Gap-dong: Episode 4
Ah, we get something of our first main twist in Episode 4, as the investigation heats up and Mu-yeom finds himself backed into (even more of) a corner. Everyone we care about believes in his innocence, which is at least a little heartwarming, but ultimately ineffectual given that he finds himself at the mercy of those in power. And sadly, those blessed with an abundance of power are not equally blessed with an abundance of intelligence or wisdom. With cops this incompetent, who says your serial killers have to be geniuses?
SONG OF THE DAY
Daybreak – “에라 모르겠다” (Eh, I don’t know) [ Download ]
EPISODE 4 RECAP
In the straw artist’s workshop, Mu-yeom is caught pretty much as close to red-handed as you can get without actually being the guilty party. Chul-gon sees him with the dead body and takes his presence as more proof that Mu-yeom is the killer. He orders him arrested, and while the squad is reluctant, they comply.
Mu-yeom is escorted out in handcuffs, in front of a crowd of reporters that has gathered at the crime scene. Despite wearing a mask to hide his face, he is recognized and his photo taken, no doubt to be trotted out in the news shortly.
In her trailer, Maria asks Tae-oh if he’s Gap-dong, wondering if that’s a dangerous question. Tae-oh laughs as though he finds her joke hilarious, explaining that he was worried about her, particularly with all the fuss about today being the forecasted murder day for Victim 2.
She asks why he’s so worried, and he shares an interesting tidbit from his prison days. “Oh Maria belongs to Gap-dong” was graffiti’d in the shower, and he plays up the concerned role to the hilt.
Maria is shaken to hear it and her hands clench, but she forces a smile and asks for more information, which we get in flashback: A lone figure showers in a dark bathroom, his fingers writing words in the steamed-up mirror: “Oh Maria belongs to Gap-dong.” We never see his face directly, but it sure looks like Tae-oh, who wipes the words clean before other inmates see it.
For what it’s worth, the other officers don’t seem to believe Mu-yeom is the murderer, although they wonder how he wound up at the murder site. Mu-yeom receives the full criminal treatment, having a DNA sample taken and his clothes confiscated. It’s sweet that partner Hyung-nyun sticks up for his buddy, and so does Officer Young-ae, although her outburst defending him comes at an awkward time, as she catches him mid-strip-down. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mind, though.
Mu-yeom is interrogated by Section Chief Cha, who wants to know why he was at the workshop and why straw was found on him. Mu-yeom explains being tipped off by the riddle he heard, but he plays this one close to the vest and doesn’t reveal his entire thought process, saying merely that he had a hunch about straw that turned out true.
(To explain the riddle more clearly: The newspaper informant said that he omitted a detail in his tip, and if that omission were figured out it would lead to the answer. It’s vague enough that Mu-yeom doesn’t know what to do with that info, until Ji-wool asks him about Victim 2 from twenty years ago, saying that the body’s discovery location wasn’t in the news reports. The omission was that Victim 2 was found covered in straw, so Mu-yeom goes off searching for straw-related clues.)
I suppose Mu-yeom doesn’t want to give everything up to Chul-gon, which is why he doesn’t make a more compelling defense for himself. But he knows he’s pretty much screwed, cursing that the bastard has trapped him well and good. And that’s why he can’t do anything when Section Chief Cha declares, albeit reluctantly, that he is now a prime suspect in the Gap-dong case.
Ji-wool and her temple family huddle around the television to watch the report naming Mu-yeom as the suspect. The young monks-in-training cry indignantly for their poor “uncle,” knowing he’s not guilty, but Ji-wool forces herself to pull it together, promising the boys that she’ll do whatever it takes to save Mu-yeom.
Profiler Han hears the news via phone call, and his wife guesses that he’s been left out of the loop again, seeing as how he’s stuck at home instead of on the job. She also worries about this incident having anything to do with “our child,” just as Maria arrives at the door. Ohhh, is this her family?
Sure enough, Maria greets her mother, and we find that she only recently moved out of her city apartment. When Mom asks if she’s dating anyone, Maria says coyly that there’s this one guy she’d like to get some profiling insight on, turning to Profiler Han (her stepfather).
I suspect her parents don’t know she lives in a trailer, and she hasn’t told them about taking a new job at the prison hospital either. Profiler Han hears this with dismay, realizing that she did this in response to him telling her about the Gap-dong graffiti. He warns that if Gap-dong is really an inmate there, he could recognize her.
Maria just requests that he profile Mu-yeom for her, and asks if there’s the slightest possibility of him being the criminal. Profiler Han says no, but has a caveat: “The saddest truth I’ve learned from working in this field is that people sometimes do incomprehensible things.”
The detectives are briefed in Victim 2’s case, and while the evidence doesn’t confirm Mu-yeom’s culpability, neither does it clear him. Sadly, Mu-yeom has no alibi for her estimated time of death and his cell phone’s last signal came from nearby the murder site—so it’s feasible that he killed her, then walked to the bus stop and called in the tip. Partner Hyung-nyun balks that Mu-yeom was attacked that night, and therefore his attacker was likely the criminal, but sadly his theory gets shot down as ridiculous. God, these cops make my blood boil.
Chul-gon drops by Mu-yeom’s interrogation room to admit to being wrong, but don’t get too excited: He clarifies that he’d thought Gap-dong was back in action, but now suspects that Mu-yeom is a copycat. Mu-yeom asks what motivation he would have, and Chul-gon supposes, “Because of me.”
He congratulates Mu-yeom for making the inspired decision to become a cop, because pretending to work on the case would allow him to evade suspicion. As for his motivation, Chul-gon says being allowed to walk free for a crime that you were suspected of would constitute the ultimate crime.
Mu-yeom can only say sarcastically that he sure is a genius, and Chul-gon promises to prove his hypothesis in due time.
Detective Ki-ri is chagrined to find that the prosecutor refuses to hand over a warrant for Mu-yeom readily. Prosecutor Seo is working his first case and refuses to do a slapdash job of it—if Ki-ri wants that warrant, then he’d better convince the prosecutor that it’s merited. Well, it’s nice to know there are some professionals who can still do their job properly.
Since another way to get a warrant is to have Mu-yeom deemed mentally unwell, the police
send him off for psychiatric evaluation. Hyung-nyun encourages Mu-yeom to stick out the evaluation as best he can because the prosecutor is on their side, and sends him off.
Next, Hyung-nyun seeks out Tae-oh at the cafe and asks for his alibi of that night Victim 2 died. Tae-oh has one handy, having had a session with Maria, and that gets him crossed off the list of possible leads.
At the prison hospital, Maria pores over inmate files when suddenly a whistle sounds in the distance. She freezes in terror, then bolts outside to follow the source. Notably, the camera lingers on the patient file left open, which is the mysterious new face we’d seen yesterday, a middle-aged inmate named Choi Tae-shik.
Maria tracks the sound and ends up in the front yard, but there’s nothing suspicious about the scene. Her arrival attracts the admiration of the men, who ogle and crack crude jokes. And then the timid Poopy speaks up, saying, “But Dr. Maria… belongs to Gap-dong.”
At that, suspicious inmate Choi Tae-shik looks up in interest, watching Poopy argue that they wouldn’t want to get Gap-dong angry for claiming his woman.
Mu-yeom is brought in to the hospital, cuffed and escorted by police officers, which is a glaring clue to visitors that he’s the infamous killer detective. Whispers follow him as bystanders give him a wide berth—all but one man, the victim’s angry father, who attacks Mu-yeom with his cane. He screams for Mu-yeom to return his daughter and be put to death. An officer fends him off, but in the tussle, the father is shoved and slides across the floor—right past the broken second-floor railing, which is missing some bars.
Mu-yeom acts fast and darts forward to grab the man’s arm before he slides over the edge, though he struggles with his wrists still cuffed together. The old man’s hand starts slipping out of his grasp, but Maria joins him at the railing and helps pull the old man to safety. Dude, cops, what the hell are you doing just standing around?
Standing at the edge of the crowd is Tae-oh, who’d come here to see Maria. He mutters to himself, “Be careful. I told you, Oh Maria belongs to Gap-dong.”
As Maria tends to Mu-yeom’s scraped wrists, he jokes that it’s not fair to have her in charge of his evaluation because she’s never seen him at his best. He swears he’s actually got a trustworthy (and also chic!) side, and then wonders why she’s not afraid of him like everyone else. She just says he’s her patient.
Mu-yeom is hooked up to a brain scan that’ll serve as a sort of lie detector, and Maria begins by showing him photographs while monitoring the readings. She advises him to answer very seriously, because one bad answer could mistakenly peg him as the criminal.
She shows him a photo of the victim’s studio, which he recognizes, and then prefaces the next image by describing her as a witness who reported him near the scene of the crime. When the photo flashes, we see that it’s actually the victim.
Mu-yeom racks his brains trying to recognize the woman he’s told he should recognize, but he can’t place her for the life of him. Maria waits anxiously for the result to process, half-afraid of the answer. And then she breathes a sigh of relief when it spits out the result: He’s never seen the victim before.
As Maria conducts the test, the door behind her sloooowly opens. Goddammit Tae-oh, why the hell are you dressed like a clown? He watches quietly, but doesn’t make his presence known.
After the test is done, Mu-yeom is champing at the bit to find out who that woman was. When he hears Maria’s explanation, he marvels at her trickery, having worried himself sick for not recognizing the picture. She points out that the results were in his favor, and then it’s time for him to be led away.
As he turns to go, Mu-yeom is struck with a thought, recalling her comments about Gap-dong that are oddly insightful. But just as he asks whether she’s made any new discoveries, that whistling sounds in the hallway.
Mu-yeom is restrained by the cops, but Maria darts out to follow the sound, arriving at a birthday party in the lounge. The sight of one patient-inmate being led away strikes recognition in Maria, and she runs after him, grabbing his arm when she catches up to him—it’s our mysterious Choi Tae-shik. But when she asks if he had been whistling, Choi just smiles blandly and says no.
Maria makes it back to the birthday party feeling dejected, having hit another dead end (or so she thinks). She doesn’t even notice clown Tae-oh standing nearby watching her, getting a thrill out of everything.
On her way back to the office, Maria makes a discovery: Two balloons float idly in the hallway, and just coincidentally happen to be placed around the ceiling-mounted security camera.
Mu-yeom waits for Maria’s return, whistling Gap-dong’s tune and asking why it stirs such a strong reaction in her. She informs him that it’s Gap-dong’s whistle, and that she learned of it from Profiler Han, who heard it from the original witness. Apparently the whistle is a warning (or taunt, perhaps?) for her to hide herself carefully.
He wonders why Profiler Han told her that, and she reveals that he is both her teacher and her stepfather. To her surprise, Mu-yeom grabs her hand excitedly, pleased to hear it.
Maria adds that the witness only recalled the whistle detail a few years ago, which is why it wasn’t included in the investigation reports. Mu-yeom thanks her for the info, saying that now he’s even more certain than ever that Gap-dong is alive.
Maria asks a nurse about Choi Tae-shik, who suffers from depression and has attempted suicide multiple times. Ironically enough, the nurses call him Gentleman Choi because of his polite manners.
Maria finds Gentleman Choi in the pottery room and observes his hands in particular, thinking back to the day Gap-dong had forced the two girls to play rock-scissors-paper for their lives. But she can’t make any judgments from sight alone, and with a sigh she heads off, not noticing that Choi has noticed her.
At the cafe, Tae-oh tenses when a voice growls at him, “Ryu Tae-oh, you’re under arrest.” But it’s only Ji-wool, holding out a finger-gun and citing his crime as being too handsome.
She shows him preliminary sketches for Part 3 of her webtoon, again taking the original case as the basis of her story. But she doesn’t know more than the general details and is stumped on how to make her villain kill his victim, and asks Tae-oh what he would do. He sighs that he has no idea, but agrees to Ji-wool’s request to think about it.
He takes a look at her drawings, and ack! She’s just given him a murder manual! He reads the scene where a woman breaks a heel on the day of a job interview, and the killer offers to lend her his shoes.
Chul-gon is impatient for the results of Mu-yeom’s DNA test, but because they’re taking too long, he intends to put in a call. But just before he can, the district attorney calls him with surprising instructions—halt those proceedings.
The monk visits Mu-yeom in his jail cell and promises to buy him the best lawyer he can, even if he has to sell his temple to do it. Aw. But Mu-yeom says he may not be able to get out soon, and that he’s most afraid that the monk will receive scorn from the world for taking Mu-yeom in and raising him.
Chul-gon is called in for a meeting with the district attorney and the upper brass of the police department. To his utter shock, the officials tell Chul-gon that they can’t proceed with the investigation. Chul-gon can’t understand why, since in his mind they’re so close to getting a potential match with Gap-dong’s DNA. He vows to continue regardless of the reasons his superiors have for protecting Mu-yeom.
So now the higher-ups have to admit the uncomfortable truth: There is no Gap-dong DNA. That pile of dung left at a murder site has long been destroyed. The information was classified for years, because they couldn’t let it be known that they didn’t have any DNA and give Gap-dong the peace of mind to keep killing.
Chul-gon sputters in fury, thinking of the twenty years he’s hung his hopes on that DNA. He leaves the meeting in a thoroughly dark mood, so when a drunk man chooses to pick a fight with him in the street, he does not react kindly. The drunkard starts ripping the badges and stars from Chul-gon’s uniform, and Chul-gon shoves him off, inches from slamming his fist into his face. The man’s friends jump in before he can and pull the guy off, apologizing for their friend.
As he walks off, a flashback informs us of the conclusion of the meeting: The police director says that their fear is that a third murder will occur while Mu-yeom is in custody. So they’ll have to let him go—because if Mu-yeom is the culprit, they need to be able to pin a third case on him.
When a woman enters the cafe and sits down, Tae-oh sizes her up with interest. There are short pieces of cut hair on her blouse, and he asks if she’s a hairstylist. And wouldn’t you know, the woman says she just came back from an interview where she had to cut hair. He crows to himself, “Third victim selected! Woman on her way back from an interview.”
Determined to sneak a visit to Mu-yeom in jail, Ji-wool borrows a police uniform and is led inside the station by Officer Young-ae. Thankfully Chul-gon is too distracted with his thoughts to notice anything amiss when she salutes him nervously.
Hyung-nyun fills Mu-yeom in on the latest, having heard that Chul-gon met with the police brass. Everyone at the station assumes this is bad news, and that Chul-gon is planning some sort of measure against Mu-yeom.
But it’s a different story altogether when Chul-gon slaps down a document in front of Mu-yeom and tells him to sign his resignation. In exchange for quitting the force, he’ll be released from jail.
The officers gape at this twist, while Mu-yeom figures the DNA test must’ve not panned out. He asks if the higher-ups ordered him fired, and Chul-gon lets him think it, calling Mu-yeom a lucky bastard.
Mu-yeom laughs in his face, then taunts, “You all are making a mistake. Because your hypothesis was right.” Wait, what? Chul-gon’s eyes widen, as do everyone else’s. Is he confessing?
Mu-yeom continues, “I said, I’m the real Gap-dong.” Hyung-nyun and Young-ae realize this is terribly incriminating for Mu-yeom and fumble to stop recording the discussion, but they’re stopped by Officer Ki-ri.
Ji-wool has snuck into the observation room, and at this latest twist she screams, “No!” She insists that they’ve done something to coerce Mu-yeom and cries out that he has to get a grip on himself before she’s shoved out.
Chul-gon demands to know if Mu-yeom’s confessing. Mu-yeom sneers that he can’t be joking, surely: “You killed them. Those women died because you came back, do you know that?”
Mu-yeom laughs that Chul-gon must be mighty confused to hear a confession, especially right when Mu-yeom was being let go. He laughs mirthlessly, glaring at Chul-gon. If looks could kill.
Okay, clearly he’s working a ploy, right? My first reaction was to gape in confusion, much like the room full of confused cops, but it seems reasonable to conclude that Mu-yeom is thinking on the fly to do whatever he can to remain in jail—and what better way to prove his innocence than to be in custody when Gap-dong strikes again? It’s the same fear harbored by the police brass, and it follows that he’s deeply suspicious of anything Chul-gon does to help him. Because in the long run, any aid from Chul-gon is more likely to be a strike against him than anything.
The police strike decision to let Mu-yeom go strikes me as deeply cowardly, which I suppose is in character with what we know about the police in general but is infuriating to watch as a viewer. Chul-gon, I can actually understand on this score—he sincerely believes Mu-yeom is guilty so he’ll do anything to nail him. But the police superiors seem more concerned about bad press than whether Mu-yeom is really the killer, which is just so ineffectual and craven. Though not surprising, since bureaucracies are so often more concerned with covering their own asses than helping people or doing their jobs.
I like that Mu-yeom is thinking fast on his feet and offering up opposition, rather than letting Chul-gon cow him with his use (and misuse) of power. But on the flipside, I can’t help but also be frustrated when Mu-yeom doesn’t do more to protest his innocence, or clear his name, or offer up alternatives. I can understand why he’s leery of that since he just wasted a lot of breath trying to do that and finding Chul-gon impossible to reason with, and perhaps he figures that’s a battle not worth fighting. Maybe his energies are best used going after the killer and not worrying about his own reputation. But agghhh, I hate that he’s so backed into the corner with everyone ganging up to throw him under the bus.
I still think that the show has misstepped by revealing Tae-oh’s nature from the outset, because while Lee Joon does the creepy killer thing well, surely this is going to get old before we’re done. We’re only on Victim 3 and already I find this whole process of finding and killing victims to be rather rote, which isn’t a thing you want to feel about a serial-killer thriller, is it? I do hope we’re not just going to get through one victim every week with little in the way of plot twists.
The arrival of Gentleman Choi is a welcome one, then, in that he adds a different color to the villain’s side. But I hope he’s not our Gap-dong, because that’s too easy. I want a little more mystery all around, because while our good guys are in the dark about the killers, we’re not. And if we aren’t given that sense of simultaneous discovery, I fear I’m going to lose interest in the details of the case.
In the meantime, I’m going to take this show more as a showcase for acting and psychological profiles, which remain interesting whether or not we know who’s the killer. Yoon Sang-hyun is nailing his Crazy Monk fervor, and while I pretty much want to claw out Sung Dong-il’s eyes whenever he’s onscreen (and especially when he’s smirking, gah), he’s certainly doing an effective job at the guy we love to hate. I’m not bored when he’s onscreen, mostly because my blood is boiling and my rage meter operating at capacity. Pure hatred is better than indifference, right?
- Gap-dong: Episode 3
- Gap-dong: Episode 2
- Gap-dong: Episode 1
- Gap-dong’s special webtoon high on chills and thrills
- Oh Snap! Killer on the loose
- Mystery-thriller drama Gap-dong’s main posters
- Character previews abound with tension for Gap-dong
- First look at detective Yoon Sang-hyun in serial-killer drama Gap-dong
- Yoon Sang-hyun’s suspense thriller Gap-dong moves to weekends