Gap-dong: Episode 5
Ah, finally a big twist in the case. I’ve been waiting for this, and am pleased that we get to take our case in a new direction now, because it’s what I wanted from the outset—something a little more complex, a little more thoughtful. And not only do our good guys make some important strides forward in the case, they also take a huge step forward on the cooperation front—in that they start doing that. All in all, we’re taking positive strides, and that’s a welcome development.
SONG OF THE DAY
Juuno with Zitten – “Poly Evil” [ Download ]
EPISODE 5 RECAP
To everyone’s shock, Mu-yeom confesses to being the killer, laughing maniacally and signing a written confession. He outlines how he met Victim No. 2 (the straw artist) at the bus stop, chatted with her over tea, and then proceeded to kill her.
Maria gets word of these developments and meets with Chul-gon, who has an immediate flash of recognition, thinking of the traumatized victim from the original Gap-dong case. She doesn’t reveal that this is who she is, but he comments that she looks like a girl he once knew, saying, “I hope she grew up well.”
Maria brings up the results of the brain scan she did on Mu-yeom—the one proving that he’d never seen Victim 2. Chul-gon says that he already confessed, but she suggests that the confession was fake—Mu-yeom must have motive behind confessing. And that’s too true for Chul-gon to ignore.
Mu-yeom is taken to the scene of the crime for a reenactment, directed by police to demonstrate how he killed the victim. Chul-gon watches intently, Maria’s words ringing in his ears: “He has decided to become Gap-dong—in order to catch Gap-dong.”
Mu-yeom hesitates when he’s presented with a cord to fashion into the fishing knot—as we’ve seen with his shoelaces, he doesn’t know how to tie knots. But Chul-gon orders the team to skip this part, to their shock. Section Chief Cha is disturbed by the holes in the case, but Chul-gon says Mu-yeom is pretending to be bad at the reenactment purposely.
Section Chief Cha is intent on reporting this to the higher-ups, and protests when Chul-gon holds him back to request that he keep quiet for the time being, saying that he needs to figure something out. After Gap-dong is caught, he’ll reveal everything himself. I’m encouraged by Cha’s instincts, though worried that he’ll cave to Chul-gon’s railroading.
Tae-oh gets his plan going for his next copycat murder, having selected the victim—the hairstylist who had gone on a job interview. He engineers a run-in with her as she’s leaving a shop—wearing new shoes, which was a scene depicted in Ji-wool’s new webtoon—and accidentally-on-purpose drops his gloves as he walks by. She recognizes him from the cafe, and Tae-oh plays it like a welcome coincidence.
He flatters her by saying that she’s to pretty to go around dressed so nicely with today being the predicted day for Murder No. 3, but she says the culprit has already been caught, since news of Mu-yeom’s confession is all over the news. When Tae-oh asks to borrow her phone, she happily hands it over.
Maria paces in her trailer that night, fiddling with the whistle Mu-yeom gave her that she now wears around her neck. He’d he’d told her to use to call for help and she gives it a try.
Just then she gets a knock at her door: It’s Ji-wool, having heard that Maria conducted a psychiatric evaluation on Mu-yeom. Voice trembling, she asks if Mu-yeom’s truly out of his mind, because there’s no way he could have made such a confession without being crazy.
Meanwhile in the woods, our hairstylist victim stumbles along in bare feet, trying to get away from her hunter. She’s scared and slow, and Tae-oh has no trouble keeping up with her on a menacingly relentless pursuit.
The police chief hears that Mu-yeom isn’t actually a real suspect and gives Chul-gon a reaming, ordering him to release Mu-yeom from custody. It looks like Section Chief Cha went over his head to report him, which makes me relieved for both his personal integrity and the concept of police integrity as a whole. Chul-gon repeats a request similar to the one he’d made to Cha, asking the chief for a bit more time—there’s a question he has that he has to figure out.
Chul-gon goes in for another interrogation round, asking why Mu-yeom burned his father’s bloodstained jacket twenty years ago, just after Gap-dong killed his third victim. But Mu-yeom only says, “I’ll never tell you.”
Enraged, Chul-gon picks up the folding metal chair, lifts it, and then—holy shit—whacks Mu-yeom in the head with it. Geezus. And Mu-yeom can do nothing, with his hands cuffed to the table.
Flashback to twenty years ago. Young Mu-yeom has shut himself in at home for days following his father’s death, causing some neighbors to worry for his well-being, especially since there’s nobody to take him in. That night he ventures out to steal a chicken to eat, but as he’s gorging himself, the sight of his bloodstained clothes (from butchering the fowl) triggers a memory in him, and he is literally sick at the thought.
Mu-yeom vomits and sobs, thinking of a time when his father had brought him chicken to eat, his jacket spattered with blood. Which means there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for his other jacket having blood on it. Which means he suspected his father of murder wrongfully, and now he’s wracked with guilt, wondering why his father didn’t argue his innocence.
In the woods, the hunt continues. Tae-oh’s enjoying himself, taking his time tracking his victim as she scrambles away. Then as Tae-oh advances, he begins to whistle.
The detectives watch the interrogation from the video screen outside the room, but Chul-gon shoves the camera away to obscure the view. Then he grabs a stack of files and slams that into Mu-yeom’s head, then overturns the table, sending Mu-yeom crashing down with it. Screaming like a maniac, he starts stomping on Mu-yeom, then slams the chair onto him again. Good lord. He is a nut. Nobody should give him power, ever.
Partner Hyung-nyun tries to barge in, but lackey Ki-ri holds him back, telling him, “There’s nobody who can stop either one of them right now.” Right, either man, because somebody really needs to stop Mu-yeom from all that lying there in the fetal position.
Back to the woods. What does it say that the brutal serial killing scenes are a welcome break from Chul-gon’s abusiveness? Ponders.
The victim huddles to herself, trying to hide from Tae-oh’s view. Even scarier than increasingly loud whistling is when the whistle suddenly cuts out. Tae-oh finds her behind a boulder and chides her for not hiding well enough, and she starts begging for her life, sputtering that she’s sorry and it was all her fault and please don’t kill her. Tae-oh wonders, “Why do you all say you’re wrong?” He supposes, “Ah, for trusting too much in incompetent police officers.”
He takes out her phone and uploads a new status into her messaging app: “When your mind is fried, traveling is the best! Where do you think I am?”
In her trailer, Maria fills Ji-wool in on her opinion of Mu-yeom’s innocence. Calm now, Ji-wool marvels at Maria’s ability to profess his innocence in the face of everyone else’s accusations, and her brief flare of jealousy settles down when Maria just says that she finds Ji-wool’s adoration of Mu-yeom admirable and appealing.
Ji-wool supposes that a cool doctor like Maria would have no business liking a poor detective (though Maria’s reaction suggests to me that she’s aware of her attraction to him), then tries to reinforce that by telilng her a few things to make Mu-yeom seem less attractive. Like how he has no house, and how he’s likely to become a monk.
Just then, Maria gets a text from Tae-oh, asking to see her.
Even after weathering a beating, Mu-yeom still refuses to give up his jacket-burning motivation. Chul-gon admits that his heart believes he’s Gap-dong but his head is telling him otherwise, which is the closest we’ve ever seen him being fair about this whole business. Mu-yeom says that he can’t tell him now about the jacket, but he will “when the time is right.” He gives his word on it, and there’s something about his earnest appeal that reminds Chul-gon of himself.
And that, more than anything, is what finally turns the light bulb on in Chul-gon’s admittedly dim head. Struck dumb, he wonders to himself, “Could he… actually be working toward the same goal as me?” Oh my god. This is the first time you considered that possibility?
Chul-gon asks, “Do you know why a hypothesis is a hypothesis? Because it can be wrong.” So he’ll take this gamble.
Mu-yeom resigns his job and is released. He collects his Gap-dong notebook from his desk, then gives his colleagues a brief goodbye. Chul-gon pauses to issue one more word of warning, though, sneering that a beast cannot hide his true instinct, and that he’ll catch him with his own hands.
Mu-yeom fumes, then says he’ll have to collect what’s owed him, as Chul-gon lost their bet. Chul-gon holds out his finger tauntingly, asking if he’s going to take it. Mu-yeom says, “A promise is a promise,” and slams Chul-gon’s hand onto the desk, taking out a hatchet from his jacket. WTF. Who carries a hatchet around?
He looks like he’s pretty determined to take that finger, and I’ll admit it, I kind of want him to. I don’t want to see it happen, but you know, let’s just say I wouldn’t be sad about it. He raises the hatchet, then slams it down…
Per Tae-oh’s request, Maria arrives at his apartment, where he has scattered a bottle of pills on the table. He sounds lethargic and sad, but Maria checks his healthy vitals and clues into the ploy. Telling him that he can talk to her without these false displays, she cautions him not to use these excuses in the future.
Then Tae-oh blurts, “Gap-dong,” which makes her freeze. Sounding dejected, Tae-oh explains how a detective considered him a potential copycat suspect, and even though he had an alibi and no evidence against him, he felt the weight of people’s judging stares.
She says that he’s not the only one who feels this way, and says that even now a detective is also under suspicion for the crime. With false concern, Tae-oh wonders how that cop is holding up. He also notices the whistle around Maria’s neck with interest.
In an ambulance, medics treat the huge gash in Chul-gon’s index finger. Holy shit he actually did it. It isn’t severed from his hand, but that hatchet did land. This puts Mu-yeom behind bars again, and a flashback answers some of our questions:
Back in the interrogation, post-chair-beating, Chul-gon tells Mu-yeom to go ahead and cut his finger off. If he really is trying to catch Gap-dong by being Gap-dong, he’ll need to act the part of a psycho to gain entree into the prison psychiatric facility.
So it was actually Chul-gon who pushed for this plan, saying that Mu-yeom won’t get anywhere by staying here and working the case. Mu-yeom is understandably suspicious and asks for the motivation. Chul-gon says that he’ll have to enact one more bout of insanity in service of their goal, because he only just discovered that the DNA evidence he’d put his faith in doesn’t exist.
From the hospital, Chul-gon puts in a call to his daughter Seon-joo, who seems to be an invalid of some sort. He speaks to her gently and warmly, but Seon-joo listens with a vacant expression, not saying a word. Then his voice gets serious as he warns her that she mustn’t marry a detective like him—because detectives sometimes place criminal-chasing above their families.
One month later, Mu-yeom is admitted to the psychiatric facility. His reputation precedes him, as the other inmates recognize him as the Gap-dong Cop who cut off his boss’s finger. Dim-witted Poopy wonders why it’s so hard finding the criminal, since surely it can’t be that hard to track down someone with a name as unusual as Gap Dong-yi. Heh. Either he’s really dumb, or he’s doing a good job acting like it.
Mu-yeom shoots a grin at the lookyloos, and they shrink back in fear. Our mysterious Gentleman Choi, on the other hand, watches with amusement.
At a popular hiking location, a red high heel sits neglected on a bench. A hiker prods it, and out falls a cell phone. He picks it up and sees the wallpaper photograph—the victim, tied up, dead.
Police officers are dispatched to comb the mountainside. The body is found covered in shrubbery, and it’s quickly apparent that this is Victim 3 in the copycat case. Chul-gon notes one discrepancy, however: Gap-dong left behind his DNA at the first crime scene, in the form of both semen and shit. Why would a copycat have left that out? Also, why would he have held on to the phone and shoe for a month, then dropped it off for discovery now?
Section Chief Cha speculates that keeping the third murder a secret would have ruined the experience of a fourth murder. Chul-gon finds the timing too much of a coincidence with Mu-yeom’s imprisonment; he suspects that the criminal waited purposely for this moment.
Then, the forensic specialist discovers DNA evidence on the body after all: strands of hair.
Profiler Han chats with the district attorney about the case, and the latter asks whether a fourth copycatting is likely. Profiler Han answers that sadly, he believes so. Just then his wife enters the office, and she fidgets nervously when the district attorney mentions that she looks familiar. I’m guessing she’s not comfortable discussing her daughter’s case, but they gloss over the moment with a joke.
In the psych hospital, Mu-yeom approaches Gentleman Choi and comments on his resemblance to Gap-dong’s police sketch. For the first time that we’ve seen him, Gentleman Choi looks annoyed and put out, rather than smug—I’m taking that as a good sign, since Mu-yeom makes him wary.
Mu-yeom goes in for a session with Dr. Maria, and he doesn’t hide that he’s here on ulterior motives, saying that they both know Gap-dong is amongst the patient population. She sighs that there was one person she had suspected, but he turned out not to be the guy. Hm, did Tae-oh convince her already?
She tenses when Mu-yeom says that he knows her secret about why she’s looking for Gap-dong—did he make the link to her victim status? But she relaxes when he guesses that she took it upon herself to outdo Profiler Han. He offers to make a bet with her as to who will recognize Gap-dong first, with a game of Truth as the spoils.
Just then, an officer interrupts with an urgent order to let Mu-yeom out, because Murder No. 3 has just been discovered.
Mu-yeom receives a visit from our industrious prosecutor, who apologizes for the injustice done to him. He presents him with release paperwork to sign, but Mu-yeom makes an unexpected request: Can his release be delayed a few days? The prosecutor is taken aback, but not stupid: He asks, “Do you believe Gap-dong is here?”
The cops are in good spirits over the hair discovery, since this greatly narrows down their search prospects. But the celebration is premature, as the results show that they all came from hair salon clients.
I guess the upright prosecutor wouldn’t agree to keep Mu-yeom unfairly imprisoned, because he is released from the facility after all. Chul-gon is there at the entrance waiting for him, and it’s rather remarkable how much of a change their dynamic has undergone. They’re not friendly, certainly, but the hostility is completely gone. Mu-yeom even looks at Chul-gon’s finger in concern, though Chul-gon waves that aside. There are more important matters to discuss, such as the need to identify the Gap-dong inside the prison asap, and to figure out what kind of communication he’s making with the Gap-dong outside of it.
To answer that question, we see Tae-oh waiting nearby a pay phone, which starts to ring. He picks up, and is greeted with a familiar whistling tune. And wouldn’t you know, we cut to the prison line for the phone, and it’s not Gentleman Choi.
The figure at the prison phone is too blurry to identify, but he chuckles as Tae-oh says, “This time I’m going to get Crazy Monk.” The bait? “Maria Whistle.”
At the same time, Maria finds a note tucked into her papers, and her face whitens as she reads it: “Hide yourself well, Oh Maria!”
At the temple, Ji-wool pleads with the monk to do something about Mu-yeom, who has shut himself up in his room without a word. She balks to hear that he might become a monk (“He’s no longer a cop, he has to feed himself somehow”) and protests, “But I can feed and support him!” She’s adorable.
Turns out that Mu-yeom is poring over Gap-dong files in his shed-office. With the copycat pattern established, it’s more important than ever to act before another victim is taken. And then, he freezes to see a clue in the old photos: a whistle, found at the crime scene.
Mu-yeom heads over to Maria’s trailer straightaway, only to find it dark. He supposes she might be asleep already but sends a text and waits outside. She’s actually out at the moment, not seeing right away that somebody’s following her. When she does clue into the presence, she starts walking faster and fumbles for her whistle.
Mu-yeom decides that Maria must be sleeping and heads to leave, just as he hears a whistle off in the distance. Maria is walking quicker and quicker now, and when her follower steps forward into her path, she panics. Screwing her eyes shut and blowing on the whistle, she swings her handbag around wildly, while Tae-oh just stares at her impassively.
Then he adopts his meek persona and calls out, “Doctor!” A second later, Mu-yeom jumps in and sends him sprawling with a fist to the face. He looks mighty proud of himself for the rescue, but Tae-oh gasps, “What did I do wrong?” And now Maria recognizes him, her fear turning to confusion.
Mu-yeom starts to explain his presence, but Tae-oh is quicker (and smoother), saying that he was just worried because she didn’t respond to his message. Asked about his own arrival, Mu-yeom fishes for a second before saying that he’s here to take issue with Maria’s psych evaluation. Clearly he’s not in his right mind and he’s just one evaluation away from being sent back to the psych ward. Do you love Tae-oh’s eye-rolly expression here?
Now that Maria’s safe, Mu-yeom excuses himself, cringing at his (perceived) misreading of the situation. Maria thanks Tae-oh for his concern, then holds him back to tend to his bleeding lip. He looks pleased to have her still conned by his nice-guy facade.
Mu-yeom calls his partner to request that he look into Tae-oh, but when he hears that Hyung-nyun already checked him out and saw that he had an alibi, he accepts that. He figures he’s just being overly suspicious… but at the last second he thinks to ask who provided that alibi. The answer fills him with dread: Maria.
He thinks back to Chul-gon’s words that the criminal knows him well enough to know how he’ll react to things. In other words, someone close enough to manipulate his targets. He rushes back to Maria’s trailer, arriving to see her tending to Tae-oh’s cut, and thinks to himself, “You rat… so you were the Gap-dong on the outside?”
Thank goodness for this break in the case (even though I wonder where you go from here, now that our hero is on to our villain). I still wish that the show was taking a more mysterious approach to the criminals’ perspective since it’s felt rather anti-climactic to show us the evil plan before it’s even enacted or discovered, and therefore there’s no sense of ticking clock or mystery. But at least with the revelation of the two Gap-dongs working together, the case skews a little—it’s no longer a simple killer-and-copycat case, but an active conspiracy, which at least adds some nuance to the thing. And I’d much rather watch that than the Continuing Tales of an Incompetent Police Force.
I found Chul-gon absolutely insufferable and rage-inducing this episode, and now that I see that they’re bringing him around, I can see that they pushed him to extremes on purpose to make this turnaround more satisfying. I… kind of think they miscalculated because there are lines that, once crossed, can’t be uncrossed—but fine, I get what they were doing and in any case I’m just glad that it’s no longer the case that he’s a bigoted lunatic cop out to abuse our hero. The show can’t make me forget every bit of pigheaded injustice he’s carried out thus far so I’m not gonna buy any sort of redemption arc, but I much prefer this new dynamic, with the two men as grudging allies.
So yes, I still hate Chul-gon, but I think we’ve turned a corner. Thank goodness, because there was only so much further downward he could spiral. I feel like his turnaround was conceptually reasonable but flawed in actuality (as in, the way he realizes he was wrong is so simplistic as to be absurd), but let’s just move forward with it, shall we?
I enjoyed the development of sending Mu-yeom into the prison to suss out Gap-dong for himself, so I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to explore that scenario for more than one scene. I mean, if he was going to go in, why not use that for some narratively rich moments?
I’m not sure how I feel about where we’re going with Gentleman Choi, who has been given too many creepy close-ups to escape suspicion, even if he isn’t the Gap-dong on the phone. On one hand, yes, it would be an easy way to lead us astray with a red herring, but on the other hand, if it turns out he was introduced, made to look uber-suspicious, and then turns out to be nobody, that’s not satisfying either. I wonder at the concept of multiple Gap-dongs, actually, which would be much more interesting to me than one original one and a copycat, or even two partner Gap-dongs. If we’re going to introduce the idea of two, why not go whole hog and really blow this thing wide open and make it a whole society of Gap-dongs? And perhaps the hospital is a player in all this, if you want to find a way to tie ’em all together.
I know it’s ironic to clamor for more serial killers when I was complaining about too many in God’s Gift, but you know, maybe there’s just a sweet spot for adequate numbers of serial killers for narrative satisfaction. In fiction, I mean! I’m sure we can all agree that zero serial killers is best for nonfictional purposes.
- Gap-dong: Episode 4
- 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