Bad Guys: Episode 9
Now that’s a look from a guy who’s not messing around. I didn’t think an episode that takes us through yet even more answers would be all that suspenseful, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about Bad Guys is that it can churn out 66 solid minutes of thrills and surprises. We flesh out Goo-tak’s tragic and painful past once and for all, which also explains how he knew of the up-and-coming mob boss, the hired assassin who turned himself in, and the psychopath who can’t remember gaps of crucial time.
One of the most important questions I have to ask myself when I watch this show is this: Is Bad Guys giving me actual answers to my questions or is it giving me the answers I wanted to hear?
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Ji-young – “돌아와 줘 (Come Back To Me)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9: “Tropical Night”
At the question whether he was the mastermind behind the assassination order on Jung-moon and well, everything, Goo-tak smiles wryly, “Yes, that’s right. I gave the order on it all. Is this the answer you wanted?”
He acknowledges that the events from two years ago is the reason why he sprung the three jailbirds out of prison. Mi-young’s response is mixed with both surprise and pity—what happened that drove Goo-tak to this point?
We have to rewind to two years ago to get that answer, back when Goo-tak had given an interview at the police station, chuckling over his “Crazy Dog” nickname. His demeanor was far more cheerful back then, happily telling the camera about the importance of being morally upright, especially since his salary comes out of hard-working taxpayer dollars.
Goo-tak and his partner Detective Park head out to check the latest victim of the Hwayeondong serial killings (the thirteenth victim if we’re counting) who was also found in her home. Like the others, the victim was stabbed once and the killer had presumably found pleasure in watching her die.
He had also trimmed the victim’s nails and wiped down the body to erase any trace of evidence. The disturbing nature of these murders leaves Goo-tak wondering whether it’s a corrupt, depraved society that makes people go mad or the other way around. Or that it drives him mad that the world is changing when he feels unchanged.
As the thorough detective he is, he orders his partner to look into exactly what the killer used to remove traces of his DNA.
Turning the clocks back also takes us to Woong-chul’s glory days as a gangster working for Boss Lee. Remember that embarrassing story he told about the disrespectful hoobae in Episode 6? That’s the story that plays out now, as the maknae gangster cowers in fear at the nightclub. Ha, I love how the show kept that side-story in.
In any case, Woong-chul must already be thinking of living an honest life, seeing as he doesn’t readily take Boss Lee up on his offer of what neighborhood he wants to run. Boss Lee also picks up his hesitation and grants him time to think, though he adds that Woong-chul better not be thinking of leaving the mafia underground behind.
At home, Ji-yeon’s piano teacher recommends that Ji-yeon study overseas to further develop her musical talent. Goo-tak knows that his daughter has overheard the conversation when she remains mostly silent at the dinner table, and when his attempts to gauge her interest on the topic are met with lukewarm answers, he asks why she doesn’t ever ask for allowance or to send her abroad unlike other girls her age.
After joking that he’s more ragged-looking one between them, Ji-yeon honestly answers that she doesn’t want to hurt her father. She knows how hard Dad works just to keep food on the table, and she doesn’t want to be one of those girls always whining to her parent for money. It’s a pragmatic yet heartbreaking answer for Goo-tak to hear, who looks at his sensible daughter with pride in his tear-filled eyes.
Goo-tak is called away to meet with Boss Lee just then, and he and Woong-chul briefly cross paths outside. Boss Lee freely shares with Goo-tak that he officially owns the Seoul mafia underground starting today (thanks to Woong-chul), and he’s heard that he needs to curry favor with Goo-tak himself if he wants to conduct business as usual.
Goo-tak laughs at that, knowing that this meeting is Boss Lee’s attempt to bribe Goo-tak into overlooking his shady business dealings. Goo-tak can’t help but gasp at the crisp bills Boss Lee presents to him, though his voice is filled with scorn at the kind of dirty tricks gangsters will pull to corrupt law enforcement.
He admits that he is strapped for cash these days, but then delivers his answer with a punch to the mob boss’s jaw. Hahahaha, oh that’s so satisfying
Boss Lee is well-aware that Goo-tak won’t be able to financially support Ji-yeon’s passion for music. And while Goo-tak admits yes, that’s true, he warns the mob boss against ever showing his face again, lest he chew the man out.
Unfortunately for Goo-tak, neither Commissioner Nam nor his friends are in a position to lend him the money he needs to send Ji-yeon overseas. Still, Goo-tak chuckles with pride about how wonderfully talented and filial his daughter is, and vows to Commissioner Nam that he’ll somehow scrounge up the money to fulfill his daughter’s dreams.
Commissioner Nam’s son, Detective Nam arrives to take a drunken Goo-tak home. When his father asks if he remembers their promise that he’d quit the police force once his father became the police commissioner, Detective Nam replies that he would… after his father becomes the national police chief.
A little while later, Goo-tak and his partner head out to see the medical examiner, who tells them that the culprit wiped the body down with white kerosene, which is fairly accessible. Usually reserved for heating units, Detective Park wonders if they have to hunt down every sale of white kerosene made at all the rest stations in order to find their culprit.
Investigating each sale will be arduous and cumbersome, even if the warm weather like now would mean there aren’t that many people buying it. Being thorough is all a part of their jobs, Goo-tak answers—if they check all the CCTV footage available to them, they’re bound to catch an image of their culprit.
Just then, Goo-tak receives a call informing him that Ji-yeon is currently hospitalized. Apparently, she’d responded to a sketchy ad about working part-time at a noraebang for some quick cash, only to belatedly realize that wasn’t the case, and then engaged in a fight with a customer.
Goo-tak braces himself for the worst, though seeing his precious daughter looking beaten and bruised in a hospital bed is almost too much for him to take. He still manages to maintain a calm, concerned voice when speaking with Ji-yeon.
Her father’s understanding tone only upsets Ji-yeon further, as she cuts him off and asks him why he isn’t angry with her. This is entirely her fault—why won’t he yell at her for being so naive? It takes all of Goo-tak’s willpower to say that he’s partially at fault because he knows why Ji-yeon would have tried to make some quick cash in secret.
Goo-tak promises her that he can get the money, but Ji-yeon puts her foot down and declares that she won’t go study abroad. She’s realized where she stands in this world, and holding onto her own lofty dreams only make her feel more pathetic, so she’s going to give it all up now. Oh, kid.
You can see how those words tear at Goo-tak’s insides, but he swallows back the tears and gather Ji-yeon into his arms and sobs in silence. Then he heads straight to the police station to beat the living crap out of the man who hit his daughter. The cops have to pull him off and Goo-tak screams at how the poor have to live such misery.
Next thing we know, Goo-tak meets with Boss Lee once more and agrees to overlook the laundry list of crimes on one condition: that his right-hand man Woong-chul be handed over to the police. Boss Lee isn’t keen on making a scapegoat out of his trusted man, but Goo-tak insists that he take the deal when it’s presented to him.
So while Woong-chul is arrested, Boss Lee hands over the money to Goo-tak, saying that this means they’re on the same side now. And you can see how much Goo-tak hates himself for having agreed to this before taking the briefcase without another word.
The next time Goo-tak is back on-camera, he tells the VJ that they’re on their way to hunt down a suspect for the Hwayeondong serial killers. He elaborates on how it took a month scouring through the list of those who bought white kerosene and the CCTVS of both the fourteen crime scenes and various rest stops to narrow it down to one man.
That’s how the police discover Jung-moon at home and take him in for questioning. Goo-tak reminds him that he’s been arrested without a warrant, so they’ve got 48 hours to find more substantial evidence. Or you know, he could make things easier with a confession. Pfft.
Goo-tak cuts right to the chase when Jung-moon remains silent, asking him why he killed all those people. Jung-moon doesn’t answer, but he finally does speak when he’s asked why he bought the kerosene then, replying that it was for his girlfriend.
His girlfriend Yoo-jin does oil paintings and uses white kerosene for maintaining her paintbrushes. He’s willing to prove it, but Goo-tak is more interested in why Jung-moon was found lingering outside the victims’ homes. Goo-tak encourages him to come out with it—that he went there to kill—-to which Jung-moon answers, “I… have no memory of it.”
Jung-moon doesn’t recall even going to the victims’ homes, an answer Goo-tak finds amusing and preposterous. It certainly sounds ridiculous, and Goo-tak silently turns off the camera. Oh crap, are you going to try and beat it out of him?
Slamming Jung-moon’s head against the desk, Goo-tak shows him the victims’ case files one by one. But Jung-moon insists that he doesn’t remember, which only enrages Goo-tak further and tells Jung-moon to look at the faces of those lives he took until he does remember. Jung-moon looks absolutely terrified.
With little evidence to go on, Goo-tak says they need a confession if they wish to prosecute Jung-moon. Commissioner Nam declares that this will be his last case in the field, which basically means he won’t be bothered with the grunt work. Goo-tak’s next course of action is running a lie detector test on Jung-moon.
After being told that Ji-yeon is leaving in a couple of days versus a few months, Goo-tak abruptly hangs up to speak with Yoo-jin. She confirms that she’s an art major and uses white kerosene Jung-moon buys for her to clean her brushes since the alternative is far more expensive.
Although initially perplexed by Goo-tak’s question of what Jung-moon is usually like, she insists that her boyfriend isn’t someone who’d go around murdering people.
As Jung-moon is tied up to the lie detector machine, Detective Park argues that the results won’t hold up in court. But Goo-tak is ultimately looking to get a confession out of their suspect, and so they begin.
When Jung-moon admits to have committed murder before, they present him with photos of the Hwayeondong victims, asking whether he killed each person or not. But Jung-moon says no to each one, and the machine registers his answers as truth.
At the very last photo, Jung-moon turns his head as if staring at Goo-tak through the one-sided mirror and answers, “No, I did not kill her.” Truth.
Frustrated, Goo-tak grabs the mic and demands to know who he killed then, to which Jung-moon tosses back, “What’s the answer you want to hear? ‘I killed all those people.’ Is that what you want to hear?”
Jung-moon concedes and states that he killed all those people and that he is the Hwayeondong serial killer, statements that register as lies. He’ll accept the consequences, words that only rile up Goo-tak to storm inside the interrogation room and grab a fistful of Jung-moon’s shirt.
There won’t be a need for them to cross paths again if Jung-moon is innocent, but if he’s guilty, Goo-tak assures him that he’ll kill him the next time they meet.
It isn’t long before Goo-tak digs up the case where Jung-moon killed the intruders that killed his parents, along with the psych evaluation labeling Jung-moon as a psychopath. Goo-tak plans on meeting with the prosecutor in charge of that case, not at all worried that their 48-hour window is up.
Ji-yeon pays a surprise visit to the station, excited about her upcoming trip. Seeing her happy makes Goo-tak happy, but then that joyous moment is cut short when Jung-moon chimes in with a smirk: “Your daughter’s quite pretty.” Man, we already know what happens, but who else is creeped out right now?
So then we skip to the night before Ji-yeon was scheduled to leave, when Goo-tak left a voicemail message for his daughter in order to meet with Prosecutor Oh. Ji-yeon had arrived home and just about to eat when a noise interrupted her.
She had gone to check and found the door unlocked, but in that next moment, someone had snuck up behind her and stabbed her. Which then brings us back to that tragic scene we’ve seen time and time again, where Goo-tak bends over his daughter’s lifeless body.
Unable to cope with Ji-yeon’s death, Goo-tak had turned to drowning his sorrows in soju. Commissioner Nam’s words to send Ji-yeon away already only tore at his heart, and Goo-tak had sobbed he can’t bury his daughter in his heart because she died so unfairly. Only after he finds the bastard that killed her and rip him in shreds will he bury his daughter.
His grief and pain is palpable and heart-wrenching, and Goo-tak chugs more liquor, unable to hear another empty word of sympathy.
Oh man, I don’t know how Goo-tak can endure it, but he actually stands next to Ji-yeon’s body during her autopsy, though he takes hold of the medical examiner’s hand for an excruciating minute before letting him begin.
Taking her hand, Goo-tak notices her trimmed nails, and a flashback shows us that Ji-yeon was also wiped down with white kerosene. A CCTV image captures Jung-moon in the area, and now we see the face under the hood: Jung-moon, who smirks as he lets go of Ji-yeon’s hand.
Later that evening, Goo-tak beelines it for Jung-moon’s place soon after Yoo-jin leaves. When Jung-moon answers the door, Goo-tak grabs his throat and before Jung-moon can grab a weapon, there’s a gun pointed at his head.
Goo-tak reminds him of their last conversation, that he’d kill Jung-moon the next time they meet. Jung-moon states his innocence, but Goo-tak doesn’t believe him. Detective Park runs in to intervene moments before the gun goes off, and Goo-tak hollers that Jung-moon killed his daughter.
So now we have some context as to Goo-tak’s disciplinary hearing, where Goo-tak handed in his badge. He then goes to see Yoo-jin at the club she works at to make ends meet. Goo-tak presents her with an opportunity to repay her father’s debt and let her continue her art studies.
All she needs to do is help him out with a job, Goo-tak says, adding that she’s wasting her life spending it with Jung-moon. If she helps him, Goo-tak will help her quit this job and repay her debt—this is a life-changing opportunity.
So as Yoo-jin trashes the apartment she shares with Jung-moon, Goo-tak narrates in voiceover that lack of evidence is the reason why Jung-moon hasn’t been caught yet. But what’s more important is a surviving victim, and that’s where Yoo-jin comes in.
A victim and tangible proof is all they need, Goo-tak says, and then we see Yoo-jin hobbling into the police station with a bleeding arm (the “weapon” secured in a baggie) and a story of how Jung-moon had told her that he killed multiple people.
Thus Yoo-jin testifies against Jung-moon in court and is rewarded handsomely for her services. (Is that the same briefcase of money Goo-tak was going to use to send Ji-yeon abroad?) Jung-moon is found guilty and we know the rest of the story from there.
Now we see Goo-tak sitting down with the elderly baduk player, explaining that he wants Jung-moon dead because it feels like a never-ending tropical night in his heart. And this meeting is how Goo-tak had learned of Jung Tae-soo’s name, a hired assassin who was imprisoned not too long ago.
Of course the elderly baduk player had no idea why Tae-soo turned himself in, but Tae-soo is more than capable of carrying out this hit. He asks Goo-tak what he’d like to hear from Jung-moon’s lips, if that were possible.
Goo-tak: “‘I’m the one who killed your daughter.’ I’d like to hear that. If [Jung-moon] isn’t the culprit… if he wasn’t the one who killed my daughter… I don’t think I could bear it.”
And now we know. If I think about it, that’s a lot of information to pack into one hour, but boy am I glad that we learned as much as we did. After last week’s cliffhanger, we desperately needed to hear the truth from Goo-tak’s lips, or at least the truth as Goo-tak saw it. So while Goo-tak’s backstory fills in many of the gaps of what happened two years ago, there are still so many questions left unanswered. Even though the show has covered so much traction already, it suddenly feels like two more episodes may not be enough to dig through all the mysteries afoot, like Jung-moon’s visits with that deranged psychiatrist and the deal with suspicious characters like Commissioner Nam and Prosecutor Oh. Or maybe this is just me unable to part with this show in two weeks’ time.
What an incredible episode for Goo-tak’s character, aided by a standout performance by Kim Sang-joong. While I knew that I could rely on him to be fantastic in every character he portrays, the veteran actor still somehow blows my mind with each project. We saw so many facets of Goo-tak in this hour, from a devoted father who adored his daughter to his sorrowful grief after she died, and then to his burning rage both simmering just under the surface and the violent outbursts when the emotions boil over. My heart ached when Goo-tak looked so proud of his sensible daughter with an expression that mixed with guilt that he couldn’t provide everything her heart desired. Then my heart dropped when he saw her lying in the hospital bed and it took every fiber of his being not to let the tears come. Goo-tak’s relationship with his daughter has always been one that tugged at the heartstrings, and while I knew he was a loving father who would do practically anything for his daughter’s sake, it was never so evident than in the moment Goo-tak took the mob boss’s bribe.
Not only does that exchange explain how the detective knows Boss Lee, but it becomes the turning point in Goo-tak’s moral conscience. We can plainly see that he hates himself for succumbing to money, yet it also echoes back to his earlier question of whether it’s a corrupt society that drives people mad or crazed people that instigate deranged actions that lead to a corrupt society. That leads into a much greater discussion of nature vs. nurture in terms of morality that could never be fully discussed here, but what we see is that circumstances can certainly affect someone’s moral compass, as it does with Goo-tak.
Now we know that Goo-tak was also responsible of putting both Woong-chul and Jung-moon behind bars. And while Jung-moon is well-aware that Goo-tak wanted him behind bars (and dead for that matter), I doubt that Woong-chul knows that he was the fall guy to save Boss Lee’s ass. I, for one, do hope we get another confrontation between the two gangsters if this issue comes up in the next two weeks.
As for Jung-moon, it’s necessary to bring Goo-tak back into the fold because his desire to see Jung-moon convicted for murder is so great that you could almost call it an obsession. Despite a lack of solid evidence, he’s convinced to a certain extent that Jung-moon must be the Hwayeondong serial killer and shortly after Ji-yeon’s death, his thirst for vengeance is so great that he wishes that it were Jung-moon, if only to relieve the grief and pain. I have to say that Yoo-jin’s involvement in getting Jung-moon arrested was a twist I didn’t see coming, and one that illustrated the extent that Goo-tak would go to in order to obtain one thing: a confession.
One thing that does concern me is how the show will handle Jung-moon’s turn once it comes to light as to why he doesn’t remember killing anyone. I highly doubt that Goo-tak will absolve any blame from Jung-moon’s hands if it happens to be that a psychotic shrink was the puppeteer behind these crimes because Jung-moon is the one going around doing the actual murdering. After spending most of the hour in the past, it’s almost easy to forget that in the present, it’s open season on Jung-moon’s head.