Bad Guys: Episode 7
Wow, just wow. What a jam-packed episode of suspenseful action, heart-wrenching emotional beats, and most importantly—answers. We don’t get all of them in this hour, but each of the ones we do get carry its own punch. As Team Crazy Dogs take on their next target head-on, they must also protect those lives they cannot afford to lose, including their own.
Dealing with the past is never an easy matter, but it’s remarkable what confronting those issues can do for any kind of relationship. It seems that airing out dirty laundry can be the best way for our crime-fighting crew to resolve their misunderstandings—not only with each other but with others as well, even if some resolutions come one step too late.
SONG OF THE DAY
Roo – “Reason” for the OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 7: “In the Line of Fire”
Back in the van, Goo-tak assures Tae-soo that they’ll find the guy that killed the pawnshop owner since they’ve found the weapon. But Tae-soo recognizes a fellow assassin’s work when he sees one—an expertly-placed stab wound caused Pawnbroker Im to die from massive blood loss within seconds.
The professional they’re dealing with is among the best of the best: a completely emotionless assassin, whose work leaves no trace of evidence, no unnecessary wounds, and lastly, no sense of guilt.
Team Crazy Dogs heads back to HQ where Prosecutor Oh is already waiting for them. He’s delighted to meet everyone in person—Jung-moon in particular, to whom he says it’s been three years since they’ve last seen one another. A quick flashback reveals that Prosecutor Oh had chuckled at Jung-moon’s high psychopathy score in the interrogation room years ago.
Prosecutor Oh is all, So how’ve you been? and cheerily brings up the Hwayeondong murders (the ones Jung-moon was prosecuted for), semi-apologetic about the consequences of that case. His mention that everything that happened is in the past now elicits a reaction out of Goo-tak, so Prosecutor Oh drops the subject… for now, anyway.
He changes the topic to relay that forensics called while the crew was away: fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, presumably the murderer’s.
Those prints belong to Hyun-woo, but Tae-soo and the crew arrive at Hyun-woo’s place to find his body being hauled away in a body bag. Aw man, I’d hoped he’d stay around for longer. It was nice knowin’ ya, kid.
Something about how Hyun-woo could have killed Pawnbroker Im, and then hung himself out of guilt sounds too convenient to Goo-tak’s ears. Hyun-woo’s fiancee doesn’t believe that story either, insisting to Tae-soo that Hyun-woo was looking forward to their upcoming marriage.
It was Hyun-woo who wanted to build a happy life together, yet felt sorry to her about the possible shame of marrying a man with a limp. Tae-soo is careful with his words, but he tells her that if there’s a chance that someone murdered Hyun-woo, then he’ll do anything in his power to hunt down the culprit.
In regards to Hyun-woo’s leg brace, she’d been told that there was a firearm accident at the shooting range not too long ago, but Hyun-woo wouldn’t disclose any further details. We know that Hyun-woo had warned Tae-soo about the mysterious “Jong-seok” before, which presumably must be the man in the pin-striped suit and goatee in the next flashback.
Good god—Jong-seok had stuck a target onto Hyun-woo’s leg with a knife, then admonished him for leaving the assassin biz in such an dishonorable manner. Hyun-woo’s one good leg will always remind him of that decision, Jong-seok had told him, before firing the gun at his target.
Tae-soo is certain that Hyun-woo is innocent—Hyun-woo’s weapon of choice was a firearm, since he was too clumsy with a knife. I always appreciate that Goo-tak always hears his crew members out, and repeats Tae-soo’s theory that someone else murdered Pawnbroker Im, framed Hyun-woo, and made his death look like a suicide.
In that case, Tae-soo must have some idea of who’s behind it all, and Tae-soo admits that he’s familiar with the flawless killing method because he used to kill in the same manner. He warns Goo-tak against getting involved in this case, because Goo-tak will be in way over his head when it comes to this brand of killers.
Tae-soo seeks out an elderly baduk player to ask about Jong-seok’s whereabouts. He’s told that it’s been some time since Jong-seok started working for another courier: Kim Do-shik.
Meanwhile, Goo-tak and Mi-young scour Hyun-woo’s apartment for any possible evidence left behind. Unfortunately for them, Hyun-woo had already taken it upon himself remove any trace of him living here, which leads Goo-tak to the conclusion that Hyun-woo knew that someone was coming for him.
Goo-tak decides to perform a more thorough search via UV light, and from there the scene intercuts between the present (Goo-tak) and the recent past (Hyun-woo) in the apartment. Hyun-woo hadn’t caught onto the sneak attack from behind until it was too late; the tie around his neck, Hyun-woo head-butted his attacker and drops of blood fell to the floor.
These are the same drops Goo-tak sees in the present, while in the recent-past, Hyun-woo struggles against the ever-tightening hold on his neck. Hyun-woo desperately tries to reach for a photo that’s fallen under a stand, and Goo-tak follows the bloodied trail until his eyes fall upon the photo.
It’s unclear from whose pocket the photo fell out of, but the subject is all too familiar: Jung-moon. Er, does everyone have a copy of Jung-moon’s picture ’round these parts? Despite his initial shock, Goo-tak stuffs the photo into his jacket before Mi-young sees, and confirms that Tae-soo’s theory was true.
An unidentifiable car was caught on video leaving the apartment complex around the time of Hyun-woo’s death, but the faces of the three people in the car couldn’t be made out. So there’s a possibility that two different people could have killed Pawnbroker Im and Hyun-woo, Goo-tak guesses.
Elsewhere, Woong-chul wonders why they’re going through all this trouble just to prove Tae-soo’s theory when the story of Pawnbroker Im’s murder and Hyun-woo’s suicide could be true. Jung-moon agrees, though he notably adds, “because a knife always stabs from behind.”
Those are the same words Boss Lee spoke to Woong-chul, who asks Jung-moon what the hell he means by mentioning that. “That somebody could be killed by someone they trust,” Jung-moon answers, then tells Woong-chul to go ask Boss Lee who wants him dead.
Woong-chul murmurs in frustration as he steps out, and Jung-moon turns back to the CCTV recordings he’d been poring over. His ears pick up on a presence outside and several gangsters wielding pipes let themselves inside. “Did [Boss Lee] send you?”
Just then, Woong-chul sees the men standing outside and knocks out each and every one of them. That show of loyalty isn’t enough to convince Jung-moon, who decides that he’ll go ask Boss Lee himself. Woong-chul places a hand on his shoulder to stop him with the request to let him take care of it.
Tae-soo tracks down Kim Do-shik at a nightclub and shows up at his hotel room later. It turns out that Do-shik is none other than the gangster who approached Tae-soo about killing Jung-moon, and tying him up in the bathtub is an easy peasy job for Tae-soo.
Spraying Do-shik with scalding hot water, Tae-soo says that’s a sneak preview if he doesn’t answer truthfully. A mysterious man—the same one who spoke with Boss Lee—had approached him a few days ago about offing Jung-moon’s head, Do-shik says, coughing.
The hitman that man had recommended was none other than Tae-soo, but since he had refused, Do-shik was put in contact with another skilled assassin: Park Jong-seok.
Do-shik is sure that Jong-seok is behind the recent deaths—moreover, he also received an angry call from Pawnbroker Im on the night of his death. There’s no need for any other people to die apart from Jung-moon, so they may as well wait until Jong-seok finishes the job.
Tae-soo finds the idea utterly ridiculous, but Do-shik believes Jung-moon will eventually end up dead anyway. But if Tae-soo insists on saving his life, then “don’t ever leave Jung-moon by himself.”
Little does Tae-soo know then that Jung-moon has been left outside while Woong-chul speaks with Boss Lee in person. He asks how Boss Lee could try and kill the man who saved his life, demanding to know who gave the order. But Boss Lee says he never sent his men tonight because he’s walked away from the job.
That means that Jong-seok sent those pipe-wielding thugs to Jung-moon tonight, as Do-shik whispers that Jong-seok will do anything to create an opportune moment to attack Jung-moon alone, and then kill him without a trace.
And just outside the entrance, a man stabs Jung-moon from behind while bumping shoulders with him. Jung-moon staggers.
Thank goodness this stab wound is treated promptly, as Jung-moon is wheeled into the ER and is prepped for emergency treatment. Goo-tak is already at the hospital when Tae-soo arrives, explaining that the stab wound was three inches from Jung-moon’s lung.
Goo-tak has heard the whole story from Woong-chul already, and recognizes that this was a master hitman at work. However, the perpetrator dropped the knife that had Woong-chul’s fingerprints on them, which means that Woong-chul could have faced murder charges if Jung-moon had died.
Goo-tak can’t dismiss the similarities in these attacks, and he confronts Tae-soo about who’s responsible for the attacks on Jung-moon’s life. Tae-soo admits that he also received a request to take out Jung-moon, but he doesn’t know who was behind it yet. He might know someone who does, though.
Too bad Do-shik is dead by the time Goo-tak and Tae-soo head back to the hotel room. It appears Do-shik overdosed on sleeping pills (though he was handcuffed in the bathroom when Tae-soo saw him last) and his phone holds one outgoing call. Hmm.
Tae-soo repeats what Goo-tak said earlier: that if Jung-moon had died, Woong-chul would have been blamed for his murder, and those who valued Jung-moon would have resented the wrong person for the rest of their lives. It’s time for Tae-soo to go and face Jong-seok (though he doesn’t say his name outright), and Tae-soo tells Goo-tak to take good care of Jung-moon.
And now it’s time for us to get a look at Jong-seok himself, as he carefully wraps a tie around a lackey’s neck to show him the proper method of strangling someone to death. Doing it incorrectly leads to a struggle, Jong-seok says patiently, tightening the grip until the lackey falls.
Tae-soo buys a lottery ticket using the string of numbers left on Do-shik’s phone, and a few quick calculations leads him to the dock, where he meets Jong-seok himself. Tae-soo wastes no time to ask who called the hit on Jung-moon’s head, but Jong-seok says he doesn’t know either—he only received the order from Do-shik.
Jong-seok supposes that he won’t be able to carry out the hit with Tae-soo hanging around, but then chuckles that Tae-soo’s with him right now. So Jung-moon’s going to die soon—no, he’s probably dead by now. Oh crap, you called Tae-soo out here on purpose.
And sure enough, we see someone enter Jung-moon’s hospital room and take out a syringe. Back at the docks, Jong-seok can barely bring himself to laugh at the detectives Tae-soo’s working with: an aging cop and a female inspector.
But there’s something Jong-seok doesn’t know, Tae-soo says: how strong Woong-chul’s fist is. We see Woong-chul stop Jong-seok’s lackey from inserting the syringe, and the two go fist-for-fist until our strong man finally takes him down.
At the question of why Pawnbroker Im and Hyun-woo had to die, Jong-seok discloses that there was an added condition to the order in the event that Tae-soo refused: that Tae-soo also be eliminated. And now that job is up to him, Jong-seok finishes.
Aha, so it turns out that I’d been wrong about the subject of Pawnbroker Im’s conversation with Hyun-woo that they need to strike “him” before “he” does (curse you, mysterious pronouns!). They’d been talking about attacking Jong-seok, and were unable to get ahold of Tae-soo. Were you trying to warn him?
So when Jong-seok had stabbed Pawnbroker Im, he warned Hyun-woo against attacking him out of retaliation, because really, who’s the faster hitman between them? Hyun-woo had no choice but to run out of fear, but we know what happened to him next.
Jong-seok is sort-of-but-not-really sorry to Hyun-woo’s fiancee, but killing is a part of his work. Tae-soo points out that they all worked together once—him, Jong-seok, Hyun-woo, and Pawnbroker Im, but that hardly fazes Jong-seok, who remembers what Pawnbroker Im always told them: “Although committing murder might be easy, it’s the sense of guilt that’s difficult.”
Jong-seok would rather like this job (read: Tae-soo’s death) be an easy one, but Tae-soo reminds him of the last promise they made together: that one of them would die the next time they meet. And that promise is going to be fulfilled today.
Putting on his gloves, Tae-soo comes at him and Jong-seok blocks the incoming punches and kicks, then gets in a few kicks himself. After tumbling to the ground, Jong-seok unsheathes a curved knife to use against Tae-soo, who blocks it.
Jong-seok then draws first blood after pinning Tae-soo to the wall, slicing him across the arm. Tae-soo uses a box as defense, then uses a shard as his own weapon to slice Jong-seok’s leg. Using the momentum, Tae-soo whips Jong-seok and his knife around so that the knife stabs Jong-seok instead. THAT was a freakin’ awesome fight scene.
They stand there like that for a few moments until Jong-seok finally says in a strained voice: “Turn the knife. Kill me already!” But Tae-soo softly shakes his head: “I don’t kill people anymore. No, I can’t.”
“The sadness of taking someone precious away from them, the agony… the sense of guilt of taking a life of someone dear to them. I… I found out what those emotions felt like, so I just can’t kill anymore.”
As he speaks those words, we see Tae-soo and the others relish in happier times by the very same docks, even taking a family portrait together. “If those who remember me all depart [from this world] and die… and if I have to send you away too, Jong-seok, then… I’m truly alone. Don’t leave me alone. I beg you.”
Jong-seok asks if Tae-soo’s prepared to be the first person on his hitlist if he doesn’t kill him now. He wonders how the rest of them could have changed so much, why they tried to leave this underground assassin network behind them.
Another flashback takes us back to the moments after Hyun-woo was shot in the leg. As Hyun-woo cries in agony, Jong-seok chuckles that Hyun-woo changed too much after meeting his soon-to-be-wife. “I… didn’t change because I met her, but I had the chance to meet her because I changed,” Hyun-woo had replied.
Hyun-woo had desperately asked Jong-seok to stop things here, and Pawnbroker Im had more words of advice for Jong-seok: “In life, you can wash off the blood on your hands, but you can’t wash off the blood on your mind—the guilt.”
And now Jong-seok tells Tae-soo to turn back and run (from this line of work), but it’s too late for him now. With that, we hear the knife penetrate deeper. Oh shoot—did Jong-seok do that?
Jong-seok collapses to the ground. Tae-soo lets out a cry of despair, then bends down over his fallen friend.
Saying that Tae-soo looks like hell afterwards is an understatement, as he heads towards Sun-jung’s place with their previous conversations echoing in his head. Sun-jung smiles to see him standing there, and is slightly alarmed by his bloodstained clothes and face.
But they carry on conversation, and Sun-jung brings up how he questioned why she wasn’t receiving any money every month. It happens that a social worker came by to inform her about a bank account with monthly deposits made for the past two years—the reason she never got it was because it was listed under her previous address.
Tae-soo is glad to hear that the money (and Pawnbroker Im) came through after all, and when he can’t bring himself to say what he’d like to say, he takes a different approach by admitting that he now knows what it feels like to lose someone precious and to be truly alone. “I’m so sorry,” he says sincerely.
Tae-soo turns to leave at that, but then slumps on the staircase and lets the tears finally consume him.
Meanwhile, Jung-moon finally comes to at the hospital and checks his voicemail. Remember when Jung-moon visited the errand center? They’ve found the Scarred Man Jung-moon’s been looking for.
Jung-moon immediately gets dressed and tracks down the address, which leads him to a shabby, darkened house. When the Scarred Man approaches from behind, asking if he’s a debt collector, Jung-moon slowly turns around, his hands raised. “You remember me, don’t you?”
The Scarred Man does, and says Jung-moon’s rather late—by two years, in fact. He’s probably the one person who knows the answer to Jung-moon’s murderous activities, probably better than Jung-moon himself.
He definitely recorded something, and gives Jung-moon the short answer: “You are a killer.” A quick flashback shows Jung-moon following a pair of girls, before we cut back to the present. “You killed them, and you’re the culprit behind the Hwayeondong murders.”
Now Jung-moon finally has his answer, but he isn’t the only one to hear it… because Goo-tak is standing just outside the door, having overheard the same words.
Be still, my beating heart—what a fantastic hour of television. I’d nearly forgotten about how Jung-moon had sought out services to find out whether he truly was a psychopathic serial killer or not, if he really is the person the world believes him to be or if there lies another truth. I, for one, am more inclined to see the photo and video evidence before any drawing any substantial conclusions, but I’d also say that fearful and shocked expression on the Scarred Man’s face to be telling that whatever he did see, it was pretty frightening.
So while knowing the validity of the Scarred Man’s answers to be true is important, the other issue is that Goo-tak has overheard this conversation, too—how will he react to this revelation? We know that the Hwayeondong murders is a sore spot for both Jung-moon and Goo-tak alike, so it’s safe to say that’s where their main beef with each other lies. Could Goo-tak’s daughter have been one of the victims? And if figuring that out wasn’t complicated enough, we now have Prosecutor Oh to deal with, because he knows of Goo-tak’s past and also encountered Jung-moon before. His smarmy behavior and words could easily be grating, but right now he holds a lot of answers in his hand, so his character tips towards intriguing.
I had no idea that the show would go this in-depth with Tae-soo’s character arc in this hour, but I’m so very glad that it did. For the past few episodes, we’d been set up to suspect and doubt a few characters in Tae-soo’s circle—Pawnbroker Im, in particular. Granted, he had a lot of evidence stacked up against him—the alleged attempts on Tae-soo’s life, the missing bank account, and what looked like preparations to off Tae-soo. I almost feel silly for falling for the untruths because of the show’s plot execution, but perhaps it’s also a testament to the show’s writing to interweave an individual character’s arc in the midst of a case of the week and build it up to a grand payoff. That isn’t to say that the writing has always been tight throughout the series, but I can’t help but be impressed by this turn of events.
At the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of Jong-seok, a name that could have easily been mentioned (and dropped) in passing. Keeping his face masked for half the episode had me wondering if he could have been our Big Bad who was too lazy to kill on his own. As it turns out, even he, as a skilled assassin, was too low-ranked on the evil-o-meter. Jong-seok wasn’t the first to go after Jung-moon’s head, nor will he be the last, I’m sure.
I’m of the belief that a good story should (and would) be able to introduce and inject enough life into its characters and establish their relationships with each other within minutes or an hour. And for what it’s worth Tae-soo and Jong-seok certainly falls into this category. We’d heard about Jong-seok either in passing or with sparse glimpses, but when you put Tae-soo and Jong-seok in the same scene, you could feel the acrimonious relationship burning within and between them. The fight scene at the docks spoke volumes about who they were and who they are now, and Tae-soo’s speech about why he can’t bring himself to kill anymore speaks to how he can wash off the blood from his hands, but not the blood that haunts him in his mind. Pair that with the brief glimpses into their past together, and the sorrow that Tae-soo feels is palpable and heart-wrenching. You never know how precious someone is to you until you lose him.