking around using her lighter. Oh, honey no. Shouldn’t you be conserving your oxygen and not burning it all up? Worse yet, the light allows her to see what she’s been buried next to: a dead body. Eeeeek.

Runa freaks out and cries.

In a hospital, a sad-looking father tends to a young man lying catatonic in his bed, assuring him he’ll get better soon. The prosecutor team arrives and demands to know where Runa’s buried. Sad-sack Dad just looks outside—there’s a grave there.

The team gets to work digging, while Runa screams and beats on her coffin. Soon the diggers reach wood, and Runa pounds harder in excitement. The prosecutor hauls the cover off… and the coffin is empty. Oh damn.

Meanwhile, Runa’s coffin top starts caving in, and dirt pours in.

The prosecutors know the clock is ticking—she’s got at most two hours left to live. Dr. Jo joins in on the interrogation, watching with the men as Jung-in questions the culprit.

Dad—a professor at the school where he picked the victims—says he did it to save his remaining son. A flashback shows us his consultation with the shaman, who told him that they should bury Runa (based on the energy she possessed) with his first son, and that would cure his second. It’s a hereditary illness that struck down Dad’s parents and siblings, and both sons.

Dad insists that he tried everything else, but hospitals were no use and this was his last option. Soon-bum voices the popular opinion, that Dad’s effing nuts and full of bullshit, but Dr. Jo offers up a more sympathetic view. He explains that Dad was so in pain and unable to handle the circumstances that he turned to whatever he could to keep hope alive. He asks for to speak with the man, thinking he might be able to get to the root of the man’s motivation and thus Runa’s location.

Dr. Jo sits with the man and commiserates with him over the disease, a type of muscular dystrophy. He shocks everyone by saying that he has it, too—a type that could strike him dead at any moment. He didn’t want to pass it along to his children, and so he never married. Dr. Jo asks Dad what he thinks would’ve happened if his (Dr. Jo’s) father had sought to cure him through victimizing others, saying that the man’s son wouldn’t want to benefit through others’ murders.

And yet, Dad still insists he doesn’t know where Runa is buried. Tae-yeon presses harder, asking what the purpose of hanging the women on those mountaintops was. Soon-bum notices that Tae-yeon gives the wrong mountain for one of the girls, wondering what he’s up to.

Dad catches the error, and Tae-yeon confirms that yes, the girl was in fact found on that (wrong) mountain. Dad starts muttering to himself, saying that’s wrong, that she was supposed to be hanged on the other mountain, because of the way they were supposed to be protected by the four directions. He starts to cry that his son’s recovery has been messed up, and Tae-yeon immediately heads out to puzzle this out.

Using a map, he marks the murder sites. Dad referred to the four directions. Runa mentioned the evil spirit that wandered the four directions. He connects the four, and notes the park at the center. Bingo.

A search party moves out. Runa’s still alive in her coffin, trying her best to hold up the collapsing lid. She starts to lose strength and they’re closing in perilously close to the two-hour mark.

Tae-yeon works his way up the mountainside… and senses something. Or rather, smells. It’s Runa’s blood, from the cut she gave herself, fallen on the ground. His eyes do their thing, and he sees the blood droplets literally lift into the air, forming a breadcrumb-like trail for him to follow.

He races after the blood, and at some point the drops just end. He radios in: “I found her.”

They party digs madly through the dirt until they come to the coffin. Runa’s still alive, and they pull her up to safety. Aw, it’s cute that Jung-in’s the one to do the comforting, given how testy she was to her earlier. Phew, case closed.

At the airport, Jung-in apologizes for earlier and holds out a hand, saying they ought to see each other again. Runa shakes and assures them that yes, they will be meeting soon. That one’s not so much a promise as it seems a premonition.

Tae-yeon steps aside to address Runa, and then we get a sudden cut to the van afterward, with Dong-man and Soon-bum erupting into giggles. Why, what embarrassing thing happened? Tell me!

We flash back to Runa’s parting words, which were happy fortunes she’d read into their futures: Dong-man becomes a full-time emloyee, while Soon-bum should forget Sook-ja and seek a new love (which Dong-man translated as “Sook-ja is doing her best to find you, so you’ll meet her soon”).

Jung-in, on the other hand, wears a glum face. Runa had told her she’s struggling with a painful love right now, and advised her to keep in mind that depending on her choice, that love might end in ruin. Oy. Nothing like a dire fortune to convince you it’s a real one. Jung-in casts a look forward at Tae-yeon, probably wondering which choice won’t lead to pain and tears.

Tae-yeon had asked why Runa had left him a clue. Runa leaned in close and said into his ear, “Because I know what you are.” Oooh.

And then she’d kissed his cheek. It’s hard to say which has him more flabbergasted. Hee!

With a hand to his face and a finger across his lip, Runa had left him with, “Good luck, vampire.”

In the woods, Park Hoon continues his own hunt. Oh, right, I’d totally forgotten about the teaser. He’s in the woods looking at footprints in the ground, and hears the approach of feet. On alert, he whirls around and shoots his gun.

The attacker grabs his arm and the shot goes wide. He grabs Park Hoon by the throat and lifts him into the air—damn, stronger than a vampire? What are you?

The assailant’s eyes turn red and his fangs emerge. Is this the muzzled test subject from the mad scientist’s underground bunker? He sinks his fangs into Park Hoon, who clutches at his bloody neck.

The man looks feral but his voice is calm as he says, “Don’t follow me anymore.” Off he goes, leaving Park Hoon gasping in pain. But the lawyer vamps out too, and starts to heal himself.

 
COMMENTS

We’re seeing the hints of a few really interesting things with this episode, on a thematic/character level, which is something I really like seeing because I’m all about the crime procedural being more than just one crime of the week.

I already like the new doctor because he’s much more interesting the flirty coroner of last year, who was just there because we needed a coroner character. This year the character has more personality, and the actor (Lee Kyung-young) gives him such a nice color and complexity: We get the sense that he’s a good guy, that he wants to help Tae-yeon, but he also knows too much and is too smart to be completely benign… right? So even if he turns out to be completely in our hero’s corner, he’s still enough to keep you on edge a little (and Tae-yeon as well), because he’s an unknown element. You get the sense that he could go toe to toe with Tae-yeon, and maybe even come out on top in the right circumstances. Not physically, of course, but he’s much quicker on the uptake than Tae-yeon’s encountered before.

But what takes the doc from being merely an interesting side character into being thematically relevant is the way he presents the other side of the equation, always bringing in humanity back into the question. He uses the term to mean human-ness, as in, the unpredictability of the human heart. It’s humanness versus science, and he presents the Mulder to Tae-yeon’s Scully, in one sense.

Which is perhaps ironic since Tae-yeon’s the supernatural being and Dr. Jo’s the science-minded analyst. But in personality, Tae-yeon’s the one always scoffing at the paranormal answer. Dr. Jo presents a perspective that hasn’t been strongly represented in the group before, and his calm, thorough, seeking mind could be a real boon to the team. If, you know, he uses his powers for good and not evil.

I was really pleased with the use of Tae-yeon’s blood sense in this episode, by tracking Runa to her grave, because I feel like this drama sometimes leaves the whole vampire premise at the door and just goes headlong into crime drama. It’s like they figure one blood vision early on fulfills their vampire quotient, which is fine and all given that they’re at least working in an overarching vampire mystery—but I’m so much more a fan of when they work in Tae-yeon’s abilities to the crime of the day itself. Otherwise he’s just as smart prosecutor who heals real fast.

(Not that I mind those healing scenes. Just to, you know, check that he’s fine of course. That’s the only reason.)

I have no idea if we’ll be seeing Runa in an extended story arc this season, but if she makes good on that prediction, that would totally make my day. I don’t care for more of her psychic visions because TWO vision-seers on one team sort of feels like overlapping mythologies, but I love her dynamic with the group. Or more precisely, I love the dynamic that she introduces into the group—Jung-in gets cranky, Soon-bum gets even more buffoonish, Dong-man gets simultaneously flirty and shifty (due to all the lying), and Tae-yeon can’t quite decide what to do with her.

I like that most—his utter befuddlement over what her big revelation means. He was never a fan of her inclusion into the group anyway (which is reason enough to make it interesting), but to realize she knows what he is? She’s not holding it over his head or anything, but it’s always unsettling to realize one of your biggest secrets is in the hand of someone you’re not quite sure you trust to know it.

Plus, a budding friendship with Jung-in AND a crackling chemistry with Tae-yeon, both at the same time, would really make my day. Alas I know better than to get my hopes up. But I can wish for just one more taste, somewhere down the line, can’t I?

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