Bad Detective: Episodes 1-2
With an absolutely gruesome, brutal premiere, Bad Detective (also known as Less than Evil) delivers on its promise of a vicious psychological thriller featuring a slightly unhinged detective who is willing to break the rules to take down the vile criminals who seem impossible to catch by normal means. And when the criminal in question is the one whose evasion of police several years ago sent our titular detective spiraling out of control, you can be sure there’s no line our detective isn’t willing to cross this time.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
In the summer of 2005, a young high school girl with broken fingernails calls emergency services to report that she knows where a missing student is. Later that day, police arrive nearby to scour the area for the missing girl.
Among the policemen combing through the fields is WOO TAE-SEOK (Shin Ha-kyun), who diligently searches his assigned area. But as he searches, an uneasy feeling creeps up on him, and he stares at a nearby house listening intently to indistinguishable sounds coming from the location.
But just as he’s about to head over to investigate, the missing girl’s body is found in the field, and the commotion jars him back to his senses. Tae-seok heads over to find the girl was stabbed multiple times in a brutal killing, and the investigators conclude the motive was purely enjoyment for the killer.
Later that night, the girl who phoned the police returns to the scene, and Tae-seok confronts her. The girl bolts upon seeing him, and Tae-seok chases her through the forest, eventually cornering her on top of a cliff overlooking a lake.
Tae-seok tries to calm the girl down, but eventually decides to lunge at her to try to grab her. Panicked, the girl tumbles off the cliff and plunges into the water below. When she doesn’t resurface, Tae-seok has no choice but to dive in after her.
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I rescued a keychain
In the present, Tae-seok, now a grizzled veteran detective, argues with his partner over what method to use to capture their new suspect, with Tae-seok wanting to bend the rules to catch him more effectively.
Tae-seok wins the argument, and the pair break in to the suspect’s home. Tae-seok drags the suspect to a railing several stories up and dangles the man over the edge, while several onlookers watch the scene in shock, as Tae-seok orders the man to confess or be dropped to his death.
The man agrees to confess, and Tae-seok and his partner soon arrive at an abandoned factory where Tae-seok finds a young girl whom the suspect had kidnapped. Tae-seok brings the girl to her crying parents, who gratefully thank Tae-seok for saving their daughter.
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Stick to protocol or rescue an abused kid?
Public response to Tae-seok’s tactics is less positive though, especially since the suspect is likely to be released thanks to the forced confession. Tae-seok’s former partner from 2005 scolds him for his move, and warns that the higher-ups will plant a spy near him to watch his every move going forward.
Tae-seok heads home to his messy, empty apartment to drink his sorrows away. As he drinks, his wife, Kim Hae-joon, enters and presents divorce papers to Tae-seok.
He tells his wife he can change, but she rebuts that he won’t take a day off for personal matters when a kid gets abducted, and she lives constantly worried that something will happen to him at work.
She tells him to quit his job if he wants to get back together, but Tae-seok just yells that he’ll never divorce her and tears up the documents.
The next morning, Tae-seok storms into the Prosecutor’s Office and demands to know why they won’t arrest the suspect he apprehended. He pushes his way into the office of the prosecutor in charge of the case, but freezes when he recognizes the man’s face.
The prosecutor is JANG HYUNG-MIN (Kim Gun-woo), but Tae-seok knows him by another name, Jang Seon-ho, a suspect in the murder of the high-school girl in 2005. The girl who jumped off the cliff named Seon-ho as the killer back then, but she was afraid of being killed by him as well.
Now, the former suspect is a prosecutor, and he chides Tae-seok for giving the criminal an out by coercing a confession out of him. But Tae-seok threatens that he never lets a criminal out of his sight, his words clearly directed at the prosecutor.
Tae-seok interrogates the captured criminal, and invents an additional charge against the man for murder. He pulls out the suspect’s hair and says he’ll plant it at the scene of the (nonexistent) murder, giving the man a choice between going to prison for abduction, or for murder instead.
Meanwhile, the higher-ups debate what to do about Tae-seok, with his old partner mustering the defense, while head detective CHEON CHOON-MAN (Park Ho-san) argues that he should be fired.
Just then, an aide rushes in and turns on the TV, where the criminal is holding a press conference to recant the allegations against Tae-seok, while also fully confessing to the abduction.
Afterward, a female reporter, EUN SUN-JAE (Lee Seol) corners Tae-seok in another room, and appears to know exactly how he managed to get the criminal to confess. Tae-seok just brushes her off, but does seem somewhat rattled by how much she knows.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Jang visits a woman at her home and claims to be there to give news pertaining to her husband. Inside, he pulls a knife on the woman and threatens to kill her baby if she doesn’t leave with him.
At the police station, a rookie cop CHAE DONG-YOON (Baro) introduces himself to Tae-seok, and announces that he’s been assigned to work under the detective. Tae-seok immediately recalls the warning about the higher-ups planting a spy, suspecting the new recruit.
As they’re meeting the rookie, a man runs into the station holding his baby. It’s the husband of the woman Prosecutor Jang just abducted, pleading for help finding his wife.
At the scene, Tae-seok spots a mirror in the stairwell, and finds a toy gun in the sight-line of the mirror, realizing that someone else may have seen the abduction.
He takes the gun outside and starts playing with the toy, which causes a young boy to come out of his house and explain that the gun is his. Tae-seok finds out that the boy was in fact a witness to the abduction.
The boy’s mother comes out and tells the officers to leave, afraid of what the abductor could do to her son if he found out the boy witnessed the abduction.
But as she’s talking to the cops, Prosecutor Jang pulls up to the scene, and the boy instantly points him out as the abductor, and Tae-seok rushes in front of the boy to ensure Prosecutor Jang doesn’t see his accuser.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Tae-seok and Dong-yoon follow Prosecutor Jang to a harbor-side town, and Tae-seok continues pursuit through the alleys of the town, but eventually loses him. Instead, he gets Prosecutor Jang’s address from another officer and heads off in search of it.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Jang collects his still-alive victim out of the freezer of what can only be described as a torture chamber.
Tae-seok sneaks into Prosecutor Jang’s house and searches inside, noting all sorts of creepy images and anatomical diagrams within.
Prosecutor Jang, at the same time, shackles his victim to a table and begins gruesomely pulling her teeth out, laughing maniacally and getting sexual gratification from the act.
Tae-seok, in the house, spots a familiar cliff, and recalls pulling the high-school girl from the water that night in 2005. Tae-seok finds the murder weapon in the girl’s possession, but she cries that she was merely a witness.
When Tae-seok senses that the girl knows the identity of the killer, he promises to keep her safe from retaliation, and she recalls specifically seeing the now-Prosecutor Jang killing her friend.
In the present, Tae-seok’s team find 6 other cases potentially linked to Prosecutor Jang since that time. Further, all of the bodies were discovered near water, and Tae-seok realizes that Prosecutor Jang must be using a boat to transport them.
Tae-seok stops Dong-yoon from alerting the coast guard to their suspicions so as to not tip off Prosecutor Jang. He refuses to let the team get a statement from the young boy and put him in danger, and instead tells the team to secretly find the boat.
Back in his torture room, Prosecutor Jang puts the woman back in the freezer and starts cleaning up all traces of his brutal torture.
Tae-seok, meanwhile, tracks down Reporter Eun, and asks who she used to hack into the police headquarters so that he can use the hacker to track down the boat.
He and Dong-yoon head to the hacker, Ban Ji-deuk’s office and they enlist his help to find the boat. It doesn’t take long to narrow the list down, and in no time they discover the only boat which could possibly be Prosecutor Jang’s.
In the morning, Tae-seok and Dong-hoon arrive shortly after Prosecutor Jang leaves, and they quickly find the correct boat. They break open the locked freezer, but the victim is already frozen to death inside.
Once again, Tae-seok stops Dong-hoon from alerting authorities, knowing there’s not enough evidence to link Prosecutor Jang to the scene. Instead, he cryptically asserts that they’ll need to find another way.
Later that day, Tae-seok suits up in a full-on disguise to hide his identity, and walks up to an unwitting Prosecutor Jang, swiftly punching him right in the face. He uses a rubber glove to collect blood from Prosecutor Jang’s mouth, and heads off without a word as Dong-hoon watches discretely nearby.
At the station, Prosecutor Jang files a complaint against Tae-seok, and as he leaves, he overhears Dong-hoon say that Tae-seok plans to plant the blood at the crime scene to implicate Prosecutor Jang.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what Tae-seok is currently doing, rubbing the blood on the underside of the torture table and calling forensics to the scene immediately.
But Prosecutor Jang rushes to the scene himself and easily finds the blood. He hastily starts wiping the blood off again, but Tae-seok is one step ahead, and wanders into the room with his phone pointed right at Prosecutor Jang, recording him destroying the evidence.
Tae-seok reveals that he told Dong-hoon to leak the plan to Prosecutor Jang, and he fell right into their trap. Tae-seok asks if Prosecutor Jang also killed the witness in 2005 who, despite Tae-seok’s promise, disappeared at the same time her mother was found murdered.
Prosecutor Jang taunts that detectives should speak with evidence, and he makes a break for it. Tae-seok follows him into a factory, and eventually corners him at the top.
Realizing he’s trapped, Prosecutor Jang grabs a pipe and starts wildly swinging at Tae-seok. After a particularly wild swing he tumbles over the edge and dangles precariously holding on by his fingertips.
Tae-seok takes the opportunity to interrogate Prosecutor Jang, but he still denies killing the witness back then. Tae-seok doesn’t believe him, so he squeezes his foot down on the prosecutor’s fingers trying to get his confession.
Prosecutor Jang realizes that Tae-seok intends to let him die, and the detective affirms, “I should have killed you 13 years ago.” He keeps pressing on the prosecutor’s fingers until he can’t hold on any longer, and he tumbles to the ground far below.
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Step one: kill the problem
Boy this turned out to be a lot darker than I was expecting. It’s hard to find a show that can make your skin crawl, especially on network TV, but pulling out someone’s teeth on-screen is an effective way to do just that. I’m not exactly familiar with BBC’s Luther, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect going in. Suffice to say, I’m intrigued, but I’m also a little cautious coming out of this premiere.
The main thing I take issue with is some questionable camerawork, particularly in the chase scenes. I’m not sure how closely they’re mirroring the source material there, but I found the camerawork so disorienting that those scenes were essentially unwatchable. It’s not necessarily the quick-cutting nature of the camerawork that I take exception with either, as I think it’s more the straight-on angles that make it so jarring to watch and make the movements look unnatural. I was getting legitimately ill watching it.
But there’s still a fair amount to like here, Shin Ha-kyun makes for an excellent gruff, beleaguered detective, and his relationship with Reporter Eun is definitely one I look forward to watching going forward. I’m not quite sure what to make of her, but based on what little we’ve seen, she seems just as willing to break rules to get things done as our titular detective, so they’re practically a match made in heaven.
I am slightly confused with the way they’ve set up the villain, as Prosecutor Jang certainly seemed like he was being set up to be the monstrous super-villain of the series, but that was before he fell into a crumpled ball of blood and bones. Did he survive that? I don’t know why we spent so much time on his back story if they were just going to kill him in the first episode, so my guess is he somehow survives, but isn’t he also pretty easy to convict for the murder of the mom at this point? At the very least Tae-seok has an evidence tampering case locked down with that video. I’m just curious what direction they’re going to take the story, because as of this moment, I don’t see a clear path forward.